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Pandaw river cruises

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Chesapeake Bay
posts: 2
reviews: 1
Pandaw river cruises

I am considering a Saigon-Siem Reap Cruise on one of the Pandaw vessels. I am also considering the longer "Upper Mekong" variant. I can go either upstream or downstream depending on the dates available.

Would appreciate experience information on those who have taken the cruise, and also the name of a US Travel Agent who may have booked for you.

101 replies to this topic
Michigan
posts: 15
reviews: 149
91. Re: Pandaw river cruises

My wife and I did the Pandaw run from Siem Reap, Cambodia to My Tho, Vietnam in March 2011. I also spent a year as an infantryman in Vietnam's Mekong Delta back in 1969. The weather hasn't changed a bit in 40+ years. IF YOU CAN AVOID IT, YOU DO NOT WANT TO VISIT SE ASIA IN JULY...EVER! You would roast your bibby! Best months are probably late September to early February. Make sure you find out when TET occurs because you probably wouldn't want to be there at that time (Could be in January or February.). The place will be jammed with tourists...USA Vietnamese returning home for the biggest holiday of the year.

Generally, the small group (60 passengers) on a Pandaw cruise will be older, but not elderly. Or...if they are "elderly" whatever that means these days...they will be active senior citizens who I think you will enjoy and they will enjoy you, too. Being on a honeymoon, you two will be the "belles of the ball."

I'd highly recommend doing the fulll route (eight days/seven nights)...in either direction...between Siem Reap and My Tho. While there is a sameness to many parts of the Mekong River, the lower part in Vietnam traverses some relatively narrow waterways putting you up close and personal to many waterside villages. Also, each shore excursion is unique. Crew is great! Food is great! Libations, including adult beverages are included.

Also, all shore excursions come with the Pandaw package. Generally, they'd offer one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We usually did both each day, but they were not obligatory. There's nothing that says one couldn't disembark at Phnom Pehn, for example, and go your own way apart from the included group tour(s). Just have to find out in advance when you have to be back to the shore for the shuttle to the ship.

Finally, unless the water is very high, there is a short bus ride between Siem Reap and the place where the boat can tie up AND there is a one-hour bus ride between HCMC (Saigon) and My Tho. Nintey percent of the route on the latter is on a highway as good or better than the Interstate highways we have here in the USA.

Vietnam has come a long way! As an Ameerican, you will be generously and graciously welcomed there! We certainly were and as everyone knows, all American soldiers back then were dope-smoking baby killers. Seriously, my status as a returning American veteran in no way impacted negatively and probably helped. Most of the Vietnamese alive today were not alive during the "American War" and know little, if anything, about it.

Do the long route. You'll pack much more into that week than you could ever do on your own.

Any questions...hit me at ustresagt@aol.com.

Good luck and congratulations!

JJ

Battambang, Cambodia
posts: 1,522
reviews: 4
92. Re: Pandaw river cruises

it depands on the lake levels weather you will be transferred onto buses,those boats are large and need at least 3 mts of water in the lake for safe travel,in late july i dont know,if you get transferred onto buses it will be for a few 100 km..the whole of the tonle sap lake

Edited: 6:44 pm, June 14, 2013
Newark, New Jersey
posts: 4
93. Re: Pandaw river cruises

Thank you, JayJay and Paul for your help! We happened to see some friends over the weekend who have traveled in the region and, based on their recommendations, are reconsidering our plans. We are now thinking of taking the Pandaw in Burma because our friends had such wonderful things to say about their experiences there. Also, it seems as if traveling solo in Burma might be more expensive and complicated (ethically and logistically) than in Cambodia or Vietnam. So now I have a few more questions: Any pros/cons of the Pandaw in Burma vs. Cambodia and Vietnam? Also, the only Burma trip we could afford is the 7-day Mandalay-Pagan packet. I haven't been able to find any reviews on that particular trip. Any thoughts on that trip vs the ones on the Mekong? And finally, according to the Pandaw Web site, most of the departure dates available for that Mandalay-Pagan packet have very few bookings. Is there any chance they would cancel the trip on us after we book if the boat doesn't fill up?

Thanks again!!

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
posts: 5
reviews: 11
94. Re: Pandaw river cruises

Not sure where Paul gets his info, but the boat don't need 3 m of water (that's more than seagoing ships need); they are shallow river boats with 1 m depth.

Edited: 11:40 am, July 11, 2013
Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 6
reviews: 9
95. Re: Pandaw river cruises

You are all making this voyage sound irresistible! Just one question before I pitch it to my DH. Are the cabins en-suite? Thank you!

Los Altos...
posts: 15
reviews: 5
96. Re: Pandaw river cruises

@CalypsoBay: Yes; they're not huge, of course, but quite comfortable.

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
posts: 166
reviews: 41
97. Re: Pandaw river cruises

Having recently returned from a round the world trip, which also included a two week cruise up the Irrawaddy river in Myanmar I can only highly recommend Pandaw Cruises. The service is unbelievably personal, the cabins small but very comfy and the bathrooms very adequate. Please keep in mind that I am someone who would NEVER get on a big cruise ship! Yet, this cruise totally made a small ship (less than 100 pax) believer of me. Seeing the Miyanmar countryside float by, visiting the small villages, impromptu wedding invitations from the locals, tying up wherever we could at the side of the river to spend the night, eating the local foods (yes, fish soup for b'fast is delicious!) and spending time with interesting, intelligent, adventurous fellow passengers, made for a great trip. Although we travel a lot (we are retired airline people), this is honestly the first time we felt like travelers, not tourists.

Thank you, Pandaw, and the crew of the RV Katha Pandaw for a most memorable experience!

Mumbai
posts: 7
reviews: 41
98. Re: Pandaw river cruises

I do hope the topic is not closed!

Me and my partner are planning a Pandaw cruise from Saigon (upstream) till Siem Reap.

Anyone has been a part of this or a similar one in the recent months? Also, was hoping to get some information on the weather in August .

We are getting differing prices by various tour operators, with some all-inclusive ones having a difference of almost 600USD per cabin compared to booking directly with pandaw! Is this fine? Has anyone travelled with bookings made with a separate travel agency and Not directly with Pandaw?

Please let me know!

Dorset
posts: 2
reviews: 2
99. Re: Pandaw river cruises

Can't help with travel agent as in uk. However did this trip in February this year and would highly recommend. We were on the RV Ankor Pandaw one of the smaller Pandaw fleet and it is just beautiful. The crew cannot do enough to help and please. The excursions were well planned and scheduled with good guides although I did feel a bit templed out by the end of the cruise. All in all we loved every bit of it. You can't help but relax just a really lovely and memorable experience. You can book with Pandaw direct from their web site. Quite a few of our fellow passengers had done this and were very complimentary of the service received. Personally we booked through an agent but that was because we did other things before and after the cruise. Hope you find this helpful

Edited: 2:11 pm, March 18, 2015
Dorset
posts: 2
reviews: 2
100. Re: Pandaw river cruises

Can't help with travel agent as in uk. However did this trip in February this year and would highly recommend. We were on the RV Ankor Pandaw one of the smaller Pandaw fleet and it is just beautiful. The crew cannot do enough to help and please. The excursions were well planned and scheduled with good guides although I di feel a bit templed out by the end of the cruise. All in all we loved every bit of it. You can't help but relax just a really lovely and memorable experience. You can hook with Pandaw direct from their web site. Quite a few of our fellow passengers had done this and were very complimentary of the service received. Personally we booked through an agent but that was because we did other things before and after the cruise. Hope you find this helpful

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