The 4000 islands are in the very South of Laos, divided up by the Mekong river. Some are big and some are tiny patches of grass. Only three are inhabited, and two are open to tourism: Don Det, a party backpacker paradise with bars, and Don Khon, more quiet with stuff to see.
We chose Don Khon to avoid the noise and crowds, and it was just perfect. The island is pretty small and we explored it by bike in one day. There’s a beautiful waterfall, two beaches (we did take a dip in the green Mekong for 5 minutes, it was too tempting on such a hot day), colorful temples, a forest, small villages (of unfriendly people and 3 years old who will jump on you to steal whatever they can, it happened twice) and even Irrawaddy dolphins! Enough to keep busy while adjusting to the Lao pace: there’s no hurry here! We stayed two full days but could have stayed much more. We set off the alarm clock, got fruit shakes from the restaurant next door, had breakfast on the balcony and just relaxed before walking or biking around, to come back on the bridge for the sunset. There are hammocks everywhere and all the restaurants have “lying down” tables. It was the perfect way to begin our journey in Laos!