There can be no tapestry of river life as fascinating and varied as the River Mekong. Indeed there can be no more striking a cultural contrast as that between the bustling Vietnam delta and the tranquility of Cambodia. We pass from the vibrant French colonial port of Saigon, through the vast delta so rich in human life and endeavour, to travel along the main channel into the rich countryside of Cambodia.
With a full day in charming Phnom Penh we then explore remoter waterways as we progress to the great monuments of Angkor.
Depart London for Siem Reap.
Our guide will pick you up at Siem Reap International airport or local Hotel in Siem Reap and transfer you to Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa for lunch and hotel check in.
The beautiful Victoria is inspired by the 1930’s colonial architecture. Located in the city center, in front of the “Royal Park” and completely immerged into its natural environment, the resort is few minutes away from the Old Market, 7km from the Siem Reap International Airport and 6km from the Angkor Temples.
Free time this afternoon
Day 3 - Angkor
Visit the famous temple of Cambodia, Angkor Wat.
It is visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking. Its massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by five beehive-like towers rising 65 meters from ground level.
This temple is the centerpiece of any visit to the temples of Angkor and Pimean Akas.
Take in the romantic view at sun set from Bakheng Hill.
Day 4 - Angkor Thom
Breakfast in hotel. With airconditioned car and guide visit South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon, Baphoun, Terrace of Elephant, Terrace of Leper King and Preah Khan, NeakPean.
After lunch at a local restaurant, visit Thommanon, Chau Say Teveda, Ta Keo, Ta Promh, BanteayKdei and SrasSrang & East Meborn. In the evening experience a highlight and meet talented young performers in a breathtaking, entertaining and original Cambodian show at PharePonleuSelpak’s Circus.
Pandaw guests receive a special VIP treatment.
Day 5 - Siem Reap and transfer by road to Pandaw cruise ship
Embark your Pandaw river cruise ship at Kampong Cham following a road transfer from Siem Reap (Angkor).
The vessel will proceed upstream to moor midstream for cocktails and to meet key crew.
Day 6 - Wat Hanchey
Sunrise cruise to Wat Hanchey an important centre of worship during the Chenla period located on top of a hill above the mighty Mekong River with some of the best Mekong views in Cambodia. Visit 8th century structures some destroyed by American bombings during the Vietnam War. Well noted for its bizarre Fruit and Animal statues.
We cruise back downstream to Kampong Cham where after lunch we travel by Bus to the local OBT Chiro Village where the education of local children is high on the agenda. Pre-Hospitality training courses, plastic recycling, bee keeping, farming and handicraft skill projects are set up to improve the skill set of local children.
We then travel to the Wat Nokor Bachey dating back to the Jayarvaman VII period. Built completely from Black Sandstone which makes it standout from other temples built during this period. Many legends surround this complex one being it was built by a king who accidently killed his father then married his mother as per Greek legend. This temple was built in penance fir his crime.
Day 7 - Silk Island
Sail down the Mekong/Tonle River convergence to visit Koh Okhna Tey, or ‘silk island’ to study the entire silk making process from worms to weavers.
There will be a demonstration of the ancient Khmer martial art of Bokator.
Return to ship and cruise downstream towards Phnom Penh.
Evening lecture on Angkor and Khmer culture.
Day 8 - Phnom Penh
Morning orientation of Phnom Penh by cyclo visiting the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda followed by the National Museum with its marvellous collection of Angkorian statuary.
Afternoon optional visit to the Killing Fields and Genocide museum or take a tuk-tuk to explore the riverfront and finish with High Tea at Raffles Hotel.
Overnight in Phnom Penh city port with its lively bars, restaurants and night life.
Day 9 - Vietnam Border
Early sailing to the Vietnam border for formalities and during this stationary period there is an optional tour of the working ship and fruit carving classes on deck.
Afternoon, explore the labyrinthine canal system around Tan Chau to visit a Taoist temple where the monks will read fortunes. Continue through local villages by Xi Loi stopping off to help locals tend their fields before stopping off to visit a fish farm and earn merit by releasing fish back into the Mekong.
Day 10 - Con Phuoc Island
In the morning sail up a small canal to moor off Con Phuoc Island and go ashore to explore the island by tuk-tuk seeing basket production and visiting a 100-year old Catholic Church and local woodworking artisans.
After a short cruise downstream in the afternoon we take a short coach trip where we visit Gao Giong ‘green oasis’ with its bird sanctuary.
Here a diverse selection of water birds and egrets that gather in the tens of thousands across the Duong Tharp Muoi or ‘Plain of Reeds’.
Rowing boats traverse the canals to take us to see the principal nesting areas.
Day 11 - Ben Tre
After breakfast the ship moors off Cho Lach island for pot making and further glimpses of Delta life, agriculture and local Viet hospitality including a culinary lesson in making traditional Banh Xeo.
Upon return to the boat we take a cruise downstream to Ben Tre. Where we travel by sampans through mangroves and bamboo groves to the fruit orchards of Ben Tre.
In these local artisans are at work and are invite visitors into their homes for tea, fruit and honey products made from their own honey.
This is an area rich in bird life and on our return journey we travel by horse cart through the lush countryside.
Day 12 - My Tho to Ho Chi Minh City
Moor at My Tho for road transfer to Saigon hotel. Free time in Ho Chi Minh City.
Stay at 5* Saigon Intercontiental Asiana.
This hotel boasts 305 elegantly appointed rooms, bespoke treatments at Spa InterContinental and three international restaurants. This 5-star luxury Ho Chi Minh City hotel is located in the city centre, just a short stroll to famous landmarks such as Notre Dame Cathedral and Saigon Opera House. The Tan Son Nhat International Airport is 7 km away.
Day 13 - Ho Chi Minh
In the morning, drive to the extraordinary Cu Chi tunnels, about 65 Km (1.5 hours drive) from Sai Gon. The complicated system of underground network was built by the Viet Cong guerillas. En route, you have chance to see rural people live and work.
View occupations such as cashew nut farming, duck breeding, rice farming and production of rice paper, a key ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine.
Around 11.30am return to Sai Gon for lunch. In the afternoon, visit the Reunification Hall, Notre Dame Cathedral, General Post Office, Former US Embassy, City Hall and War Museum of Remnants.
End the day with shopping at Ben Thanh market.
Day 14 - Ho Chi Minh City
Free time until departure back to London
Day 15 - Arrive UK
Built in Rangoon in 2002 she was sailed round to Saigon under her own power and many a drama described in Paul Strachan’s Pandaw Story. This ship was designed specially for the Mekong and unlike our other P class ships does not have a flying bridge.
The reason was so she could get under a road bridge. She did actually scrape under on her maiden but it was so scary that Paul Strachan, then standing on the bridge, never dared attempt it again. As a result, we ended up with this incredible 750 square meter teak deck that even has a full size billiard table. The MP as she is affectionately known is our most spacious ship with wider promenades, a larger dining hall and more public space per passenger than any known ship afloat. Seriously!
In 2012 she was refitted and lower deck cabins removed in favour of a professional spa, gym, library lounge and office. She is quite justifiably the most splendid ship on the Mekong and the envy of anything that floats by.
The ship has quality mountain bikes for your independent exploration.
The 18 Upper deck and 6 main deck staterooms, air-conditioning 170 square feet, finished in teak and brass with panoramic French window, leading to personal deck space. New bathrooms with natural stone shower and branded quality fittings, Kimonos and slippers and Spa-branded amenities. Unlimited mineral water in your cabin
Modeled on Pandaw II and originally called Pandaw III, the Tonle saw a year’s service in Burma in 2002/3 before being sent under tug-tow to the Mekong where she has done continuous service between Saigon and Kampong Cham ever since.
With her gorgeous upper deck saloon, observation decks and formal dining room this ship is an old favourite and has a rich ambience. In 2013 she was fully refitted and the number of cabins reduced to just twenty-eight in order to create a professional spa and library on the lower deck.
She is not a small ship but despite her size she has a shallow draft and can usually get up river into low water areas when other vessels are stuck well below.
The ship has quality mountain bikes for your independent exploration.
The 18 Upper deck and 10 main deck staterooms, air-conditioning 170 square feet, finished in teak and brass with panoramic French window, leading to personal deck space. New bathrooms with natural stone shower and branded quality fittings, Kimonos and slippers and Spa-branded amenities. Unlimited mineral water in your cabin
Cruise & Stay Price Includes: International flights from the UK, entrance fees, guide services (English language), gratuities to crew, main meals, local mineral water, jugged coffee, teas & tisanes. Transfers between the airport and the ship at the start and end of a voyage.
Cruise Price Excludes: port fees ($65 will be added to your invoice), laundry, all visa costs, fuel surcharges (see terms and conditions), all beverages except local mineral water, jugged coffee, teas & tisanes and tips to tour guides, local guides, bus drivers, boat operators and cyclo drivers.
The Pandaw experience is all about exploring remote and often hard to navigate rivers and coasts in specially designed luxury small ships. each ship, hand crafted in brass and teak, is an object of beauty in itself. A Pandaw adventure is very different from that offered on an ocean cruise. The ships are small in scale, and the atmosphere is informal and very friendly. Make you trip a memorable one and talk to us about the add on available to your cruise, we can book your flights, transfers, hotels and pre and post cruise stays with included excursions for you. 0800 471 4754
Stay longer and see more that Vietnam & Cambodia has to offer. 3 nights in Ho Chi Minh City (Saignon), stay at the luxury 5* Intercontinental Asiana. Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels built by the Viet Cong, before spending the afternoon evening exploring the city. 5 Nights in Hue and Hoi An for a 2 night stay before you stay in Ho Chi Minh City for 3 nights 2 nights, to explore Angkor, visit the famous Angkor Wat temple, Angkor Thom whilst staying in luxury at Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa or Jaya House Riverpark. Please call us on 0800 471 4754 for further information, these pre and post stays are flexible and can be arranged to suit your requirements.
Begin in bustling Ho Chi Minh City, then, start your cruise on the Mekong River with a visit to a colourful local market and a sampan builder.
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