Guide to the 4000 Islands of Laos: Don Khong, Don Det, Don Khon (Part 1)

By Mark Wiens 12 Comments

This is Part 1 of the 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don) of Southern Laos covering How to Get to the 4000 Islands and the Island of Don Khong. Check out Part 2 for information on the popular Don Det and Don Khon islands.

4000 Islands in Laos
4000 Islands Laos Map (Si Phan Don)

There seems to be some confusion about traveling to the Southern portion of the country of Laos, an area known as the 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don) in the Champasak Region of the country. The name is derived from the mega Mekong River that spreads itself out, choosing hundreds of routes and forming a vast area of river islands, possibly 4000 of them (Si Phan Don means 4000 Islands in Laos)!

From the assortment of information scattered on the web, I was slightly confused myself, so I decided to check things out and relay on the information as clear as possible.

There are 3 main tourist islands to visit within the 4000 islands: Don Khong, Don Det, and Don Khon (I know it’s a bit confusing).

4000 Islands, Southern Laos
Sunset from Don Khon Island

Don Det and Don Khon are like sister islands (see map above), connected by a decent sized motorbike and foot bridge. Get to Don Det, and it’s not hard to WALK to Don Khon.

Important Information

How to get to the 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don)

It depends on what island your destination is, but it’s often most practical to start from Pakse, the largest Southernmost town of Laos. Pakse is easily accessible by bus from other parts of the country as well as from Thailand.

I personally took a bus from Savannakhet, Laos (after getting a Thai visa in Savannakhet) all the way to Muong Khong Town (on the island of Don Khong).

Once you are in Pakse, there are options to take transportation to the small town of Muong Khong Town (island of Don Khong) or to Ban Nakasong Town (entrance town to Don Det and Don Khon islands).

There are 2 Ways to Get from Pakse to the 4000 Islands

Pakse Truck Station
Songthaew Station in Pakse, Laos

About Don Khong Island

The island usually attracts an older, less party happy crowd of tourists. Despite the 10 or so guest houses on the island, there were only a handful of others when I visited (very nice!). Don Khong island is the biggest of the 4000 islands yet still remains sleepy, laid back, and extremely friendly.

Rice Field in Laos
Don Khong Island, Southern Laos

The size of the island makes it easier to get off the normal route of all travelers, cruise around on a rented motorbike and discover hidden coves or ancient rice farms. The main strip of guest houses is pleasant, extremely quiet, and also offers scenic restaurants overlooking the Mekong River.

Don Khong Island
Mekong River View from Don Khong Island

Places to Stay on Don Khong Island

1. Souk Sabay Guest House
I stayed at Souk Sabay Guest House, a decent clean place to stay with a river view dining area.

The guest house also offers a small store, a restaurant, and a motorcycle rental. They can easily help you arrange transportation for your next destination.

Guest House in Laos
Souk Sabay Guest House, Don Khong, Laos

2. Pon’s River Guest House
Located right next to the Souk Sabay Guest House, it offers nearly the same accommodation options and prices but offers more help in the tour planning area. You can check out there website.

3. Don Khong Guest House
Has some of the most complete information on traveling around the 4000 islands and is also the jump off for taking a boat to Don Det.

Things to do around Don Khong Island

4000 Islands in Laos
Rice Field on Don Khong Island, Laos

How to Get from Don Khong to Don Det and Don Khone

If you want to visit Don Khong Island first on your 4000 Islands itinerary, and then see the other 2 islands, there are 2 main ways to get from Muong Khong (Don Khong island) to Don Det and Don Khon:

4000 Islands
On a Boat

1. Direct Boat: the boat takes about 1.5 hours and the cost is 40,000 Kip ($5.00), usually leaves at around 8 – 9 am (depending on amount of people) from the front of Don Khong Guest House. All the tour groups sort of just pool together wherever you purchase your ticket.

2. Take a small boat across the river to mainland (15,000 Kip ($1.87)), take a songthaew (pickup truck) down stream to Ban Nakasong Town (see map). Once in Ban Nakasong, take a small boat on the river to the island drop off point of Don Det (15,000 Kip ($1.87)). If you want to avoid hassle, just take the 40,000 Kip ($5) boat ride down stream.

Continue to Part 2 for Information on Don Det and Don Khon!