Grand tour of Southern Laos
Si Pan Don (Lao language and means “4000 Islands”) is a unique landscape made of several thousand little islands and sandbars, spread out over 100 km down the Mekong river in the Southern most part of Laos. Larger islands like Don Khong, Don Det and Don Khone have become famous tourist destinations, with their laidback, sleepy charm and the amazing waterfalls created by the mighty Mekong. Many of the smaller ones are flooded during rainy season, the best time for a visit is from October to May.
DAY 1: PAKSE - 4000 ISLANDS
Departure: 08.00 hrs
08.00 hrs – 10.30 hrs
Drive by minivan through beautiful landscape to Ban Nakasang, where you change to ferry boat.
Ban Nakasang or Nakasang, it is one of the main stations for boat and bus services into and out of Don Det and Don Kon, the two most popular of the "4,000 Islands".
Passing numerous small islands and sandbars your boat will take you to Don Khone pier, where history and nature meet.
11.10 hrs – 11.40 hrs
Arrive at the pier of Ban Don Khone near the old colonial bridge connecting Don Khone and Don Det. Built in the 1800s by the French colonialists it was part of the railway trying to circumvent the impassable rapids and cascades around Don Khone. There is an old rusty locomotive with a detailed historic explanation just 100 meters down from the bridge.
12.30 hrs – 13.30 hrs
A Lao style lunch will be served at Khamkhong restaurant in Ban Don Khone near the concrete bridge connecting Don Khone and Don Det.
13.35 hrs – 14.00 hrs
Check-in at Seng Ahloune resort.
Afterwards, a three wheeler takes you to the entrance of Somphamit Waterfall Park, passing through rice fields and bamboo forest.
14.20 hrs – 15.40 hrs
Crossing the wooden bridge over a small tributary you discover that this park has much more to offer than just gazing at the cataracts of the Liphi Falls. The absolute highlight is the Zipline crisscrossing the turbulent water gushing down the rocks (Optional). There are also two small sandy beaches down from the falls, a vast bamboo garden and a beautiful restaurant with good views of the rapids.
15.50 hrs – 16.20 hrs
Three wheeler returns you to your hotel.
The resort situated on river right and just 2-minute walk to old French railway bridge.
Overnight at Seng Ahloune resort.
DAY 2: 4000 ISLANDS - VAT PHOU - PAKSE
08.00 hrs – 08.30 hrs
The boat will be waiting for you at your hotel pier to transfer back to Ban Nakasang.
08.50 hrs – 09.50 hrs
Continue to visit thundering Khonephapeng waterfall, the largest one by water volume in south-east Asia. Wandering along a meandering boardwalk under a canopy of trees on the edge of the roaring falls is an impressive sight to remember.
11.50 hrs – 12.10 hrs
Cross the Mekong by old traditional ferry.
12.20 hrs – 13.20 hrs
Continue to Champasak, a Lao style lunch will be served at Nakorn Café & Restaurant. Overlooking the Mekong to Don Daeng Island. You can refresh body and mind with their exquisite food in the shadow of a curtain of bamboo.
13.40 hrs – 16.40 hrs
After entering VAT PHOU temple, it is recommended to visit the museum first. An electric shuttle vehicle will take you for free from the museum about 1 km to the first level of structural remains. Following the ancient causeway upwards past partially reconstructed ruins decorated with stone carvings of Hindu deities and demons, you climb up steep rocky stairways to reach the sacred spring, inviting you to taste the clean, fresh holy water.
16.40 hrs – 17.20 hrs
Drive back to Pakse.
Overnight at Pakse hotel
DAY 3: PAKSE - BOLAVEN PLATEAU - PAKSE
Departure: 08.00 hrs
Return: 18.30 hrs
08.30 hrs – 08.45 hrs
The first stop is the Ban Blacksmith village, spread out alongside the main access road to Bolaven. Several small family-run workshops offer their production of various farming tools, machetes and knives, all forged in simple smithies open for anyone to see.
Note: There will be no work on Buddha days.
09.10 hrs – 09.30 hrs
Now arriving at the height of the Bolaven the first waterfall en route is Tad E-tu. A narrow stairway leads to the bottom of it, where a large and easy to get to pool invites for a refreshing bath. To respect local custom, wearing of appropriate swim wear is mandatory.
10.00 hrs – 11.15 hrs
After a short drive the twin falls of Tad Fane are reached. With a height of 120 meters they are the tallest in Laos. The spacious wooden platform at the edge of the cliff presents a clear, unobstructed view onto the fall. The most exciting perspectives of this natural wonder are seen from the daring zipline traversing the canyon. To avoid long waiting times it is recommended to make a reservation at least one day in advance.
12.45 hrs – 13.20 hrs
Having concluded lunch at Tad Yuang the tour proceeds back to the main road to stop at the Lak 40 Café to enjoy homegrown organic coffee, tea, cocoa or fruit shakes. Amidst of plants and trees indigenous to Bolaven this charming place holds a coffee and tea processing facility open for interested visitors. Their lush garden also welcomes you to go for a relaxed walk. A wide selection of organic products is also available there.
11.30 hrs – 12h00 hrs
Just a short drive away we arrive at Tad Yuang. There are great views of the 40 meter tall fall from the top, side and bottom. On top there is picnic area right at the riverside and a restaurant overlooking the stream. A lunch will be served to the thundering sound of water plummeting into the deep. For the fit and adventurous a steep stairway winds down to the pool at the foot of the waterfall.
14.10 hrs – 14.30 hrs
Brief stop at the Ban Kok Phung Tai, a village populated by members of the Katu people. This animistic tribe believes in the spiritual mind and soul as well as spirits adhering to or inhabiting all things and beings. The women are known for their colorful intricate cotton weavings, while the men are skillful wood carvers. They all share a passion of smoking homegrown tobacco mixed with herbs from large bamboo bongs.
15.10 hrs – 15.50 hrs
We continue our tour to arrive at the cataracts of Tad Lo, another well preserved natural site with the possibility for a relaxing walk through dense indigenous forest. Below the fall is one more chance to have an energizing bath or watch local fishermen at work.
16.20 hrs – 17.20 hrs
Final stop at a village becoming famous for its organic coffee production and Katu style cotton weaving. Entrepreneur and local guide Mr. Vieng happily shares his profound knowledge about Bolaven coffee from seed to cup and will invite you to a freshly brewed coffee. There is a wide variety of excellent coffee products and textile handicrafts for sale.
Arrival back at Pakse Hotel.
TOTAL COVERED DISTANCE: around 563 Kilometers.