Si Phan Don
The Si Phan Don (Lao: ສີ່ພັນດອນ; meaning 4000 islands) is a riverine archipelago in the Mekong River, Champasak Province in southern Laos. Si Phan Don is part of the Khong District, including the islands and part of the mainland in the east. Si Phan Don is dotted with numerous islands, half of which are submerged when the Mekong River is in flood. The principal islands of Si Phan Don are Don Khong (the largest), Don Som (the second largest), Don Det and Don Khon. Si Phan Don borders Cambodia and historical and cultural ties link the people on both side of the border. Pakse is the closest of the bigger cities in Laos to the area.
Key features of the Si Phan Don archipelago include:
- The remains of the first railway in Laos, the Don Det – Don Khon narrow gauge railway, built by the French to bypass the Khone Phapheng Falls and enable vessels, freight, and passengers to travel along the Mekong River.
- Freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins (pakha) that can be viewed by boat off Don Khon island. They are an endangered species.
- The Khone Phapheng Falls, a succession of impassable raging rapids that gave rise to the construction of the railway.
Timber was historically logged on the islands but it is now regulated; illegal logging incurs stiff penalties.
While the local economies are predominantly based on agriculture, the Si Phan Don archipelago has seen an increasing number of visitors wishing for a 'picture-perfect' experience of Laos. However, tourists numbers are concentrated on Don Khong, Don Det and Don Khon, and many of the other islands remain rarely visited.
Young girl smiling with teeth in sunshine at golden hour, in Don Det
Two Arecaceae (palm trees) in the fields viewed through a hole in a tree stump damaged by fire in the island of Don Tao, at sunrise
River bank of the island of Don Khon with stilt wooden houses, seen from Don Det with a leaning Arecaceae (palm trees) and colorful clouds
- "FOUR THOUSAND ISLANDS (SI PHAN DON)". Tourism Marketing Department Laos. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
- "Irrawaddy Dolphin". World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Retrieved 27 October 2018.
- Htet Paing, Tin (2017-12-08). "Status Of Irrawaddy Dolphin Raised To 'Endangered'". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
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