Southern Laos

Near the Cambodian border, the Mekong awakes from its slumber, slams into Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) and disintegrates into a series of churning rapids. Downstream, a dwindling pod of rare Irrawaddy dolphins seek solace in a peaceful eddy. Upstream, an expanding pod of travellers find their own solace in the hammock-strewn bungalows of Don Det and Don Khon.

Here the Land of a Million Elephants morphs into the land of a million hellish bends and travel is not for the faint-hearted, as the roads twist and turn endlessly through towering mountain ranges and serpentine river valleys. By contrast, most northern towns are functional places, rebuilt after wholesale bombing during the 20th-century Indochina wars.

But visitors aren’t in northern Laos for the towns. It’s all about the rural life. River trips also offer a wonderful way to discover the bucolic scenery as well as a practical alternative to tortuous bus rides.

Places in Southern Laos

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