Pandaw River Cruises
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PANDAW COMBO RIVER CRUISE

HALONG BAY, RED RIVER & LAOS MEKONG

21 NIGHTS FROM US$7,970.40
SAVE UP TO 10% AND NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT ON SELECTED DATES

For the first-time travelers will be able to explore the key sites of Northern Vietnam by river ship traversing the Red River delta and its main tributaries, connecting the wonders of Halong Bay with the excitements of down town Hanoi, and then on into the interior, well off the beaten track. This is a combination of scenic beauty, lively and interesting (sometimes industrial) life of the river and exploring rivers where no other tourist craft operate.

Combined this with a three-country expedition as we will traverse Laos to touch Thailand and Burma at the once notorious Golden Triangle. From Vientiane, the old French capital, and so redolent of L’Indochine, beyond Luang Prabang, Pandaw is the first river expedition since prewar days to cross all Laos.

This trip included flight between Hanoi and Vientiane or v.v. with a one-night hotel stay.

Please note: During the months February to April there may be an increased risk of smog across Laos and northern Thailand. This is due to the annual crop burnings and whilst usually mild, can sometimes be quite severe. We would advise that any passengers with respiratory issues consult with their doctor before booking for this period. Most departures and travellers will be unaffected, however.

CHECK AVAILABILITY & BOOK ONLINE

or call TOLL FREE 1-877-872-6329
represented by Sayang Holidays
21 NIGHTS FROM US$7,970.40
SAVE UP TO 10% AND NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT ON SELECTED DATES

IMAGES

EXPEDITION MAP

YOUR SHIP

OPTIONAL EXTENSIONS

PRE CRUISE EXTENSIONS

The Plain of Jars - Pre Cruise Upstream Laos

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Exploring Vientiane 2 Night Pre Tour (La Seine Hotel)

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Exploring Vientiane 2 Night Pre Tour (Settha Palace)

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POST CRUISE EXTENSIONS

Post Tour Hanoi (Sofitel Legend Metropole)

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Post Tour Hanoi (Silk Path Boutique)

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Sapa & Hanoi 4 Night Post Tour

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4 Night Hue & Hoi An Post Tour

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OPTIONAL PACKAGE ADDONS

Private Dining

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Pre-Bookable House Wine Package

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Free Flow Drinks

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Free Flow Drinks & Wine Package

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ITINERARY

Upstream      Downstream

DAY 1 VIENTIANE

Pick up from your hotel in Vientiane at 08.00am, followed by a local long-tail boat expedition to your Pandaw vessel upstream. Lunch and drinks will be provided on the local boat by your Pandaw chef and bar staff. Embark your Pandaw in the afternoon for a welcome briefing and welcome drinks. We moor overnight at Pak Lay.

More about Vientiane
Vientiane
Vientiane

DAY 2 CRUISING THE MEKONG

Cruise upstream on the Mekong, passing lush jungle scenery and tiny riverside villages. Morning presentation on the Lao language after a short walk at Pha Laeb village. If time permits, we will also enjoy an afternoon walk at Ban Khok Fark.

More about Cruising The Mekong

DAY 3 XAYABOURI DAM

Morning walk at Ban Pak Bor Khummu village before passing through Xayabouri Hydroelectric Dam, taking an inside look of the workings of this somewhat controversial attraction as we navigate the locks. Afternoon visit to Ban Na San village, a Hmong minority village.

Xayabouri Dam
Xayabouri Dam

DAY 4 KUANG SI WATERFALLS

In the morning we moor at the village of Ban Mouang Khai and visit the dramatic Kaung Si waterfall. On the way back to the ship, we stop at the Laos Buffalo Farm, a social enterprise utilizing the abundant buffalo in Laos. Arrive in the heart of the temple city of Luang Prabang mid-afternoon where there is a buzzing night market and many great cafes and local restaurants. Traditional Laos Bacci ceremony and dancing on the upper deck during happy hour. Moor overnight in central Luang Prabang.

More about Kuang Si Waterfalls

DAY 5 LUANG PRABANG CRAFTS & CULTURE

Today we explore the various handicrafts of Laos in more detail. We start with Ock Pop Tok, a social enterprise providing sustainable employment and training for the women of local weaving villages. We then head to TAEC (Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre) to understand more about Laos musical instruments. After lunch aboard the ship, we sail toward Ban Chan and take part in a pottery demonstration at the local pottery workshop. We finish the day with a sunset cruise on the Mekong alongside Luang Prabang, returning to moor overnight in the centre of town.

Luang Prabang Crafts & Culture
Luang Prabang Crafts & Culture

DAY 6 LUANG PRABANG

Early morning walking tour to observe the alms offerings to the hundreds of monks who walk around the city every morning. We continue after breakfast to the morning market before taking tuktuks for a city tour of this well preserved and unique world heritage site with its many Buddhist temples, libraries and royal palace. The afternoon is free to explore the beauty and unique atmosphere of Luang Prabang.

More about Luang Prabang

DAY 7 PAK OU CAVES

Morning at leisure in Luang Prabang before setting sail at midday upstream. Afternoon sightseeing by local boat exploring the unique Pak Ou Caves, a Buddhist sanctuary with spectacular limestone cliff faces. See the production of local Laos whisky at the Whisky village and shop for locally produced handicrafts.

More about Pak Ou Caves and Nam Ou River
Pak Ou Caves
Pak Ou Caves

DAY 8 BAN TON AND SANDBANK BBQ

Day of sailing upstream along the Mekong with morning walk through Ban Ton village. In the evening, we moor alongside a sandbank for a special riverside barbecue and cocktail party. Light paper lanterns with the crew and enjoy a dance in remote Laos.

DAY 9 PAK BENG ELEPHANT SANCTUARY

Laos is known as ‘The land of a million elephants’ and today we will visit a rescue sanctuary that is helping to preserve the elephants of Laos and provide sustainable alternative employment for Mahouts who once trained and rode these beautiful creatures. Afternoon walk at Ban Pak Sith Khummu village.

More about Pak Beng
Pak Beng Elephant Sanctuary
Pak Beng Elephant Sanctuary

DAY 10 PAK SITH - CHIANG KHONG

Today we sail the final leg of our journey upstream toward Huayxay. Cross over into Thailand via the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge before rejoining your ship in Chiang Khong. Enjoy a ship tour of your Pandaw vessel and fruit carving demonstration from your Pandaw Chef. Farewell cocktails and Thai traditional dance on board for your last evening.

DAY 11 CHIANG KHONG

Disembark by 8.30 in Chiang Khong and group transfer to hotel/airport. En route, explore the Golden Triangle including a visit to the opium museum. Continue to airports or city hotels in Chiang Rai (2 hours) and Chiang Mai (6 hours).

Chiang Khong
Chiang Khong

DAY 12 HALONG BAY

Transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay to embark your Pandaw ship followed by lunch on board. Cast off in the afternoon with a welcome cocktail for an evening sail, dropping anchor in a sheltered bay amidst the beautiful island scenery.

More about Halong Bay

DAY 13 HALONG BAY

Morning sail around Halong Bay and beyond with its 1,500 dramatic limestone islands and extraordinary rock formations, dating back 20 million years.

Stop at Viet Hai Village and explore on mountain bike or electric buggy, visiting the village’s vegetable farm and typical village houses. It is a breath-taking trip along a small road winding its way through the limestone rocks.

More about Halong Bay
Halong Bay
Halong Bay

DAY 14 HALONG BAY

Exploration of Halong Bay continues with a visit to the so called “Dark and Bright Cave”. Take a kayak or a local basket boat rowed by fishermen and enter this remarkable cave into an enclosed area similar to a crater. Bats can be heard in the cave and massive stalagmites hang from the ceiling.

More about Halong Bay

DAY 15 THE KINH THAY RIVER

Observe the lively and interesting life of the KinhThay river, a key commercial waterway.

Meet your guide in the dining room for a lecture on Vietnam, its history, geography and the boat people.

The Kinh Thay River
The Kinh Thay River

DAY 16 BAT TRANG VILLAGE

The day is spent cruising towards Hanoi. Enroute, stop at Bat Trang in the afternoon, a ceramic village. On the way back to the ship watch a traditional unicorn and lion dance at the jetty.

This dance originated in China and spread over Southeast Asia.

DAY 17 HANOI

Drop anchor in the capital and bustling city of Hanoi to visit some highlights of this Asian metropolis. Must-sees include the notorious Vietnam War prison known as the Hanoi Hilton, temple of literature where Confucius did his thinking, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

Hanoi
Hanoi

DAY 18 THE LOWER RED RIVER

Morning sail through the day from Hanoi up the Red River to Viet Tri - not the most picturesque of towns, but an excellent base for going deeper into Highland Vietnam.

Go ashore to visit a timeless Arcadian Vietnam with emerald green rice paddies punctuated by limestone rock formations. Of particular interest are the Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas.

DAY 19 LO RIVER

In the morning cruising to Tien Du ferry station to the village of Gia Thanh, makers of the conical hats (known as ‘non la’). Take in the sights and sounds of the bustling river with all kinds of craft and activity.

Lo River
Lo River

DAY 20 THE DA RIVER

Day sailing upstream while admiring the unspoilt beauty of the Da River. We stop to visit K9 Ho Chi Minh Memorial House, a small museum newly opened to international visitors introducing the life of President Ho Chi Minh and his contributions to the country’s revolution. We moor overnight mid-river alongside Ba Vi National Park with its rich and diverse tropical and sub-tropical flora and fauna.

DAY 21 HOA BINH

Hoa Binh was the site of a major battle with the French in 1951 & 1952 and is home to the Muong ethnic group.

The Hoa Binh Dam at the Black River is the largest hydroelectric dam in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Take a morning boat ride on the reservoir of Hoa Binh and explore the inner workings of the power station. In the afternoon, visit a museum and local village where villagers still wear traditional dress before being treated to a traditional performance by local hill tribe people.

Hoa Binh
Hoa Binh

DAY 22 HOA BINH

Disembark after breakfast (08.30am) and transfer to Hanoi. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant, followed by a transfer to Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport or your central Hanoi hotel.

DAY 1 VIENTIANE

Pick up from your hotel in Vientiane at 08.00am, followed by a local long-tail boat expedition to your Pandaw vessel upstream. Lunch and drinks will be provided on the local boat by your Pandaw chef and bar staff. Embark your Pandaw in the afternoon for a welcome briefing and welcome drinks. We moor overnight at Pak Lay.

More about Vientiane
Vientiane
Vientiane

DAY 2 CRUISING THE MEKONG

Cruise upstream on the Mekong, passing lush jungle scenery and tiny riverside villages. Morning presentation on the Lao language after a short walk at Pha Laeb village. If time permits, we will also enjoy an afternoon walk at Ban Khok Fark.

More about Cruising The Mekong

DAY 3 XAYABOURI DAM

Morning walk at Ban Pak Bor Khummu village before passing through Xayabouri Hydroelectric Dam, taking an inside look of the workings of this somewhat controversial attraction as we navigate the locks. Afternoon visit to Ban Na San village, a Hmong minority village.

Xayabouri Dam
Xayabouri Dam

DAY 4 KUANG SI WATERFALLS

In the morning we moor at the village of Ban Mouang Khai and visit the dramatic Kaung Si waterfall. On the way back to the ship, we stop at the Laos Buffalo Farm, a social enterprise utilizing the abundant buffalo in Laos. Arrive in the heart of the temple city of Luang Prabang mid-afternoon where there is a buzzing night market and many great cafes and local restaurants. Traditional Laos Bacci ceremony and dancing on the upper deck during happy hour. Moor overnight in central Luang Prabang.

More about Kuang Si Waterfalls

DAY 5 LUANG PRABANG CRAFTS & CULTURE

Today we explore the various handicrafts of Laos in more detail. We start with Ock Pop Tok, a social enterprise providing sustainable employment and training for the women of local weaving villages. We then head to TAEC (Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre) to understand more about Laos musical instruments. After lunch aboard the ship, we sail toward Ban Chan and take part in a pottery demonstration at the local pottery workshop. We finish the day with a sunset cruise on the Mekong alongside Luang Prabang, returning to moor overnight in the centre of town.

Luang Prabang Crafts & Culture
Luang Prabang Crafts & Culture

DAY 6 LUANG PRABANG

Early morning walking tour to observe the alms offerings to the hundreds of monks who walk around the city every morning. We continue after breakfast to the morning market before taking tuktuks for a city tour of this well preserved and unique world heritage site with its many Buddhist temples, libraries and royal palace. The afternoon is free to explore the beauty and unique atmosphere of Luang Prabang.

More about Luang Prabang

DAY 7 PAK OU CAVES

Morning at leisure in Luang Prabang before setting sail at midday upstream. Afternoon sightseeing by local boat exploring the unique Pak Ou Caves, a Buddhist sanctuary with spectacular limestone cliff faces. See the production of local Laos whisky at the Whisky village and shop for locally produced handicrafts.

More about Pak Ou Caves and Nam Ou River
Pak Ou Caves
Pak Ou Caves

DAY 8 BAN TON AND SANDBANK BBQ

Day of sailing upstream along the Mekong with morning walk through Ban Ton village. In the evening, we moor alongside a sandbank for a special riverside barbecue and cocktail party. Light paper lanterns with the crew and enjoy a dance in remote Laos.

DAY 9 PAK BENG ELEPHANT SANCTUARY

Laos is known as ‘The land of a million elephants’ and today we will visit a rescue sanctuary that is helping to preserve the elephants of Laos and provide sustainable alternative employment for Mahouts who once trained and rode these beautiful creatures. Afternoon walk at Ban Pak Sith Khummu village.

More about Pak Beng
Pak Beng Elephant Sanctuary
Pak Beng Elephant Sanctuary

DAY 10 PAK SITH - CHIANG KHONG

Today we sail the final leg of our journey upstream toward Huayxay. Cross over into Thailand via the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge before rejoining your ship in Chiang Khong. Enjoy a ship tour of your Pandaw vessel and fruit carving demonstration from your Pandaw Chef. Farewell cocktails and Thai traditional dance on board for your last evening.

DAY 11 CHIANG KHONG

Disembark by 8.30 in Chiang Khong and group transfer to hotel/airport. En route, explore the Golden Triangle including a visit to the opium museum. Continue to airports or city hotels in Chiang Rai (2 hours) and Chiang Mai (6 hours).

Chiang Khong
Chiang Khong

DAY 12 HALONG BAY

Transfer from Hanoi to Halong Bay to embark your Pandaw ship followed by lunch on board. Cast off in the afternoon with a welcome cocktail for an evening sail, dropping anchor in a sheltered bay amidst the beautiful island scenery.

More about Halong Bay

DAY 13 HALONG BAY

Morning sail around Halong Bay and beyond with its 1,500 dramatic limestone islands and extraordinary rock formations, dating back 20 million years.

We make a stop at Viet Hai Village and continue our journey by mountain bike or electric buggy to visit the village’s vegetable farm and typical village houses. It is a breathtaking trip along a small road winding its way through the limestone rocks.

In the afternoon we will continue cruising towards Lan Ha Bay for a visit to a floating fishing house.

Weather dependent, we will end the day with cocktails at a beautiful beach in Halong Bay.

More about Halong Bay
Halong Bay
Halong Bay

DAY 14 HALONG BAY

Our exploration of Halong Bay continues and we stop at the so called “Dark and Bright Cave”. Take a kayak or a local basket boat rowed by fishermen and enter this remarkable cave into an enclosed area similar to a crater. Bats can be heard in the cave and massive stalagmites hang from the ceiling.

In the afternoon, we leave Halong Bay and are enter the river where we drop anchor near Hai Phong.

More about Halong Bay

DAY 15 THE KINH THAY RIVER

Observe the lively and interesting life of the Kinh Thay river, a key commercial waterway.

In the afternoon we visit Thanh Ha Commune, considered the origin of water puppetry in Vietnam. After a stroll or bicycle through the quaint village, we enjoy a private water puppet show set under shade by a beautiful pond of lotus and lilies, as it has been enjoyed for centuries.

We continue cruising until late evening and drop anchor midstream.

The Kinh Thay River
The Kinh Thay River

DAY 16 DAY RIVER

We sail along the Lower Red River and Day River this morning whilst getting more acquainted with your expedition vessel as you enjoy a ship tour. After lunch onboard we head ashore to Co Chat village, Nam Dinh. Here we visit local craftspeople making silk by hand and the local markets filled with exotic produce.

DAY 17 KHANH THIEN VILLAGE

We continue our exploration of the Red River Delta today, sailing toward Ninh Binh before mooring at Khanh Thien Village. We disembark in the morning for a journey to Phat Diem, home to Phat Diem Cathedral, a 19th-century Roman Catholic church built in an eclectic blend of Vietnamese and European architectural styles. After lunch we explore Khanh Thien Village itself, a cultural hub where a host of handicrafts including water hyacinth weaving and rice paper are produced. We end the evening with a performance by the locals of ‘Chau Van’ singing, an ancient art form local to this area.

Khanh Thien Village
Khanh Thien Village

DAY 18 NINH BINH

Discover ‘Halong on Land’ today as we visit Ninh Binh and take small bamboo rowing boats through the magnificent limestone caves. Visitors in September and October or April and May will witness the valleys shine golden as the rice fields prepare for harvest. We then return to our ship and sail upstream on the Red River towards Hanoi.

DAY 19 HANOI

Dropped anchor in the bustling city of Hanoi, passengers will visit some highlights of this Asian metropolis including must see’s like the notorious Vietnam war prison known as the Hanoi Hilton, temple of literature where Confucius did his thinking and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. In the afternoon we take a walking tour of Hanoi old quarter, a bustling maze of food and shopping that is an assault on the senses. We visit a coffee shop to learn about Vietnam’s famous coffee making industry and try a Vietnamese coffee.

Hanoi
Hanoi

DAY 20 HANOI

This morning we visit Bat Trang ceramic village, a hub of ceramic production for generations. The ceramics made here are famous throughout Vietnam and adorn many homes both north and south. Before returning to the ship, a local dance troupe will treat us to a lion dance on the pier. This colourful and energetic dance is customary during festivals throughout Vietnam, most notably during Tet. We then set sail into the lesser visited upper Red River beyond Hanoi and step ashore to visit the Thay and Tay Phuong Pagodas. Hardly known, yet with exquisite temples dating from the 8th and 11th century and home to some fine Buddhist statuary carved from jackfruit trees.

DAY 21 THE UPPER RED RIVER

In the morning we go ashore to visit the UNESCO praised village of Duang Lam. This ancient village is a well preserved example of a traditional Vietnamese village from centuries ago with intricate architecture and fascinating culture. In the afternoon, visit the carpenter and smith village of Ly Nhan to witness yet more expert craftspeople of the Red River Delta carrying on the traditional methods. We then sail upstream for your farewell dinner onboard.

The Upper Red River
The Upper Red River

DAY 22 VIET TRI

Disembark after breakfast and enjoy a morning excursion en route to Hanoi. We visit Hung Lo Temple and enjoy traditional folk music before continuing to the village of Tien Du where the ‘Non La’ conical hats, now so synonymous with Vietnam, are produced. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant followed by a transfer to Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport or Hanoi City.

WHATS INCLUDED

Cruise Price Includes: One overnight hotel in Hanoi, one flight between ships, entrance fees, guide services (English language), gratuities to crew, main meals, local mineral water, jugged coffee, teas & tisanes. Transfers between ports of embarkation and Hanoi International Airport at the start and end of the voyage.

Cruise Price Excludes: International flights, port dues (if levied), 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.

TRANSFERS & JOINING

DAY 1 VIENTIANE

Transfers included from your hotel in Vientiane to the ship in Pak Lay via Pandaw's local long-tail boat. Pick up will be at 08:00am so we advise to stay in VTE at least 1 night pre cruise. Please ensure your hotel information is provided to Pandaw so that pick-ups can be arranged.

DAY 22 HOA BINH

After lunch at local restaurant depart for Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport and central Hanoi hotels. Estimated arrival at Hanoi Airport at 15:15, hotels in Hanoi arriving 16:00. Your flight out of Hanoi airport must be after 16:30 (domestic) or 17:30 (international).

DAY 1 VIENTIANE

Transfers included from your hotel in Vientiane to the ship in Pak Lay via Pandaw's local long-tail boat. Pick up will be at 08:00am so we advise to stay in VTE at least 1 night pre cruise. Please ensure your hotel information is provided to Pandaw so that pick-ups can be arranged.

DAY 22 VIET TRI

After lunch at local restaurant departure for Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport and Hanoi hotels. Estimated arrival at Hanoi Airport at 14:45, hotels in Hanoi arriving 15:30. Your flight out of Hanoi airport must be after 16.00pm (domestic) or 17.00pm (international).

VISA INFORMATION

Downstream
Visa on arrival for Laos can be acquired easily at the border crossing and requires 1 passport photo plus USD40 - USD55 in cash for processing. Alternatively, an E-visa can be obtained prior to travel for a fee of $50 USD. Please use the official Laos E-visa website only - https://laoevisa.gov.la.

Upstream
Most nationalities are eligible for visa waiver in Thailand meaning no visa is required for stays of 15 days. Please check your local embassy for up to date information about your personal requirements.

Click here for further visa information.

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