RV Pandaw Cruise from Saigon to Siem Reap
Duration: 8 Days 7 Nights
Departure Date: On Request
Depart from: Ho Chi Minh City
Routes: Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong - Phnom Penh - Tonle River - Tonle Sap - Siem Reap
In 2003, with the Mekong Pandaw, we were the first ship to attempt this extraordinary journey in its entirety surmounting complex bureaucratic and navigational obstacles. In 2004 we brought the former Pandaw III now renamed the Tonle Pandaw over from Myanmar to join the Mekong Pandaw. The two Pandaws explore two countries, two cultures and two ways of life linked by one great river. This is the only luxury cruises vacation on the Mekong River. A shipping link between Saigon and Angkor is immensely practical for the traveller as it makes it possible to connect three important destinations on one trip with easy plane connections at either end: Saigon the exotic Frenchified former capital of South Vietnam, Phnom Penh, the quaint Cambodian capital, and the stupendous World Heritage monuments at Angkor. One need no longer check in and out of hotels and endure bumpy roads to visit these magnificent places.
Sailing on a Pandaw is essentially an outdoor experience. Whilst the staterooms are very comfortable and roomy, passengers prefer to spend their time sitting outside, on the promenade decks or on the vast observation deck above. Unlike other cruise ships every window (except port holes on lower deck) can open. When sailing our passengers sit on deck and become absorbed by great panoramas as they unfold about them. Spellbound, one cannot help but to meditate upon the unceasing human and wildlife activity of these teaming water worlds.
- Explore evergreen islands and at the former Imperial residence, the An Kiet House, where you can find the fruit orchards around the house.
- Attend a cruise trip to pass floating fishing villages and watch the daily activities of local people before passing the border to visit Cambodia.
- Visit the most attractive destinations here, such as some impressive wats including Wat Ounalom, Wat Phnom, etc.
- Learn more about Khmer people culture, as well as Cambodian rural life.
- Attend some daily activities of local people here such as fishing, shopping at Kompong Cham, visiting the Kampong Cham orphanage before heading to Siem Reap.
Day 1: Saigon – My Tho (L, D)Registration is at 08.30 at your hotel and transfer at 09.00 to the Delta Port of My Tho by coach arriving at 1100 for check in followed by port and immigration formalities. My Tho is the hub of the Delta, but not of great cultural interest, so once on board we set sail at 1300 and have lunch. In the afternoon we moor near Cai Be and make a fascinating trip by traditional junk to explore evergreen islands and at the former Imperial residence, the An Kiet House. Surviving members of the Kiet family will welcome us with tea and we can wander in the fruit orchards around the house. Overnight moor mid-stream Cai Be.
Day 2: Cai Be – Vinh Long – Sa Dec – Cu Lao Gien – Chau Doc (B, L, D)
Half day cruise excursion on board traditional sampan boats to Sad Dec via Vinh Long, along small canals and back waters. We begin by visiting Cai Be and its colorful floating market which takes place daily in front of the catholic church. A further stop on the river bank then allows us to see local factories where rice pasta, coconut candies and other specialities are traditionally made. Also visit a Mandarins house dating from late 19th century. Cruise further by Sampan to Dong Hoa Hiep islet to explore the rural life and the daily activities of the delta inhabitants seeing palm tree leave weaving, traditional wooden boat factories and fruit orchard plantations. Back on board your sampan, we will cruise up the Tien River where we see water hyacinths, an important Mekong delta product used for furniture and baskets and then visit a traditional brick and tile factory.
Sa Dec will then appear like a little “Venice” with its numerous narrow canals and various kinds of traditional activities on the banks. You will disembark at the local market for a visit, then proceed to the splendid ancient house of Mr. Huyn Thuy Le, the “lover” of Marguerite Duras, famous French novelist and inspiration for the film L’Amant-The Lover directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud . After lunch on board the Pandaw, cast off for Chau Doc. En route visit Cu Lao Gien island and a Catholic monastery called “La Providence” built in 1875 by the French nuns of “Saint Paul de Chartres”. Cu Lao Gien became an important Catholic centre with mission, an orphanage, school, hospice and leprosy centre that can treat 1,000 people. During the Japanese invasion the monastery was abandoned; operations were resumed after 1945 until 1977. Nowadays Cu Lao Gian serves as a retreat for 180 retired nuns taken care of by novices.
Day 3: Chau Doc – Border Crossing (B, L, D)From the main Mekong channel we travel down to Chau Doc jetty where we transfer to small boats to visit a Cham tribal village and a cat fish farm. We take a trishaw ride round this fascinating town of fine French-colonial buildings and see its bustling market. Return to the ship by boat for lunch and cast off for the Cambodian border for the usual formalities. Evening cruise up the broad Mekong channel, which is an international shipping route. Moor overnight just downstream from Phnom Penh.
Day 4: Phnom Penh (B, L, D)The capital of Cambodia retains its French charm. The city has several impressive wats, including Wat Ounalom, Wat Phnom and the newly-painted Wat Lang Ka. Pride of place goes to the Royal Palace and to the spectacular Silver Pagoda, one of the few places in Cambodia where artifacts embodying the brilliance and richness of Khmer culture were preserved by the Khmer Rouge. The National Museum is another highlight, with outstanding displays of Khmer crafts. For the morning excursion we are delighted to have teamed up with The Cyclo Centre Phnom Penh to offer an alternative to a conventional coach tour. The Cyclo Centre is a charity that provides basic welfare and medical services to cyclo drivers, many of whom are very poor (www.cyclo.org.uk). They will provide us with trained drivers with basic English and a good knowledge of the key sights. You decide where you want to go and what you want to see and off you go on your private cyclo for the morning. (For groups if a conventional guide and coach are required we are happy to supply). In the afternoon an optional excursion (by coach) is arranged to the Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge’s grim Tuol Sleng or S21 detention centre situated in the suburbs of the city then shopping at the Russian market or Central market. This tour is included in the cost of your cruise but must be requested at the time of booking in the Booking Comments box or at the latest on board the first day of the cruise. More happily, Phnom Penh has a lively night life, and some passengers choose to dine ashore or try one of the capital’s many watering holes; a favorites being the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
Day 5: Phnom Penh to Tonle River (B, L, D)Early morning sail the Tonle River which connects Tonle Lake with the Mekong and Bassac Rivers that merge at Phnom Penh. The river journey to Kampong Chhnang is one of the highlight of the trip. Temples abound along the river banks at Kampong Chhnang, and we see the rich tapestry of Cambodian rural life. This is a busy rural port town with bustling markets. Mooring mid-stream, we make a truly wonderful motor boat excursion into the lakeside wetlands that form the mouth of the river. Here a stunning variety of birdlife may be seen and of considerable interest are the great fish traps. We make a late afternoon departure from Kompong Chhnang heading for Phnom Penh. Moor overnight midriver.
Day 6: Kompong Cham (Mekong River) (B, L, D)We glance by the capital Phnom Penh in the early morning to change pilots, and then stop at the little-known Chong Koh silk weaving village for a morning walk at leisure. We cruise past the Mekong’s timeless villages and river life with extensive fishing activities. In the afternoon we stop at Peam Chi Kang village to visit the wat or monastery and school. Passengers are at leisure to explore this peaceful and friendly community. In the wat the splendid village racing boats are stored.
Day 7: Kompong Cham Area (B, L, D)Morning journey upriver to the hilltop pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey. Dating to the 8th century, these ancient brick structures characterize the architecture of the Chenla Empire which predated the glories of Angkor. Sail back downstream over lunch for an exploration of the Kompong Cham Area. We travel by bus to the 12th century Angkorian temple of Wat Nokor. This colorful temple is unique in Cambodia, as a modern Wat is set within the ruins of an ancient temple. We continue to the eco village of Cheungkok supported by the French-Cambodian NGO AMICA and the Kampong Cham orphanage, supported by the Pandaw ProBono programme.
Day 8: Kompong Cham to Siem Reap (B)Coach transfer at 0800 to the Raffles hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap stopping at Kampong Thom. Packed lunch and refreshments provided. Arrive at Siem Reap by 12:00.
Inclusions of the trip
Guide services (English language)
Gatuities to crew, main meals ocally made soft and alcoholic beverages
Ugged coffee and selection of teas and tisanes, mineral water.
Transfer to the meeting point in Saigon from the ship at the end of a voyage.
Exclusions of the trip
Port dues (if levied)
All visa costs
Imported beverages such as wines
Premium spirits and liqueurs
Fancy soft drinks like Perrier
Espressos and cappuccinos at bar