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Mekong Pandaw Review

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Mekong Pandaw
-- / 5.0
11 reviews

Pros
Cons
Bottom Line

About

Passengers
48

Crew
24

Passenger to Crew
2.00:1

Launched
2003

Shore Excursions
13
Sails To
Asia
Pandaw Cruise Deals
Jamey Bergman
Cruise Critic Contributor

Mekong Pandaw Overview

The RV Mekong Pandaw takes its name from the river it travels. Sailing between Ho Chi Minh City (which the line still calls Saigon) in Vietnam and Siem Reap in Cambodia since the ship's launch in 2003, Pandaw River Cruises was the first modern river tourism company to sail the route. The line since has put three more ships on the Mekong, offering three-, four- and seven-night sailings on a route that takes in Phnom Penh and the temples and monuments of Angkor on its way through Cambodia.

Given that Southeast Asia is quickly becoming an established river cruising destination, an experience aboard Mekong Pandaw is perhaps not quite as much of an expedition cruise as it might have been a decade ago, but it's still a far cry from a trip through Germany's Rhine Valley. Mekong Pandaw and the rest of the Pandaw fleet are designed with ultra-shallow drafts, allowing the ships to travel during low water and through areas that would be unreachable by deeper-drafted boats. The focus of these cruises is the river and its surroundings.

Pandaw cruises still markets its cruises under the expedition moniker, but the line places a firm focus on luxury and comfort, as well. The Mekong Pandaw, which underwent a full refit in late 2013, is decorated in the colonial style, finished in brass and teak. Cabins are the same size throughout the ship at 168 square feet, with reconfigurable twin beds and panoramic French-balcony windows. Cabins include safes, hair dryers, phones, minibars and Thann bath amenities, including shampoo, conditioner, soap and lotion. Suites include Nespresso machines. Because of the exotic itinerary Mekong Pandaw sails, satellite television reception is spotty, so cabins don't include TVs. Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship.

Passengers receive attentive service, with a crew-to-passenger ratio of 1:2, and the bulk of the activity onboard is geared toward quieter pursuits. The dining room is, in keeping with the line's focus on the outdoors, a convertible open-air space, with retractable walls that only close at night. The top deck space has arranged seating, a billiards table and a bar serving complimentary ice cream.

Dining onboard Mekong Pandaw offers both local and western options. Breakfast is a buffet, and lunch is a mix of soup and salad at the buffet with mains served at the tables. Dinner is table served, and there are vegetarian options as well as more traditional European fare for passengers who aren't partial to local cuisine. Cruises of seven nights or more offer two theme dinners in addition to the farewell gala dinner.

As noted, enrichment and activities are typically low-key and consist of talks from onboard guides, film presentations -- both documentaries complementing the itinerary and mainstream movies -- as well as cooking classes. The line offers a minimum of one "cultural performance" during each sailing with acts such as the Royal Khmer Ballet in Cambodia performing onboard.

Excursions on Mekong Pandaw are included in the price of the cruise and the ship stops at least once per day and often twice. Shore excursion offerings include explorations of local markets with the onboard chef, guided walks with the regional expert onboard, river and jungle trips by speedboat or city sightseeing trips via cyclos (three-wheeled rickshaw) in Cambodia.

Here are some other highlights that you'll find onboard:

Accommodation:

• New bathrooms with natural stone showers and branded quality fittings
• Kimonos and slippers
• Air-conditioned rooms
• Preprogrammed iPads
• Writing desks
• Wardrobes

Food & Wine:

• Daily lean and light menu options
• Complimentary coffee, water, tea, soft drinks, local beer, local spirits, juices
• Extensive wine list with premium wines
• Onboard bakery with daily freshly baked breads and rolls

Spa:

• Traditional Southeast Asian spa treatments and therapies
• Aromatherapy, pedicure, manicure
• Single and double massage room with wet area
• Relaxation room

Public areas:

• Largest public space to passenger ratio of any cruise ship in the world
• Shop, supporting fair trade
• Art gallery featuring local art and artists
• Wireless internet throughout the ship
• Centrally located guest-relations desk
• Lecture, meeting and cinema room
• Library
• Gym

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Top Mekong Pandaw Itineraries

View All Mekong Pandaw Itineraries (4)
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Mekong Pandaw Ratings

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More about Mekong Pandaw

Where does Mekong Pandaw sail from?

Mekong Pandaw departs from Ho Chi Minh City

Where does Mekong Pandaw sail to?

How much does it cost to go on Mekong Pandaw?

Cruises on Mekong Pandaw start from null per person.

Awards and Recognition

Mekong Pandaw Member Reviews

Mekong Pandaw
KandPandB
Sail Date: Sep 2018
I genuinely recommend this cruise and can’t wait to try another adventure with Pandaw.... Read More
Mekong Pandaw
2242islandpond
Sail Date: Jul 2017
Opening your door at any time of the day and looking at the Mekong River truly was awe-inspiring.... Read More
Mekong Pandaw
Metroone
Sail Date: Dec 2016
Quite a long coach trip to reach the boat, but a packed lunch was provided - which was adequate, there was also a short comfort break where you could buy snacks or souvenirs if you wished to. Embarkation was smooth... Read More
Mekong Pandaw
turoar
Sail Date: Jul 2014
Recommend Pandaw as the best for Asian river cruising. Can't say enough good words for them.... Read More

Pandaw River Cruises Fleet

Mekong Pandaw
11 reviews

Mekong Pandaw is decorated in the colonial style, finished in brass and teak. Cabins are all 168 square feet, with panoramic French balcony windows.

Mekong Pandaw Cruises to Asia View All Mekong Pandaw Cruises
Pandaw II

The 24-cabin Pandaw II looks like a big toy boat but is in fact a luxurious yet unostentatious replica of a colonial-era vessel dating from 1865.

Bassac Pandaw

Bassac Pandaw, which sails in Asia, is a handsome four-deck riverboat, a luxurious yet unostentatious replica of a colonial-era vessel dating from 1865.

Orient Pandaw

The 30-cabin Orient Pandaw looks like a big toy boat but is in fact a luxurious yet unostentatious replica of a colonial-era vessel dating from 1865.

Indochina Pandaw

The 30-cabin Indochina Pandaw looks like a big toy boat but is in fact a luxurious yet unostentatious replica of a colonial-era vessel dating from 1865.

Angkor Pandaw
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

The six-cabin Angkor Pandaw is a handsome two-deck riverboat, a luxurious yet unostentatious replica of a colonial-era vessel dating from 1865.

Katha Pandaw

Katha Pandaw is a small vessel with a shallow draft that enables it to cruise the Irrawaddy beyond Mandalay, and hard-to-reach sections of the Chindwin River.

Kalay Pandaw

Kalay Pandaw is a handsome little vessel aimed at private charters for just 10 passengers, two of whom can share a spacious owner suite.

Tonle Pandaw

Tonle Pandaw is a handsome four-deck riverboat, a luxurious yet unostentatious replica of a colonial-era vessel dating from 1865; it sails in Asia.

Kindat Pandaw

Kindat Pandaw's shallow draft allows it to cruise from Mandalay to Bhamo, the most northern navigable point of the Irrawaddy, close to the China border.

RV Kalaw Pandaw
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Kalaw Pandaw's shallow draft allows it to cruise from Mandalay to Bhamo, the most northern navigable point of the Irrawaddy, close to the China border.

Kha Byoo Pandaw

Kha Byoo Pandaw's shallow draft allows it to cruise from Mandalay to Bhamo, the most northern navigable point of the Irrawaddy, close to the China border.

Laos Pandaw

The only ship that visits the three countries of the Golden Triangle (Laos, Thailand and Myanmar) and China on its Upper Mekong River itineraries.

Andaman Explorer

Joining the Pandaw fleet in 2016, Andaman Explorer began life as a Norwegian coast guard vessel and was most recently owned by a Dubai shipping family.

Zawgyi Pandaw

After it was outfitted as a floating clinic as part of relief efforts following Cyclone Nargis, Zawgyi Pandaw relaunched as a river cruiser in 2014.

Sabaidee Pandaw

The 17th ship in the Pandaw fleet, Sabei Pandaw continues the tradition of classically styled river cruisers for which the line is known.

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