If you’re reading this it’s possible you’re considering visiting 4000 Islands in Laos. I’m sure you’re already aware that there aren’t any trains in Laos, and that the best way to get around is a bus. You might be in Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, or Vientiane, faced with the option of getting a sleeper bus, and wondering if it’s worth the hassle. Well – we’re here to tell you to GO FOR IT. First of all, yes it’s a long journey. It took us 27 hours in total, our bus broke down at 1.30am and we didn’t get a replacement until 6am, and we’re still saying it was worth it. But why? Here’s the lowdown on the 4000 islands.
First of all, 4000 is a guess, and the main islands that you’ll enjoy are Don Det and Don Khon. Don Det is more developed, there are more restaurants and places to stay, but Don Khon has waterfalls and an actual beach. They’re very easy to hop between, and you can do this on foot, bike, boat – so don’t feel that visiting one will mean that you can’t do the other.
4000 Islands is unlike anywhere we’ve been in South East Asia, and has a lot going for it. It’s incredibly beautiful, covered in palm trees, and the Mekong is fairly clear which encourages swimming. We enjoyed the tiny streets and the quietness, the ease of cycling the entire islands in a couple of hours. The food is cheaper than on the mainland, and the views are spectacular. Here are some things not to miss:
1: SUNSET FROM THE DON DET – DON KHON BRIDGE
Everyone gathers to watch the sunset from this bridge, and it’s a wonderful atmosphere. If you want to make an event of it, grab a couple of beers and some snacks, and set up camp a little early. Just don’t lean back too far – there are no barriers between yourself and the Mekong.
2: BEACH DAY
Having been in Northern Thailand and then Laos for over a month we were delighted to visit the beach and treated ourselves to a little beach day. There are quite a few ‘beaches’ – some more beach-like than others, but for the real deal grab your bike and cycle to the far end of Don Khon. From there you can hire a boat to go dolphin spotting, swim (though do be careful in the strong current), or just enjoy the golden sand between your toes.
Being from Birmingham, UK (home of the Balti), we have been missing our Indian style curries. We were so excited to see that the 4000 islands has quite a few curry houses influenced by India and Malaysia, and we tucked into our garlic naan, veggie Balti, and chana masala with delight. They also do a thali – our absolute favourite, and we think that’s reason enough to hop on a boat and head to the islands.
You can do so much on the 4000 Islands, from lying back in your hammock and reading, to visiting the waterfalls in your kayak. There’s an activity for everybody – including zip-lining.
We hope we’ve convinced you – go on, book up that long journey, and let us know how it went!