Si Phan Don
Don Kong Island © Dario Severi
The famous 4,000 Islands region of Laos unfolds at the Mekong River's tail end. Situated in the far south and lapping over into Cambodia, the area is renowned for its tranquil village life, spectacular waterfalls, and unspoiled natural beauty. It's also home to the rare pink Irrawaddy Dolphin. The two most popular islands are Don Khong, which is the largest and most developed in the region, and backpacker-magnet Don Det. Prices for food and accommodation are some of the cheapest in Asia. Many tourists use the area as an entry point into Cambodia, with buses frequently making the one-hour journey to the border. Action lovers can look forward to plenty of hiking, biking and swimming opportunities, while relaxation seekers can enjoy bungalows with waterside balconies. Water safaris are a great way to see the dolphins, though travellers should ask guides not to go too far. They'll owe border-crossing fees if they stray into nearby Cambodia. All things considered, Si Phan Don is a tremendous stop for young travellers or those operating on a tight budget.