Si Phan Don, Laos

Spectacular Si Phan Don is where Laos becomes the land of the lotus eaters, an archipelago of islands where the pendulum of time swings slowly and postcard-worthy views are the rule rather than the exception. Many a traveller has washed ashore here, succumbed to its charms and stayed longer than expected.

Down here the Mekong bulges to a breadth of 14km – the river’s widest reach along its 4350km journey from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea – and if you count every islet and sandbar that emerges in the dry months the name, which literally means ‘Four Thousand Islands’, isn’t that big of an exaggeration.

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