4000 Islands – But Nowhere to Swim!

Another bumpy bus ride down from Pakse, and we arrive at the 4000 islands.  At the most southern part of Laos are a series of sand islands with bungalows, perfect for killing a few days before heading to Cambodia or other parts of Southeast Asia.  After we depart from the bus we load into longtail boats, with more people and luggage than it seems possible to stay afloat.  A very scary 30 minutes later we arrive at Don Det, the “backpacker” island in the area.

Boat ride to 4000 islands
Boat ride to the islands

For the very reasonable price of 40,000 kip ($5 Can) you can land yourself a basic hut overlooking the Mekong river with your very own hammock to laze away the afternoons. If you splurge on $10 a night, you can seriously upgrade your accommodations, although you might lose the hammock.

4000 islands, Laos
Lazing around the island

The island is so small that it can be biked around in about an hour.  If you’re looking to explore there are a few waterfalls on adjoining islands within biking distance, and offer the only place around the islands to swim.  The famous Iriwady dolphin, the world’s only fresh water dolphin, live in and around the islands, although due to over fishing and pollution their numbers in the area have dwindled.

Views on 4000 islands
Great views, but no swimming

There are no ATM’s on the islands, so come prepared with enough kip to get you through.  You can exchange other currencies easy enough, but not at a rate anywhere close to the banks. It’s the perfect place to hang out for a few days before you head home, or off to the madness that is Cambodia, if only there was a beach to swim at it would be perfect!

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