8 Days Saigon - Siem Reap with RV Pandaw Mekong Cruise
Duration: 8 days/7 nights
Route: Saigon - My Tho - Cai Be - Chau Doc - Phnom Penh - Kampong Cham - Tonle River - Tonle Sap - Siem Reap
Price: From $1530 - $3770
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.
Departure Dates in 2012
2, 12, 16, 26
10, 14, 24, 28
7, 11, 21, 25
4, 8, 22
5, 6, 19, 20
2, 3, 16, 30
1, 14, 15, 29
Departure Dates in 2013
5, 12, 26
1, 15, 29
6, 13, 20, 27
3, 10, 17, 24, 31
2, 16, 23, 30
Day 1: Saigon - My Tho
Registration is at 0830 at the Renaissance Riverside Hotel in Saigon (8-15 Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1) and transfer at 0900 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
We take a morning junk trip around Cai Be to see a floating market, and go ashore to visit the French Gothic Cathedral and colourful port area, with its colonial buildings, delightful flower gardens and local rice paper manufacturers. We return to the ship and cruise over to Vinh Long to visit a Bonsai Garden and fruit farm, followed by visit to a brick and pottery factory. We return to the ship and cruise past Vinh Long City and evergreen islands. The remainder of the day is spent cruising through the Mekong Delta.
Day 3: Chau Doc - Border Crossing
From the main Mekong channel at Tan Chau we travel down the canals and backwaters by local ferry boat. At Chau Doc we transfer to small boats to visit a Cham tribal village. We also visit 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, which in this part of the world, take time. Evening cruise up the broad Mekong channel, which is an international shipping route. Moor overnight just downstream from Phnom Penh.
Day 4: Phnom Penh
The capital of Cambodia retains its French charm. The old colonial architecture makes an attractive backdrop to busy cafes, and the renovated river "corniche" is full of life. The city has several impressive wats, including Wat Ounalom, Wat Phnom and the newly-painted Wat Lang Ka. Pride of place goes to the spectacular Silver Pagoda, one of the few places in Cambodia where artefacts 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. An afternoon excursion 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.
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 favourite being the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
Day 5: Phnom Penh to Campong Cham
Early morning departure from Phnom Penh and a 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. The scenery is very lovely here, and in the distance, forested hills rise. On the river above Phnom Penh there is little shipping, just real Cambodian life. 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 6: Kampong Cham Area
Morning journey upriver to the hilltop pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey. Dating from the 8th century, these ancient brick structures characterise the architecture of the Chenla Empire which predated the glories of Angkor. Sail back downstream over lunch for an exploration of the Kampong Cham Area. We travel by bus to the 12th century Angkorian temple of Wat Nokor. This colourful 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 Trust programme. Legends abound about the origins of these hills, and there are many pagodas and shrines on the hilltops.
Day 7: Tonle River
We glance by the capital Phnom Penh in the early morning to change pilots, and then sail the Tonle River which connects Tonle Lake with the Mekong and Bassac Rivers that merge at Phnom Penh. This river journey is a highlight of the trip. We wind our way through jungle, and as the river narrows we feel we can almost reach out and touch the houses and people who come out to cheer our ship on. 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, some half a kilometre long, which net a huge tonnage of fish after each monsoon as the fish migrate from the falling lake into the Tonle River.
Day 8: Tonle Sap - Siem Reap
The great lake dominates Cambodia and is over 150 Km in length. Here bird life is profuse, and from the middle of the lake one cannot even see the shores. There is a great stillness and tranquility as we pass floating fishing villages.
Because the water levels of the lake and river vary a great deal according to the time of year and rainfall, we will then either:
1. High water, approximately August - November. Cross the Tonle Lake at dawn and 1000 disembark at Siem Reap Port for onward coach transfer to the KULEN II RESTAURANT (1 Street Sivatha Svay Dangkum Commune) in Siem Reap by 1100. For passengers staying at our partner hotel in Siem Reap the transfer to the Victoria Resort and Spa is included.
2. Low water, approximately November - August. Coach transfer at 0700 from Prek Dom on the Tonle River to the KULEN II RESTAURANT (1 Street Sivatha Svay Dangkum Commune) in Siem Reap stopping at Kampong Thom. Packed lunch and refreshments provided. Arrive by 1200. For passengers staying at our partner hotel in Siem Reap the transfer to the Victoria Resort and Spa is included.
Prices quoted in US$ nett per person
Valid until 31 Oct 2012
Jan - Mar
Jun - Sep
Oct - Dec
Lower Deck Twin Sharing
Lower Deck Twin Single Use
Main Deck Twin Sharing
Main Deck Twin Single Use
Upper Deck Twin Sharing
Upper Deck Twin Single Use
Inclusions of the trip
Guide services (English language)
Gratuities 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
International flights, port dues , laundry
All visa costs
Imported beverages such as wine, premium spirits and liqueurs, fancy soft drinks like Perrier Espressos and cappuccinos at bar.
Transfer to the ship in Phnom Penh at the start of a voyage