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The Mekong Unexplored - 11 Days

The Mekong Unexplored - 11 Days

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Region: Cruises

11 Days - 10 Nights, Saigon - Siem Reap

Pandaw Cruises

The atmosphere on board a Pandaw river expedition is very friendly and informal, more like a party on a private yacht than a cruise ship. Nearly everything is included in the price, and there is an incredibly high level of personal service and care aboard, with a crew passenger ratio of 1:2. Each Pandaw ship is built new and designed and finished as replicas of colonial river steamers. The staterooms are hand finished in brass and teak by traditional craftsmen, and whilst luxury and comfort are discreetly present, it is the colonial character and friendly atmosphere that predominate. All ships have ultra shallow drafts and can travel to remote areas, which would be unreachable by some other vessels, let alone overland.

Pandaw Cruises Pandaw Cruises

Sailing on a Pandaw is essentially an outdoor experience. Whilst the staterooms are very comfortable and roomy, passengers generally 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 the port holes on the lower deck) can open.

Excursions ashore a key part of any Pandaw river expedition.

These may be in the form of a good walk through countryside and villages, or further explorations by speed boat going deeper into jungle or up river.

(Overnights are spent onboard except where indicated*)

Day 1: Down the Saigon River

Embark at the Saigon city port for a fascinating down river cruise before crossing the Delta through the busy Cao Gao canal to My Tho.

Day 2: The floating market of Can Tho

Explore the largest floating market in the world, having traversed the Delta through the back waters taking advantage of the Angkor Pandaw's low air draft.

Day 3:From Chau Doc to Ba Phnom

Heading ashore at the busy border port of Chau Doc, we will explore a Cham tribal village and visit fish farms before returning to the ship for lunch then and casting off for the Cambodian border. After completing the usual formalities, you will then travel by coach to Ba Phnom - one of the first religious and cultural sites in Cambodia, sometimes considered a birthplace of the Cambodian nation.

Day 4: Phnom Penh by cyclo

Passengers will visit Phnom Penh, where they will be provided with a private cyclo for a tour of the city.

In the afternoon, there is an optional excursion available (by coach) to the Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge's grim Tuol Sleng or S21 detention centre. (This tour is included in the cost of your cruise but must be requested at the time of booking)

Day 5: Cruising upriver with a run ashore

Today there is no fixed schedule, with the exception of a run ashore to visit a village and take a walk.

Day 6: Kampong Cham and inland

Travel by local bus to Wat Nokor, a modern Theravada Buddhist pagoda squeezed into the walls of an 11th century Mahayana Buddhist shrine of sandstone and laterite. It is a kitsch kind of place, and many older building's archways have been incorporated into the new building as shrines for worship. There is also a large reclining Buddha.

At Chlung, walk along the road fronting the river, which contains a series of French colonial and Chinese style buildings, some in disrepair and others family homes.

Day 7: River dolphins

You will travel by coach then transfer by boat to the WWF protected area where, with luck, you will see the rare river dolphins. The river here is rocky and not navigable for larger vessels. In the afternoon, there will be free time to explore the town of Kratie, another remnant of French colonialism.

*Overnight in Kratie.

Day 8: Kratie and beyond

This morning you will visit Phnom Sabok, where passengers will visit a variety of small wats, monasteries and pagodas at the top of the hill, and experience a wonderful view over the Mekong and surrounding areas.

In the afternoon the boat will continue cruising downstream.

Day 9: On the Tonle river and into the Tonle lake

Cruise up the Tonle River to Kampong Chhnang for an excursion into the lake wetlands on our Pandaw Explorer expedition boat, before continuing by mother ship across the lake through the afternoon and evening.

Day 10: Battambang and the circus school

Today you will visit Battambang, Cambodia's second most populous city. Featuring many ancient temples, monasteries, and the very curious bamboo railway, a further highlight will be a visit to an NGO-run circus school.

Day 11: Across the lake to Siem Reap

On your last day, you will make an early morning visit The Prek Toal, a virgin area freshwater swamp forest and bird sanctuary, before disembarking at the Siem Reap port for the 45min transfer to the city and temple areas.

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