Beautiful sunset over the Mekong River in Don Khon, 4000 islands

Today I’m writing to tell you about the most relaxing place I have ever been to!  Before arriving on this island oasis I had spent 3 days zip lining, abseiling, hiking and rock climbing.  I simply couldn’t think of anything better to do than just chill out.

My body hurt in places it’s never hurt before, I was physically fried and slightly broke from my last excursion.  I needed desperately to work on my blog and edit the 3 hours of footage from my Green Discovery adventure.

I couldn’t have picked a better spot than Don Khon, 4,000 Islands of southern Laos.  Si Phan Don, which means 4,000 islands, is a riverine archipelago, characterized by several islands.  During the monsoon season, many of the islands become submerged.  In the hotter seasons, more of the islands can be seen.

Only 4 of the islands are populated and opened to tourism, whereas, many islands remain untouched.  Don Khon, also known as Don Khone, is the second largest, however, it’s one of the least visited.  It is still vastly untouched by tourism and has more of a cultural feel which is precisely what drew me here.

BIKE RIDING THROUGH DON KHON ISLAND

I first arrived with friend Audrey the day after our ziplining adventure.  We had stayed one night in Pakse after returning from our 3-day jungle excursion.  Audrey would be staying one night on the island and leaving early the next morning.  I planned to stay for a week, so I let her call the shots with it being her only day there.

We rented some bikes from the main street in town and went exploring.  We first found a little beach with a baby chick that wanted to come home with us.  It climbed into my hand and when I put it down it continued to follow us.  It was beyond adorable!   There wasn’t much to see besides a local restaurant and some fishing boats so we continued on.

When we left the beach we biked to the other end of the island where we got ourselves some smoothies to cool off in the heat.  We also visited the old French locomotive that rests on the island after being abandoned and reclaimed by nature.

Girl on a bike reading a guide book about Don Khon, 4000 islands
Baby chic in my hand

IRRAWADDY DOLPHIN WATCHING 

After enjoying our smoothies and relaxing for a bit we hired a boat to take us to see the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins.  There is a family of 3 living here in the Mekong, a Mom, Dad, and baby.  They are 3 of the remaining 90 or so left on the planet.

The boat ride out was gorgeous.  The little islands of green shrubbery lifting out of the Mekong are truly spectacular.  They look like large arrangements of plants in a pond.  Our driver was an expert at swerving in between the little islands and avoiding the floating bottles tethered to warn you of the small islands living just under the surface.

Our driver knew right where the dolphins would be and we parked on a small beach and killed the engine in hopes that they would surface.   We stayed for less than an hour and they eventually came to the surface and made their adorable fountain sound from their blowholes.  However, they never came out of the water.

I was hoping for a little sea world show of acrobatics but I was sadly disappointed.  Although, now I can say I saw an Irrawaddy dolphin and die happy with bragging rights.

Two girls waiting to see the Irrawaddy dolphins in Don Khon, 4000 Islands

CHASING SUNSETS AND OVER INDULGING

We biked back to our guesthouse to took much-needed showers and relaxed a bit before heading into town to chase a sunset and get some dinner.  It didn’t take us long to find a cute little spot on the waterfront with great views of the Mekong.

We decided to share an appetizer and ordered some spring rolls that were so fantastic that we overindulged in a second round.  They were served with a fabulous sweet and spicy peanut sauce for dipping which was simply amazing!  After the sun went down we ordered dinner there as well, however, it was nothing to write home about.

After dinner, we decided we needed dessert.  We wandered over to another little restaurant called The Garden.   We ordered fried bananas with honey, as well as, mango sticky rice.

THE BEST FOOD IN DON KHON, LAOS

I LOVED the Garden.  It’s owned by an adorable little family.  Their outdoor kitchen is tiny and located in front of the restaurant.  Everyone in the family cooks or plays a part and the food is hands down the best in town.  The family had 3 adorable, mischievous, playful puppies running around that were constantly under the table licking our toes.

The Garden also owns a massage room right next to the restaurant.  After dessert, Audrey and I got an hour-long Lao massage.  Mine was weak, However, Audrey’s was good.

We returned together the next morning to have breakfast before Audrey left.  I then returned every day of my stay for at least one meal.  They make the best mango sticky rice I have ever tasted and I had no problem ordering it several times.

Laab gai chicken dish from The Gardens restaurant in Don Khon, 4000 Islands
Sign for The Gardens restaurant in Don Khon, 4000 Islands

CONQUERING LONELINESS

The next day Audrey left which made me pretty lonely.  I don’t typically feel this way because I honestly like being on my own.  I don’t enjoy too many people’s company for long periods of time.  I’m a true introvert in that sense.

However, when I do meet people I connect with, I come out of that little shell and I miss them when they are gone.  To fill Audrey’s void, I decided to dive right into my work.  I had my Green Discovery blog to write and countless hours of Go Pro footage to edit.

In addition to that, I had been researching and learning a ton about building my business online in hopes to be able to eventually make money from blogging and social media influencing so I can continue to travel full time.

LOVING MY DON KHON GUESTHOUSE

My little riverside bungalow was fantastic for a digital oasis.  I spent all my time working, researching and editing.  My patio deck had a hammock, two lounge beds, as well as a table and chair.  In the mornings I would work on the patio until it got too hot then escape back inside and crank the AC until the sun went down.  I only left a few times a day to get food.

Besides eating at The Garden I tried almost every other restaurant that was open.  Many are closed during the slow season, making options even slimmer.  There was one restaurant with decent enough WiFi to upload my videos when I finished editing them.  The videos would take almost 3 hours to upload because of how slow the WiFi was.  A few times they canceled at the last minute after waiting hours for them.  It was very frustrating!!

READ MORE: Check out my killer adventure with Green Discovery Laos

Hammock on my back deck overlooking the Mekong River during Sunset in Don Khon, 4000 Islands

DON KHON WATERFALLS

When I had finally completed my zip line blog and videos I decided to reward myself.  I rented a motorbike for a day to get out and see the rest of Don Khon, as well as visit the party island of Don Det right across the Mekong.

Side note– Are you interested in learning more about the party island Don Det?  Click Here

It had rained something fierce the night prior and all the dirt roads had turned into giant ponds.  This made everything pretty messy and muddy.  By the end of the day, I was covered in mud.  I didn’t care though because I had an amazing time scootin around town.

I visited both Don Khon waterfalls.  The first one was much smaller, with a dodgy bridge, lots of trails to explore around the falls and a little beach.   It was a bit of a challenge to find the place, but it was worth the effort.  Crossing the rickety little cable bridge with rotting wooden boards was the true adventure though.

The second set of falls were much larger or I suppose a better word would be massive.  The Somphamit is a cascade of falls that showcases the power of the Mekong in a picturesque setting of rocks and water.  The park itself is quite large with a beach, bungalows, restaurant/bar, as well as a café.  There are several different lookout points along the falls for countless photo opts. 

On the grounds, there is a children’s center with a water park structure where kids can swing into the water, as well as a zip line.  Throughout the entire park, there are tons of places to stop, sit, lounge and rest.  I was there in mid-afternoon and wished I had come later because I’m absolutely positive that it’s an amazing spot for the sunset

There truly wasn’t much else to do in the village.  My bungalow was so well equipped with the hammock and AC that I didn’t really want to leave.  For the most part, I only stay in hostel dorms with several other people so the solitude of my own space was intoxicating.  After having my own pad for a week it sure was hard to go back to hostel life!

Giant Somphamit waterfall with rocks and boulders in Don Khon, 4000 islands

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT DON KHON

My favorite part about the sleepy little island of Don Khon was the people.  The kids were so happy and they would always wave and say hello when they saw me.  I loved to watch them ride around on adult-sized bikes because that’s all they have, it was just so innocent and cute.

The locals were kind, helpful and patient with me even when I couldn’t communicate.  Several people asked me about my life, where I come from and genuinely wanted to get to know me.  I made several friends in the village and after a few days began to feel a part of the community and people greeted me as if I were one of them.

I loved the number of animals I saw, many of which were domestic house pets.  You just don’t see a lot of that in Asia.  I ran into cows, buffalo, ducks, goats, tons of dogs, cats and chickens.   I enjoyed it immensely when a buffalo would just stroll down the street in the center of town as if he owned the place.

Giant water buffalo on the side of the street in Don Khon, 4000 Islands
Two small kids riding a giant bike in the streets of Don Khon, 4000 Islands

The community seems to work together as one.  If you go to a restaurant and order a coconut but they don’t have any, they just walk to the neighbors and get one.  The island felt more like a giant family and you can tell that they work together for the common goal of increased tourism.

I loved Don Khon and I wanted to stay forever. Eventually, I had to move on because I had so much more ahead of me.  But I didn’t say goodbye, I just said see you next time because I fully intend on returning one day!

With Love,

Julie

SHARING IS CARING

Don Khon, 4000 Islands, Laos Pinterest Pin
Don Khon, 4000 Islands, Laos Pinterest Pin
Don Khon, 4000 Islands, Laos Pinterest Pin