Pandaw River Expeditions premier fleet is among the finest on the Mekong River.
With routes embarking from where the mouth of the Mekong Delta pours into the South China Sea in Vietnam to the city of Jinhong, Yunnan, China, their fabulous French colonial ships invoke 19th travel lore with 21st century service.
For example, their RV Mekong Pandaw Clyde-paddle ship is stacked like a layer cake. Fully renovated in 2013, this 24-cabin cruiser features an expansive spa. The teak wood cabins come with sliding French doors for stunning views. On the storied Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, to Siam Reap, Cambodia, voyage, river revelers can also relax recumbent with a provided iPad—checking out itineraries, weather, shopping information, menus, and e-books at leisure. They can surf the web too.
This classic river yacht experience between Vietnam and Cambodia departs from Saigon through the Mekong’s placid delta tributaries. It stops for a full day in Cambodia’s capital of Phnom Penh before moving into the murky waters leading up to Angkor Wat and Siem Reap.
Apart from this classic cruise, they are launching a special Yunnan Pandaw pleasure trip in September 2016. The Yunnan Pandaw is the sister ship to their Laos based Laos Pandaw vessel. It hoists anchor from the Upper Mekong in Vientiane and sails to the sleepy city of Jinghong, Yunnan in China. This planned 14-night journey still has its ink wet, and is only for travellers who are “flexible.” Tentative stops include the romantic river city of Luang Prabang with French villas and Buddhist ruins. In China, the strip will stop at the Menglun Botanical Garden, a traditional Chinese tea plantation, and visit minority communities. Other highlights include Thailand’s Golden Triangle, the Old Mandalay Road, and traditional villages.
The Yunnan Pandaw ship itself has 12-air conditioned main deck rooms, plus two upper deck staterooms. All are inclusive with private bathrooms, kimono robes, and luxury linens. The observation deck and dining room exude French colonial charm with traditional teak and brass fittings.
Now with 16 ships in their Southeast Asia fleet, Pandaw is proud of its growth since 1995 as the first modern company to host expeditions on the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers. Founded by Scotsman and Burmese historian Paul Strachan over 20-years ago, Pandaw also traces its glory back to the original1865 Irrawaddy Flotilla Company—which gives it an extra awe factor.