Pandaw River Cruises
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May 2024


Many Pandaw passengers have been on cruises on the Mekong. Indian rivers like the Brahmaputra are very different. The average width of the Mekong is about 1.5km. The Brahmaputra average is more than 5km in the dry season. (In the monsoon season, July to September, it is very much wider and rougher but Pandaw does not sail then.)

This means that for a lot of the journey you will not see close up views of the land, just wide expanses of water. However, onboard activities and shore excursions keep you occupied, and the Saloon and Upper Deck are comfortable places to relax and talk to other travellers, a favourite occupation on a Pandaw expedition. WiFi is available in the Saloon.


Food was plentiful and colourful with lots of spices and vegetables in the Indian selections. Western options were available. The crew worried that we weren't eating enough. They seemed to be disappointed if we didn't want soup, starter, main and dessert for every meal. But the kitchen staff would also prepare special dishes on request. For example, one evening I was feeling under the weather and asked for a cheese and tomato sandwich for dinner. When it was delivered it was a prince among sandwiches. Toasted with several layers of molten cheese interlaced with slices of tomato. Magnificent.

All the crew members were friendly and helpful, sometimes overly so. (I did not really need someone to fill my breakfast cereal bowl, add milk and carry it to the table!)

Most of the excursions involved taking a minibus, sometimes for over an hour, but this way we saw more of the countryside and towns than from the boat. We had a wide variety of shore excursions, most of which went well. The Commonwealth War Graves in Guwahati were closed when we arrived because it was a Sunday. However Sunday at the Kamakhya Hill Temple was a crowded with worshippers and animals, mainly goats and pigeons. Sadly this temple practices animal sacrifice but nowadays many people anoint the animals with aromatic oil and pink powder instead of killing them. These are the lucky ones.

The standout excursions were Nameri rafting and the Kaziranga jeep safari and they were spectacular. Kaziranga is home to the world’s largest population of the Indian One-Horned Rhinoceros and I'm afraid we became a little blasé about spotting them but they often posed nicely for us! The tiger pictures that feature on the Pandaw website are a little misleading as tigers hunt by night and spend a lot of the daylight hours sleeping in secluded places. Just like moggies really. Since our tour took place at about 10am and many tourist-laden jeeps were on the tracks at that time, there was very little chance that we were going to see one. However we did see the carcase of a long horned buffalo that had recently been eaten by one.

The several Assamese dance performances on the Upper Deck were a delightful prelude to cocktail hour. Executive chef Kunal Shukla gave several excellent presentations about Indian spices and vegetables. My favourite was about Indian snacks, in fact how to make samosas. Many people tried their hand and we all got to taste the end results. Yum! Kunal is a star. Unfortunately the other presentations weren't so good.

Our guide Pranab and purser Lakpa gave talks about Assam and Sikkim. Their slides were dense with tables, small maps and graphs and were impossible to read even from the front of the room. A course on how to use Powerpoint would be useful.


There were some hold-ups on disembarkation day. Purser Lakpa had said that he only needed to print out boarding passes for various onward flights and could do that from 6am. Unfortunately in almost every case there were problems that necessitated phoning the flight company (Indigo in our case). This online check-in could have been done the previous day.

This was an enjoyable expedition and a nice addition to Pandaw's offerings. The longer Brahmaputra cruise was not available at the time we booked but would probably be even better.

Apr 2024


Our week on the Pandaw Riverboat on the Ganges was an absolute highlight of our month in India. It wasn't just the pampering from the staff but their extreme attention to detail concerning every aspect of our comfort, safety and happiness. We are not very mobile but every time we reached out there strong, willing and reliable hands to help.

A week of purer bliss.

Louella Archbold and Mary Arnold, Australia

Dec 2023


Our upstream cruise starting on the 19th Nov, only got better as we went along. My partner, Jeannie and I thoroughly enjoyed every day and evening.

The crew on board were terrific, always there to help and sometimes just before I needed help (I'm 84), nothing and I really mean that, nothing was too much trouble and of course a big smile to go along with it. The weather for the whole trip was perfect, how did you do that?

I hope I've wet the appetite of my friends to take one of your cruises.

Thanking you all

Dec 2023


If I had to describe our experience on the recent Brahmaputra cruise in one word, the world would be "brilliant"!

This being our 5th cruise with Pandaw, we thought we knew what to expect. But our expectations were topped in several ways: The culinary experience, for example, was the best we’ve ever had on a Pandaw cruise. The mastermind behind this is, no doubt, Executive Chef Kunai Shukla. Of course, there was a great team behind him, but his beaming presence throughout the day, be it in a presentation on spices or by being on hand almost around the clock, really was more than one would expect from a chef.

In early posts of yours you mention that a few things in India might be, well, Indian, and that the standards might vary from those in other Pandaw areas. This, in our opinion, was absolutely not the case. In fact, we thought that the whole crew, starting from the ships hands, were interacting with the guests in a very warm and genuine way and the standards of housekeeping were high, without any glitch.

If we just might make one suggestion, specifically for a country like India: That the bedding would be in pure cotton, rather than a blend.

This being your first Brahmaputra cruise, we expected a few "surprises" as to the sightseeing-program, thinking of Borneo… But everything went smoothly. Of course, there were a few minor details and suggestions from our side, which we shared with Arnab, the able purser on the ship. Almost not noticeable to outsiders was the discreet advice administered by Win, who stayed in the background and certainly made sure that Pandaw standards were always met.

Where do we go next with Pandaw? Is there a chance that the Kalimantan project could still take-off?

Best regards
Willem van Niekerk & Hans-Peter Kaufmann


Willem van Niekerk & Hans-Peter Kaufmann have created a picture book of their Brahmaputra expedition which you can click here to view online.

Feb 2023


We were worried that leaving the boat early because of low water levels was going to be a bit of a let down, but the journey on the smaller longtail boat was just as exciting and spectacular.

Feb 2020


Click Here to read the review posted on TripAdvisor by anntR7647JG in February 2020.

Feb 2020


Click Here to read the review posted on TripAdvisor by Markjd123 in February 2020.

Jan 2020


On January the 5th 2020 my friend Marianne Martin and I joined a Pandaw Cruise on the “RV Kalaw Pandaw” on behalf of us both I want to thank Pandaw and every Pandaw Staff Member on board for a memorable and fabulous Cruise. From start to finish the Cruise was a truly an amazing holiday. In particular I would like to mention our Guide Mr Deepak who was outstanding, informative and extremely approachable, Mr Lapka Bhutia, Hemant Kumar, Ramgopal, our expert Cocktail Bartender, The Head Chef and in fact the entire staff who made the 7 day Cruise unforgettable. Thank you we will be highly recommending Pandaw to friends and family.

Feb 2020


My wife and l would like to put into words our immense thanks and gratitude for providing us with such wonderful memories of our adventures in Burma that will forever be ingrained in our minds.

From our initial enquiry with Fred River Cruises to being personally escorted to the airport for our return journey home we cannot thank everyone enough.

Without seeing another tourist for days at a time the respective cruises provided us with a wonderful experience of the true way of life in the remote villages along the river banks, all of which which were filled with the loving hospitality of the ever smiling Burmese people.

We cannot thank those involved enough for giving us such a wonderful memorable experience. Absolutely every member of the crew and guides were wonderful and attentive, always happily putting themselves before all the passengers.

It would be unfair to mention any one person as everyone deserves our thanks and gratitude and to pick out an individual we feel would dilute our appreciation for others.

The everyday thoughtful touches together with attention to detail also made for an amazing experience.

Our thanks also goes out to the administration staff at Fred River Cruises and the Pandaw overseas offices in putting together our flights, wonderful hotel stays, transfers and the very attentive and helpful post guide that we had at Yangon.

We also feel that you should be aware of the massive contribution and the positive impact of your "Private Dining" option had made to my wife.

She suffers from Agoraphobia - an anxiety disorder which is characterised by the symptoms of anxiety in situations where she can perceive the social environment around her to be uncomfortable and at times will go at great length to avoid situations. This disorder together with her being hard of hearing can result in her using much of her energy to combat her disorder when for example being seated at a table with other people. By sitting on our own at meal times meant that she was able to preserve her energy for the tours and activities etc, where she is then able to enjoy mixing and interacting with all the other passengers.

By the way as with all the other guests, even though it was chilly at times all of us enjoyed the outside dining.

All the above has prompted us to book a further Pandaw river cruise, this time the 14 night Upper Ganges, together with a pre and post stay extension.

Again a big thank you to everyone involved in providing such a wonderful experience that far exceeded our expectations.

Best wishes
James Bamsey

Jan 2020


Just thought I'd let you know that my review of our recent Champa Pandaw cruise has now been published. Here's the link...

Hope you enjoy it.

Jan 2020


Jill and I have recently completed our after-trip comments for Pandaw and I also did one on Trip Advisor. Our December-January upper Mekong cruise was bliss, from the Pandaw assisted stay in Vientiane to the assisted stay in Chaing Mai at the Superb Rachamankha Hotel and the wonderful assistance at Chiang Mai's airport by the young lady from Discovery part of your after cruise package. This was an outstanding trip and we enjoyed the longtail boat segment as well; all part of the adventure spirit of Pandaw!

Most enjoyed talking to you on the long boat out of Vientiane and wanted to chat a bit more when we met up with you at the Opium Museum up at the Golden Triangle but you were captured by the incessantly whining Daphne and I didn't see a way to extricate you. Nothing made her happy. Anyways, you had a great crew, Say, Vong, Solera, Yut, and all the others and everyone with a smile ready all the time.

Jill and I are in the beginnings of our next Pandaw which will be the Irrawaddy but we haven't nailed-down dates or the specific trip yet. It will take some thinking because there appear to be so many variations between Rangoon, Mandalay, Pagan and then even a short one around the Irrawaddy delta. Much to think about so we'll be in touch.

Thanks for all your help, Stuart, and a pleasure meeting you.

Bruce Johnson

Jan 2020


We enjoyed our time on and off the boat. Cabin was clean and spacious. Indian food was delicious, european one could be improved. We've appreciated the excursions, improvement could be to add some wildlife experience.

Inside entertainment could be more diverse with some music or dancing exhibitions. Binoculars and a book on local birds would have been a must.

We appreciated our guide, Krishnendu. He has great knowledge on culture, religion and history. We had very good interactions with him, we highly recommend him and would definitely be more than happy to spend time with him on a future trip.

Hope this will help you for your future customers.

Kind regards
Marie and Dildar

Jan 2020


Concept: marvellous. There are more archaeological and historical wonders along the Ganges than on any other Pandaw trip we've taken. The villages we visited were unspoilt and the villagers wonderfully engaging.

Boats: splendid. We started on the Katha and transferred to the Kalaw because of engine trouble.

Staff: excellent. We were warned that the cruise would be run by an Indian management company. I thought the standards were as good as Pandaw. Ram as head of house-keeping was quiet, dignified, always there to help and superbly effective. The Ship Managers (Push Pak from Katha and the slim one from Kalaw) were fine, except when something went wrong, then they could be hard to track down. One example was a film show. They couldn't get it to work but instead of cancelling the showing they disappeared, leaving us to assemble, then drift away after 30 minutes. They were also not good when we got stuck on the sandbank. I accept that they didn't know how long it would take for the tug to get to us, but we would have been happier knowing that they didn't know, rather than being kept in ignorance.

Some exceptional things the staff did:

  • The sandbank party. I know it's a Pandaw regular thing, but these guys were marvellous dancers and got us all going.
  • Mick's 70 th birthday on board. They made a cake and made an occasion of it.
  • Excellent map of the Ganges with our destinations marked.
  • Excellent daily briefing notes with useful details (history, architecture etc.) on the back.

Food: excellent. We ate mainly Indian. The Sula wine was surprisingly good.

Excursions: superb, whether they were an unexpected stop at the town of Barh, or the two visits to Varanasi with excellent boat trips and a fabulous breakfast at the waterfront Hotel.

My only complaint is that, after our visit to Sarnath (which was a bit rushed), we were taken back into the chaos of Varanasi traffic to visit a silk weaving factory and shop. Those of us with no interest in shopping could have gone in one of the two minibuses, missed the traffic, and reached the hotel 90 minutes sooner.

Guides: Partha was not a success. He is thoughtful, well informed, and his talks to us as individuals or in small groups were excellent. His talk on Hinduism was truly enlightening. However, when he addressed the large group he adopted a slow delivery, often repeating key words, as though giving dictation to school children.

The other thing I found annoying was that he wouldn't sketch out the structure of a visit at the start, so, again, we felt like children being led around by teacher. He didn't explain why some changes to the excursions were being – e.g. we didn't go to Chandernagore, we went to Barrackpore. I still don't know why.

Finally, he ate all his meals with us and that didn't work. After a day we were a tightly bonded group totally at ease with each other. Partha has no small talk (at least in this setting) so everyone found themselves hoping he would go and sit elsewhere. The local guide in Varanasi was a more engaging character but he was much more interested in religion than in the sites – so much so that at Sarnath we left the group to go round by ourselves. And I think the trip to the silk weaving shop was his arrangement – see above.

Handling of the problems that occurred:

  • Broken engine on Katha: no problem. All was explained, transfer was smooth.
  • River closed to us for the last two days: no problem. All was explained (by Brett) at the start and the Tree of Life Hotel was very good.
  • Stuck on sandbank for 40 hours: I don't see what could have been done better. It was a low point in the trip, especially since it happened in the dry state of Bihar. We should have been better informed of progress (see above).
  • Pontoon bridges south of Patna. Not Pandaw's fault but we could have been better informed. We were told the good news (that we would go through at 9 pm) but not the bad news (we wouldn't go through, ever). That led to the worst event of the trip – the drive to the Museum in Patna (3 hours) giving us just 1 hour in that marvellous museum, followed by the drive back (2 and a half hours). But that wasn't Pandaw's fault. Pandaw did well to arrange a good hotel in Bodhgaya and plane travel to Varanasi.
  • Sickness: most of us had diarrhoea and vomiting, combined with feeling unwell. We counted 13/19 ill; others counted 15/19. It wasn't straight-forward food poisoning (I write as a doctor) because we didn't get ill at the same time – it started soon after joining Kalaw and we went down one by one. It was clearly an infection, not just unfamiliarity with Indian food. Staff were relentless in squirting anti-bacterial rub on our hands. Without stool tests I can't say more. Was there a carrier of shigella in the staff (or passengers)? I mention shigella because the explosive nature of the diarrhoea, followed by fairly prompt recovery, suggests shigella.
  • Alcohol: we had been warned, in our joining instructions, that alcohol "would not be served" in Bihar. We took this to be code for "but there's nothing to stop you drinking your own". So we were surprised that, at the Kolkata briefing, Brett took a much tougher line (and he thought we'd been properly warned, which we hadn't). So our Gin went into the Ganges.

A few more niggles:

  • The arrangements for taking our shoes off on returning to the boat didn't work – we were taking them off in the narrow corridor, putting them in pigeon holes, then collecting our key, before the next couple could get to do the same. Furthermore, shoes sometimes took 12 hours to come back to us. On previous trips we would hand the shoes to the staff on boarding, which avoided queuing in the narrow space. Perhaps handling shoes is a caste issue.
  • We booked cabin 105 10 months before the trip, to be far from the engine. We were given 109 (nearer to the engine) with no explanation. We queried it but got nowhere.
  • Staff would rearrange the dining room furniture (above our heads) after we went to bed. Noisy.
  • The shampoo and gel in the shower were too viscous to pour out. Most gel is viscous but you can squeeze the sides of the plastic containers. These containers were glass. How about handpumps?

Overall, we are glad we made this trip, even though enough went wrong for us to wonder at times. But those problems were not, on the whole, of Pandaw's making.

Jan 2020


Firstly, we did the Bhutan pre-cruise trip. We added two days to the beginning to give us a bit more time to cope with jet lag. This worked well, the hotels we stayed in were excellent and our guide and driver were top notch. With hindsight we would have liked more time in Punakha if only to stay in the fabulous Dhensa Resort another night.

We are seasoned hikers of the steep north shore mountains of Vancouver. In no way could you describe the Takstang monastery as a 'soft hike'. We laughed about this all the way down.

Navigating Delhi airport on the way to Bhutan is a potential nightmare for travellers. Fortunately we booked in to the Holiday Inn Express and their excellent rep met us and sorted out the baggage cock-up that is inevitable if you book in to the international part of the hotel. I have a lot of further information if Pandaw want to pass it on to other travellers. Incidentally, we had real issues with Indian eVisa which apparently cannot handle anything to do with Apple despite claims to the contrary. Other passengers on the cruise had no problems with PCs and our agent was also very surprised.

The last part of the pre-cruise was a day in Calcutta which was absolutely excellent. Our guide Partho turned out to be the guide for the cruise and we were well pleased with that. The Oberoi Grand is a fine hotel and a great jumping off point for the cruise. The assembly of guests prior to embarkation was well handled although we were a little bemused as we hadn't received any of the emails which seemed to have upset a few other passengers. I think this may be because we booked through our travel agent. It wouldn't have made much difference to us as we were getting on that ship no matter what. However it was a bit of a surprise that the ship would only go as far as Ghazipur and not all the way to Varanasi.

The first week of the cruise was a genuinely excellent Pandaw experience. The staff and crew of the Katha were lovely if a little inexperienced. The transfer to the Kalaw was handled with seamless efficiency and on we travelled. The Kalaw crew and staff were superb and very attentive. Unfortunately, a lot of the passengers got sick with a nasty diarrhoea. Some did not surface for several days. Jeanette was spared this scourge by, we think, avoiding meat, fish, seafood and salad and sticking to the excellent veggie options. I've never had to take antibiotics for TD before but I took azithromycin early on and that stopped it straight away. I was fortunate in that I only missed one shore trip.

Being stuck on a sandbar is an accepted hazard and we are used to it. We got stuck for a while on the Upper Irrawaddy. That was fun too. There was however a shortage of reliable information as to when the tug was coming and how the rest of the itinerary was to be handled given that we were nearly 48 hours behind schedule. In the end the cruise ended well short of Patna at the first of the pontoon bridges. A long way short of the expected end point, Ghazipur. It quickly became evident that we would go no further and this appeared to have been known by the ship manager for some time.

The shore trip to the Bihar Museum from this location was ill-conceived and poorly planned. Of the two buses ordered one arrived an hour late, the other we did not see until the return journey. Out of over six hours we had only 50 minutes in the Bihar Museum and had to leave as the museum was closing. The visit to Harmandir Sahib was abandoned. We arrived back at the ship tired and pissed off.

I was very glad that the onward itinerary was changed to an overnight stay at Bodhgaya and then an onward flight to Varanasi. The originally planned day would have entailed a train ride back to Patna and then the dreaded bus ride back to the ship. It would have been a long day even if we had been in the scheduled location. The train ride sounded like an excellent idea until we realised it would be in the dark and arriving in Patna at nearly midnight. In the end, it turned out to be a fair compromise but our luxury cruise had turned into a bus tour.

Nalanda was great and Bodhgaya was certainly an education in expectation. A long way from the site of peace and tranquility that we had envisaged. Overall we felt that Bodhgaya had been turned in to a Bhuddist theme park. Interesting to see how far Bhuddism has come in the last 2500 years. The hotel at Bodhgaya was comfortable enough. By now I was ready for a beer.

Our guide was now apparently running the show. I'm not sure that is what he signed up for and he certainly attracted some unwarranted flak from a couple of the guests. Overall he was very friendly, approachable and informative as you would expect. We usually plug the guides for a load of extra information and discussion and he did not disappoint.

Most of the next day was taken up with the flight to Varanasi and transfer to the Tree of Life hotel. Time we would have been much happier if we had been on the ship. The hotel was excellent and the food and service were top drawer. The evening boat ride was wonderful and dinner at the Great Kebab Factory was fine only miscommunications between the drivers meant we nearly made it back to the hotel before turning round and heading back in to Varanasi.

We loved Varanasi but by this time were exhausted by long hours of bus travel and airports. Jeanette missed the morning excursion due to being totally wiped. I managed to drag myself out of bed and made it with (only) five others. It was totally worth the effort, a wonderful morning. Sarnath in the afternoon was an oasis of calm as was the hotel but it was a big let down not being on the ship.

Overall this was a real eye-opening trip for us. This is what we have come to expect from Pandaw after cruises on the Mekong and Irrawaddy. However, the second half was a serious disappointment. It certainly seemed to us that no effort was made to proceed further than the first pontoon bridge and this seemed to have been known to the director long before we had any idea that we would have to leave the ship. The following itinerary was a hastily composed compromise that worked in part but was a long way from the ease and comfort on ship that we had paid for.

I'm prepared to accept that we weren't going to make it past Ghazipur; the Varanasi part of the trip was well handled from the Tree of Life. The bit in-between fell a long way short of what we have come to expect from Pandaw.

Best wishes for the New Year
John and Jeanette

Dec 2019


I have just completed one of your cruises on the Lower Ganges in India (Kolkata - Baranagar - Kolkata) from December 1st to December 8th.

I would like to let you know that I was very impressed with the boat, and the services and particularly the Crew. I could not fault any of it.

The crew went out of their way to do things for us, and were so friendly and joined in everything. They kept a constant eye on us when ashore to make sure we didn't get lost or hurt ourselves getting in and out of the Country Boat. Vijay runs a very good team and everybody looked happy. (he is an excellent dancer too) I know there were only 10 of us, which made things easier.

I was also happy that Brett (India Area Manager?) came to our guest house and organised for us to get picked up from there for the trip out to the boat.

Aditi was an excellent guide and organised lots of things for us that she knew we would like.

Please pass on my wishes and thanks to Vijay and his crew.

So thank you very much for everything and I hope all goes well in future for your cruises.

Lorna Saunders (Perth)

Dec 2019


Just to let you know the trip was great; crew fantastic and food gob-smacking .. (no pun intended!). Looking forward soon to Upper Chindwin - a longtime wish.

Weather has been good too .. though I hear Perth has had some seriously hot days/nights.

Thanks ... and best wishes for a wonderful Christmas.


Jan 2020


Arrived home a couple of weeks ago after completing our India odyssey, Varanasi to Kolkata by water. Yes our ship Katha made it the whole way down. Pandaw ships, when you step aboard your "Adventure" begins.

Trevor & Gail Harvey
Pandaw travellers

Dec 2019


We appreciate that this was a new expedition so we anticipated a few problems. Surprisingly we didn't feel that any little blip we encountered was enough to warrant a complaint, and our only negative comment of the trip for us was that the beds are rock hard and not at all comfortable but feel that this is very easily addressed by Pandaw.

I now must go on to the staff on board who were excellent throughout the whole trip despite some of them being relatively new to the job, they really did work so hard to please everyone. We would not normally single any one member of staff out but I have to say Ram head of housekeeping is a real asset to Pandaw to keep smiling and still be so helpful and hard working is to be commended.

We have to say that the food was lovely and plenty of it, some people complaining whilst we sat at their table all had "empty" plates at the end of the meal, I know food can be a very subjective issue but I think the empty plates themselves speak for the food.

I just want to finish by saying that we have already booked our next Pandaw trip for next March on the Red River and we are already looking forward to it.

Jim and Margaret Goddard

Dec 2019


Now that we have returned home I just thought I would send you an update. After an interesting vist in Varanasi and the frustrations of the early part of the cruise the Boat Manager and his crew did a tremendous job of getting things back on schedule. Though from what I hear this resulted in the need for what sounds like expensive repairs to the boat's propulsion system.

The extra excursions that the Boat Manager added went down very well.

The arrival of the new executive chef on the fifth day greatly improved the quality of the food. His willingness to engage with the passengers and listen to and act on their requests resulted in happier meal times.

The crew as always was great, very friendly and helpful. Sunil and Aman, the two boys who run the dining room are amazing personalities, are in tune with the passengers and do their jobs well. It's a shame that they don't get the opportuinity to see the places the passengers visit on their excursions as that would provide them with further topics for conversation.

Ram, the Housekeeping Supervisor, is perhaps the outstanding crew member. Always immaculate in his appearance he did so much more than his job title suggests. Yes, he made beds and cleaned cabins but also served drinks in the dining room, accompanied us and looked after us on excursions. Very importantly on this trip he was very concerned for the welfare of those passengers who came down with sickness, providing food and drink suggestions to ease their discomfort. He even turned his hand to entertainment with his Mehendi and Saree and Dhoti demonstrations.

Yes, there is room for improvement and I am sure Brett will brief you on the discussions he had with us all. The problems with the river, its lack of water and shifting sands, together with the issue of the pontoons are perhaps more difficult to solve.

Overall though it was agreat experience. We have new friends and a lot of memories.


Nov 2019


My husband and I spent 10 days in early November, 2019 on the RV Kalay Pandaw, cruising the Irrawaddy from Bagan to Mandalay, with many many stops along the way...neither of us had ever been on a river cruise and I had never been to Burma, so we looked very forward to this new adventure together.

I have so much to report so I thought I would do it by category :-)


The RV Kalay Pandaw is the smallest of the fleet, with only 5 cabins but a huge upper deck suite, which we were fortunate enough to reserve....the boat is remarkably roomy and quite beautiful, finished in teak and brass. The cabins are furnished with comfortable beds and sitting areas, an abundance of windows, big showers, air conditioning and in room air coolers, loads of hot water, and plenty of storage. The main sitting areas have enough room for everyone to stretch out on a sofa or get cozy in a rattan chair, or just stand and watch the scenery go by. This trip is like a playground for anyone with a camera...I think I took 3000+ pictures.


Led by San Lin Tun, the finest guide we have ever had (and we've travelled in over 50 countries so we've had our share), the crew on this ship were beyond superb.....I don't even have the proper words to compliment them but they have certainly set the benchmark for future ship travel. All of them, from the housekeeping staff to the captain and pilot, the chef ( and his staff), the purser (and his staff) and all the crew who assisted the guide, we simply could not have been treated better, more efficiently or more kindly. Honestly - we all felt like royalty and by the time the cruise was completed, we felt like we had made new, lifelong friends.


Where do I even start? For 10 days, we were fed an amazing array of sumptuous, beautiful meals, served with all the flourish of a five star restaurant and plated with such panache Instagram would have been proud. On such a small boat with a tiny, narrow kitchen, the magic the chef and his staff created defies description. I think my favourite was the pastry encrusted sea bass....OMG. And the salads we were served introduced my North American taste buds to flavour explosions beyond belief...go look up Tea Leaf Salad and then get the recipes for Ginger and Pennywort Salads - and you're welcome in advance :-)


For us, wherever we travel there is little better than mingling with the locals....and this trip was like thepièce de ré·sis·tance of mingling. We were so fortunate - we got inside people's houses by invitation of course), into school rooms, we were privileged to listen to children practicing their English by reading to us, we shared markets and festivals and wash day and play time and the every day moments of the Burmese from the deck of the shop or right there beside them. The Burmese are the friendliest, most welcoming people I've ever had the pleasure to meet and although we couldn't speak the same language, trust me - we were communicating. It was by far the highlight of the trip, beyond the tourist spots and the temples and the highlights that make Myanmar what it is....for us, it's the people. Always the people.

Irrawaddy River from Bagan to Mandalay 1
Irrawaddy River from Bagan to Mandalay 2
Irrawaddy River from Bagan to Mandalay 3

Neither of us will ever forget this trip and as a result of the excellence we experienced, we will absolutely be booking with Pandaw in the future. It was the trip of a lifetime and we will carry Burma with us forever.

Dave Foraie and Debbie Molle

Nov 2019


The boat was amazing and the staff were exceptional! We loved it, the best cruise we have done. Cabins worked out perfect. We are planning to now do all of these Pandaw cruises next year!

Aug 2019


We have just returned from back to back voyages to Nagaland on board Zawgyi Pandaw departing 27 July and 3 August 2019.

First of all we must thank Pandaw for operating the voyage downstream on 3 August 2019 with only two passengers – us! To say we were looked after royally would be an understatement. Captain Zaw Zaw Oo, Purser Fabian and all the crew could not be faulted – not to mention our guide Ko San Lwin who by the end of the two cruises was as much a friend as a guide. It may be unfair to mention individual crew members, but Ko Thura Tun and Ko Jackson, the deck stewards, were very attentive and the head chef, Ko Soe Myint Swe, let us choose the menu and provided seven lunches and dinners of Myanmar cuisine. On both voyages, Ko Soe’s meals were of International standard with imaginative presentation.

On the second voyage we still had two stops each day and most of them were different from the first voyage. They included a visit to Tonhe/Ton Hae where the Chindits crossed the river in 1943 and we met an old man of 92 who clearly remembered the evacuation in 1942 and the Chindits in 1943.

As we had visited the Naga museum in Khamti on the first voyage we asked Ko San Lwin to find somewhere different for our second call and we dropped in at the local nunnery. The nuns were very welcoming and offered us light refreshments in their dining area. This area would accommodate 15/20 visitors and we would suggest this be considered as an additional visit on future Pandaw calls to Khamti should time allow. (We visited a nunnery last year on the inaugural Delta voyage and this seemed to be popular with passengers).

Although not directly under the control of Pandaw(!), considering it was the monsoon season, we had relatively little rain during the whole 14 days and certainly nothing to interrupt our activities. In fact the river level was dropping. The friendly Nats must have been smiling down on us!

Once again many thanks and we hope to travel with Pandaw again in the not too distant future.

Kind regards
David and Judy Saunders

Sep 2019


I've been meaning to drop you an email over the past few weeks, and after looking again a some photos of a recent trip on the Pandaw Mekon from Siem Reap to Saigon, have now decided to do so.

My wife and I took the first voyage of the season last July. The Pandaw Mekong was an extremely comfortable, gracious and memorable experience. The food was excellent and the Staff outstanding. In particular, Jack (dining room) and Justin (purser) were friendly, caring and helpful. The fruit juices which Jack prepared after each excursion ashore were particularly outstanding and most welcome after our time on land.

The onshore activities were amazing. During our entire time ashore (twice a day over some seven or so days) we found ourselves engrossed in the activities provided. They were interesting, well thought out and a credit to Brian, the overall organiser of the onshore activities. It was amazing to be able to find ourselves in areas along the Mekong which were seldom visited by foreigners and we felt rather "special" because of this. This resulted in the visits making us feel we were really experiencing something out of the ordinary and that we were not, "yet another group of tourists." My wife is quite fit for her age (mid seventies) but always knew the crew," kept an eye on her" when boarding the tender or climbing into a canoe or clambering into a horse drawn cart - this was very reassuring.

So all in all, congratulations on providing such an incredibly interesting voyage down the Mekong. We were so impressed, that when we are in a position to investigate another holiday, we will definitely have Pandaw on our list.

Best wishes,
John & Dianne Ellis

Mar 2019


Outstanding aspects of our cruise include the amazing staff, mouth watering food, marvellous organisation and the inclusion of school visits and the tree planting. We were so pleased to be able to experience so much of the village life. We thought the huge range of transportation types was a lot of fun. We thoroughly enjoyed the company of the other passengers and were sorry to leave the cruise. Of course, the cocktails were a delightful bonus each evening. We loved our room and the physical appeal of the boat, with its dominant wooden theme. We have never been on a river cruise before and this has definitely whetted our appetite for a similar experience.

Mar 2019


We spent 7 nights in February on Pandaw’s ‘RV Tonle’ boat cruising on the Mekong from My Tho, an hour from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap. The boat is attractive and wood-clad throughout to replicate an ‘old world’ style of ship. The cabin accommodation was comfortable, though storage facilities were a little limited. Air conditioning was reliable and offered a welcome escape from the heat. Although sometimes described as a balcony, each cabin actually opens on to and is accessed by a shared walkway on which chairs are situated, not a private area. Service in the restaurant and everywhere on the ship was friendly and very helpful; it was lovely to return fromexcursions and be greeted by smiles, cold towels and cold fruit juice. Meals were generally of a good standard although breakfasts were a little lacklustre and we would have preferred quick buffet-style lunches at lunchtime, rather than having much lengthier, waiter-served meals. Everything was very well organised and ran smoothly from embarkation to the arrangements for the various excursions. Excursions were offered every day, usually one in the morning and one in the afternoon. These were generally excellent and most enjoyable; accompanied by guides, we were given some real insights into Vietnamese and Cambodian life. A highlight was spending some time with some lovely Cambodian school children who were keen to converse with us and impress us with their knowledge of English. In order to make our journeys interesting, we were transported for our excursions by a large variety of different vehicles - motorised sampans, canoes, carts drawn by scooters, horses and oxen, Cyclos and Tuk-Tuks - lots of fun!

In general, the cruise was an excellent and easy way to see lots of interesting things and places and we would thoroughly recommend it.

Feb 2019


We have just spent a wonderful week on the Orient Pandaw from Bagan to Mandalay, 9th to 16th February. The boat was beautiful, the crew professional, efficient, friendly and helpful and the food superb. The celebration they gave my husband on his birthday was amazing. We would recommend Pandaw to anyone wanting a holiday of a lifetime.

Thank you

Feb 2019


I have just returned from one week on your beautiful boat in Burma I wanted to write to you to commend the whole team on board the Orient.

I had very high expectations of the whole trip, but did not expect all the additional touches from crew and front of house teams.

The absolute delights just kept coming, from the unplanned cocktails and canapes on a sandbar (complete with teak tables and a bonfire!)!; plus the team bringing us Campari cocktails as we sat waiting for sunset on the lake by the U Bain bridge.

This was a team that truly deserves an accolade, from the purser himself, through to every single member of the team.

Our guide, Jay, also deserves a special mention. His command of the English language is exceptional, and this together with a lovely quiet sense of humour made such a massive difference to the shore excursions. I know he is employed by Pandaw on a freelance basis, and wanted you to know that every member of the passengers would say the same. Please continue to use this amazing young man for your cruises in Burma, he most certainly adds massive value to the experience as a whole with his incredible knowledge and gentle manner.

Please can you ensure that this commendation is passed on to the highest levels and that the team are recognised for their dedication and incredible customer service.

Mrs G L Wilkinson

Feb 2019


"The Pandaw trip was beyond expectations. The cabin was very comfortable with more than adequate air-conditioning. The food was excellent and the daily trips were all well organized and interesting.

Some of the passengers were actually staying on the boat for another 3 nights. They were going further upstream [ where the scenery was different from what we saw on the way from Bagan] and then back to Mandalay where they did their sightseeing via excursions from the boat. Had I known this was an option I would have preferred it to disembarking in Mandalay as we did."

Elizabeth Isles 1
Elizabeth Isles 2

Elizabeth Isles

Feb 2019


We wish to tell you that our experience on your Golden Lands cruise was absolutely SUPERB. Food was of international standard of any hotel. The staff were always there for me, with my poor walking. Particularly we would like to praise the purser Aung Gaun Goo. THe Guide Ko Yan Naing Moe was extremely informed and informative and personable. He prepared an excellent program.

We will travel with you again and recommend Pandaw to our friends.

Feb 2019


I have just completed a 10-night Pandaw cruise on the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. I am not a 'cruise person'. I like to see places in depth, so a few hours in a major city or an important historical location just doesn't satisfy me. But the Pandaw cruise on the Irrawaddy was an eye-opener. I had been to Myanmar once before, so I had spent two full-days in the amazing archaeological site of Bagan. I didn't mind, therefore, that we only spent two half-days in Bagan because I got to see so many other small, out-of-the-way places in Myanmar to which I had not been before ... and which it would have been difficult to see except on a boat. The itinerary of the cruise was excellent. The tour lead was exceptional, both because of his knowledge and also because of his passion for his country and its sometimes difficult history. The ship's crew could not have been more helpful and friendly. Their dedication to service-excellence was constant. The meals were very good, with the choice of Myanmar, international and vegetarian main courses for both lunch and dinner.

My only quibble was with the coffee, which was not memorable. However, when I suggested to Pandaw that they might want to consider espresso machines on their ships, I immediately received a reply saying that they are working on this. I am looking forward to taking another Pandaw cruise in the not-too-distant future.

Feb 2019


This was a wonderful cruise, and we are already looking at the new cruises in India with Pandaw. There were many, many things that we think you did very well. The daily excursions (without paying any extra) were excellent - all wonderful experiences and an up close and personal look into life both in villages and in the city. The food couldn't be beat...quality was excellent, it was plentiful, and we loved the options and themes. We greatly appreciated the abundance of water and beverages at no additional cost. We loved the upper deck - it was spacious and comfortable. The deck lounges were especially nice. We liked that there was a bar on deck. The boat and staterooms were kept very clean. We very much appreciated being greeted upon our return after excursions with smiles, wet towels, refreshing drinks, and shoes being cleaned. The whole staff was exceptional. The local tour guides on the cruise were knowledgeable, friendly, and spoke English well. The bed was very comfortable, and the air conditioning worked well.

Jan 2019


Dear Pandaw staff

I would like to thank you for another wonderful Pandaw cruise. This is our 6th cruise with Pandaw.

We just finished Pandaw’s 14 river cruise up the Irrawaddy from Yangon to Mandalay. It was outstanding! The rooms, food, tours were top notch and the staff and service are absolutely wonderful. The people of Myanmar are welcoming, friendly and honest and it is a very safe place for tourists to travel. This is our 3rd trip to Myanmar and our 6th Pandaw cruise, and I am sure we will be back! Here are some photos.

Stupas and pagoda’s in Bagan
There are 3000 plus stupas and pagoda’s in Bagan - this is a beautiful one!
Monastery school
We visited a monastery school and contributed for school supplies and balloons which were very much enjoyed by the young monks.
Pandaw II
We visited a village where they make large pots. Our Pandaw boat is in the background.

Thank you
Pat and Fred Atkins

Feb 2018


I have spent over 30 years in the travel profession - namely airlines so I am very familiar with how important it is to ensure that a customer is treated appropriately from the moment they contact the company to moment they end their trip. Quite often those who take care of the guest(s) prior to their arrival are forgotten so I would first like to express my thanks to Mr Duc Nguyen and Andre Dreyer. Both of these employees answered all of my questions and ensured that any changes regarding my booking were clear. They responded quickly and with kindness. Traveling 14 hours into the future over a two day period can be a little daunting even for someone like me who is a seasoned traveler (Dallas, TX, USA to Mandalay, Myanmar). It was comforting to know that I could reach out to your Pandaw staff for assistance. Traveling as a single person and woman has it's challenges as well and thanks to this staff I had less thing to worry about.

Next, the staff on board the RV Kha Byoo Pandaw was/is exceptional. While we were a small group of guests (7 for most of the trip) this team made sure that everyone felt cared for. Several of the guests had some challenges either with illness or physical needs. A couple of the guests experienced some stomach issues and the staff made every effort was made to ensure their comfort from making pots of ginger tea to dietary needs. One our trip mates had difficulty navigating from the ship to where our transportation waited or if a lot of walking was involved. The crew either provided additional assistance to help this passenger traverse from the boat to transportation or some local transportation while navigating a village. Without the additional help this passenger would have missed out on many of the magical and wondrous sites we encountered. This would have been unfortunate not only because of the sites themselves but our guide's (Harry Behite) intimate knowledge of Myanmar and the places we visited. He is amazing to listen to and I swear may be a walking encyclopedia! It very obvious that Harry takes the time to ensure that he is knowledgeable not only about the history of, but also the current state of the country. Not only that, but he actively works to increase that knowledge while he is providing guide services. Asking questions for us as we visited villages and spoke with local people.

I was reading in your Pandaw Flotilla News brochure that you have in the cabins regarding the efforts of your food and beverage Manager Stuart Hickman to continuously raise the standard of service and food on board to new heights. Please let Chef Hickman know that his chef on board the RV Kha Byoo did not disappoint. Every meal was absolutely delicious and beautifully presented. We all really enjoyed the night we had a family style meal. This might be something to offer more often during a cruise. Please let me know when the cookbook is available. My son-in-law is a Chef and we have been cooking together for over 10 years. We would welcome the opportunity to share some of those amazing meals with our family and friends.

I truly hope that I will be able to enjoy another cruise with Pandaw. It was one of the most wonderful experiences in all of my travels. To make sure that others experience it as well, I have posted your website information on two airline employee travel websites along with a recommendation. One site is airline specific and the other caters to all US airline employees and travel. I am already getting questions about travel to and from Myanmar. I hope that that you will see more of my fellow airline employees and their families traveling to spend time with your crews on your spectacular boats.

Again many thanks for a marvelous experience! I have one more request, to whomever receives this this email please ensure that it is forwarded to the Management personnel that guide these teams of people. It is important to say thank you and I would be grateful if the individuals who took such great care of all us from beginning to end were recognized.

Have a wonderful day!

Kind Regards
Catherine Wheeler

Jan 2019


Happy New Year. Please share this email with your Supervisor. I want to commend an incredible you as well as your incredible crew. I feel blessed to have met them all and to have been the reciperant of your expertise, caring and consideration and constant attention. From 1963 to 2008, I was Public Relations and Publicity Director working in broadcasting. I only tell you this because I needed to provide similar service. I feel extremely fortunate to have the had the privilege on being on board Pandaw II. I am certain that you all were aware of my feelings for you and the excellent care you took of your customers/guests.

You and the memories will stay in my heart forever.

Dec 2018


We have just returned from a trip with your company from Mandalay to Bagan on the RV INDOCHINA. The cruise exceeded our expectations in so many ways.

Your crew were so attentive, polite, helpful, kind and fun. We had a wonderful time and were very sad to only have 10 passengers out of a possible 56 probably because of the adverse publicity in the news at the moment. We would thoroughly recommend your company and Myanmar to all our friends - it was a wonderful time and we saw so many interesting places and people.

My Mother was born in Rangoon in 1913 which is why we wanted to visit Burma in the first place. She returned to the UK in 1916 and always spoke fondly of her time there.

Our guide for the week was Yan and he just kept us all informed, safe and comfortable throughout the trip. His sense of humour was infectious and together with the crew our time could not have been better. We paid extra for a front cabin on the upper deck which was very well positioned however as there were only 10 of us we had plenty of space everywhere. Our only comment is that the lighting in 302 does not allow being able to read in bed !!!

We will return to Pandaw another year and thank you for a unique experience.

Jan and Tony Hembling

Nov 2018


The cruise, WOW. Our rooms were great, comfortable beds, always stocked with at least 6 large bottles of drinking water and lovely linen and towels. Food and drinks on the cruise were great and we looked forward to each day's cocktail or perhaps several. The cruise had 30 people and we were divided into two groups with a guide to look after each group. We had Swiss, American, English and other Australians in our group, the ages varied from 30s to 70s. Our guide was very entertaining, knowledgeable and considerate. The daily excursions (always one sometimes two) were varied (walking, buses, horse carts, tuk tuk etc) and enjoyable showing us a wide variety of aspects of Myanmar life. Just sitting on the top deck watching river life was incredibly enjoyable. When we visited the teak bridge by boat at sunset we were all surprised when the ship's crew appeared in their own boat with cocktails for us all. A mean feat in such an area!! Dallas turned 70 while we were aboard the river cruise and the staff had discovered this from his passport. They organised a special celebration with the entire crew singing, dancing , a beautiful cake and a special gift. They also organised a romantic dinner for a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary on another night.

I have not copied my photos from my camera to the computer as yet but will send you some when I do. Stephen has some great photos at his wordpress site

Many thanks for organising the trip for us. I can not think of anyway that the trip could have been improved upon except perhaps more time to spend in such a wonderful country. I think if we venture back to Asia we will look at Southern India or Laos in the future.

Nov 2018


Hi Paul

We went on your 7 day Pandaw cruise down the Mekong River 13 -27 November 2018, which was a wonderful experience and the highlight of our 24 day holiday. Excellent just does not fully explain our experience. The boat is wonderful, each and every one of your crew were amazing, always smiling and so helpful, the food was absolutely delicious, all our excursions, which were varied,interesting, informative and enjoyable, were amazing and everything ran like clockwork including our transfers. Special thanks to our amazing guides Giang in Vietnam and An in Cambodia. An certainly went the extra mile by keeping us entertained on our 5 hours coach transfer to Siem Reap with the various uses for his scarf !! When we arrived in Siem Reap regrettably are prearranged transport to our hotel hadn't arrived after 30 minutes so Andre made phone calls then arranged for a tuk tuk to take us to our hotel - He was a true ambassador of customer service and a credit to your company.

We have wonderful amazing memories of our 7 days on the Mekong River and thank "all your staff" for making our time on your Pandow Cruise such an excellent experience.

Kind regards
Pauline & Nigel Hawkins

Nov 2018


I just wanted to write to say a big thank you. I have just returned from a Pandaw cruise ( Saigon - Siem reap) organised in conjunction with Audley travel. The boat was superb It had a real colonial feel to it. There were only 38 passengers who were all delightful. Some have become friends for life. The experiences we were able to enjoy due to the size of the ship and the knowledge of the local guides (Yang in Vietnam and An in Cambodia) were unbelievable, we didn't see any other tourists apart from in Phnom Penh. We felt privileged to be able to interact with local people in a way that wouldn't have otherwise been possible. The variety of excursions and the passion of Yang and An made for incredible holiday memories and photos.

The food was off the scale there wasn't a single plate in the whole week that wasn't first class. But wonderful as the boat,cabin and food were the real stars were the staff. From Paris, whose daily briefings were a triumph, Songhout, the wonderful barman, the lovely staff in the restaurant to all the people who made the trip go smoothly they are a credit to the company and your greatest asset. There was a real family feel to the whole thing.

I can never recommend highly enough the standard of your cruise experience and the friends we made aboard are planning a trip with you on the Ganges next year.

Please, please keep doing this in exactly the same way, it really was a life affirming experience and we did consider refusing to leave the boat.

Kind regards
Two very happy Pandaw converts
Tracey & Lesley

Nov 2018


Fabulous trip. Well beyond my expectations. Crew were amazing. Efficient friendly and lots of fun. I'll be back!

Nov 2018


Sending a review so you will make $25 donation!

My friend and I made the trip to Saigon then boarded the cruise up Mekong to Siem Reap (via Kratié) . I believe we took off on November 3. I really enjoyed all the hotels and tours you booked before and after the Cruise as well as the cruise itself. It was a nice mix of cultural things as well as learning about the everyday life of the Vietnamese and Cambodian people. Our guides were very good you could tell that they were interested to share their culture and history. I have to say the war museum and the genocide museum were quite difficult to see.

Though the cruise was very well structured if you wanted to rest you could skip one of the activities, since for the most past there were two a day. The boat was comfortable and the meals were very healthy. It was great to meet a cross section of other travelers.

I hope this information is of value to you!

Candice W

Nov 2018


Luxus auf dem Strom

Ein unvergessliches Erlebnis! Das Boot Mekong Pandaw bietet jeden Komfort, den man sich auf einem Boot wünscht. Die Sonnenuntergänge mit dem für jeden Abend neu kreierten Cocktail auf dem Sun Deck waren schon beinahe unwirklich schön! Ich vermisse sie sehr. Die Fahrt als solche bis Phnom Pen, wo wir das Boot wegen anderer Programmpunkte verlassen mussten, war entspannend und dank eines tollen Rahmenprogramms ereignisreich zugleich. Leider verging die Zeit wie im Flug. Service und Verpflegung waren erstklassig. So etwas zu erleben, das ist schon ein Traum!


Translation by Google from German to English

Luxury on the stream

An unforgettable experience! The boat Mekong Pandaw offers all the comfort you would want on a boat. The sunsets with the newly created cocktail for each evening on the Sun Deck were almost unreal beautiful! I miss her a lot. The trip as such to Phnom Pen, where we had to leave the boat because of other program points, was relaxing and thanks to a great supporting program eventful at the same time. Unfortunately, time flew by. Service and food were first class. To experience something like that is already a dream!

Nov 2018


We have recently returned home from another trip with Pandaw. I don’t know how each trip with your company becomes our favorite.

From start to finish the service was outstanding. All of the ship’s staff went far beyond there duties to make sure we were happy 24 hours each day. Our purser, Aung Aung Oo, was always available to answer questions and assist us. Our guide, Ko San Lin Tun, was so wonderful. He is a very intelligent young man and his love for Myanmar is plainly shown. Through his insight I believe we saw the true side of a beautiful country and met so many wonderful people. The smiles and greetings from the local people warmed our hearts!

I am attaching several of my favorite photos. It is difficult to choose only a few!

Arlene Wilbers on The Irrawaddy river cruise in October 2018

Now, thankfully, I am getting ready to plan my next Pandaw adventure!

Arlene Wilbers

Nov 2018


What a trip!

The Pandaw was fabulous, and the journey was exceptional. Thank you so very much for allowing me this wonderful experience.

I hope you can pass on to the Pandaw team my personal thanks, and allow me to single out some extraordinary people. Bee, our guide, was quite simply the best guide I've ever been fortunate to have. He was knowledgable, funny and always prepared to go the extra mile. Bo, who looked after my cabin, was friendly, thorough and efficient. The waiting staff - Noong, Khantee and Say - were brilliant. Always friendly, always ready to anticipate orders. And the food was simply outstanding.

The captains were brilliant, and all the rest of the crew was endlessly helpful and efficient.

I can't be more complimentary.

Again, my sincere thanks.

Best regards

Oct 2018


Good morning. We have recently returned to Australia after travelling on the Champa Pandaw on the upper Mekong through Laos (our second Pandaw trip). It was fabulous. There is nothing to say other than positives about the staff, the food, the ship and the experience generally.

Our guide Vieng was great - knowledgeable and very approachable. Our barman Htike Htike and our dining room "waiter" Suy were two of the nicest people you could meet, always on the ball, never without a smile on their face and hard working. Although we thanked them I would love if you could also pass on our great appreciation.

I have loved both of the trips and hope I am able to go on another, although having just retired it may be now a luxury! Having said that, it is great that everything is included. The members' package is a fabulous idea and we certainly made use of it and appreciated the discounts etc.

So once again, many thanks.
Regards Janette Grierson and John Storen

Dec 2018


We've now returned from our back-to-back Pandaw cruises to the Chindwin and the Mergui Archipelago. Many thanks for organising the transfers between the two.

As usual we met some really interesting people and had a great time even though the weather was a bit wet on occasions – to be expected at the end of the monsoon season.

I thought you might like to see a couple of videos showing our experiences.

The Chindwin River

The Mergui Archipelago


Oct 2018


Wonderful 7 day cruise. Staff couldn't have been more helpful and friendly. Food delicious. Inclusive trips were fun and educational, saw and experienced things including riding in an ox cart and dolphin watching in a local fishing boat, which we would have been unlikely to have done independently. Would definitely recommend this cruise.

Oct 2018


This was my second trip with Pandaw and even exceeded my expectations from the first cruise. I escorted a group of 7 and they all loved Pandaw and would like to go on another trip in the future. Nothing could be faulted. The ship is beautiful, the crew cannot do enough to please the passengers, the food is exceptional and the shore excursions so much fun. I am hooked and thinking of bringing another group. See you soon!!!

Oct 2018


Dear Paul (if I may?),

Hats off to you for your extraordinary Pandaw! We’re just back in UK from a week on RV Zawgyi Pandaw, Homalin to Monywa. Ever since our first Pandaw trip in 2001 we’ve wanted to return.

This latest cruise down the Chindwin (our photographs here) was perfect in every way. You have built an extraordinary crew, an extraordinary ship, a fascinating itinerary, and a wonderful experience for Burma-lovers like us. There’s a spirit of generosity about Pandaw, and the entire cruise was magnificently managed.

I expect you and the Pandaw receive peons of praise every day, so I’ll try not to repeat the same multitude of good things that others probably tell you. But two things in particular stuck out from our trip… It happened to be my birthday on October 3, but deliberately we kept quiet about it. Despite this, the Purser noticed the date on my passport (wow!). At the end of dinner the lights dimmed, a beautiful cake appeared, and with it the crew in dress uniforms to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ and other Burmese songs. Then each one came forward with congratulations and birthday greetings. I cannot tell you how touched I was.

The second thing also concerns the crew. Throughout the cruise they were disciplined, courteous, attentive, hard-working, thoughtful, and professional in every way. One fellow passenger - a lady - was in difficulties some of the time, but they all looked after her with great kindness and understanding. The standard of service was outstanding. Having run businesses myself, I have no idea how you have managed to build such team spirit in such a remote setting!

I suspect you are obsessive about detail, so one minuscule suggestion: in the cabin the switch for the bedside light is directly above the back of the bed. This means that if you are in the habit of sitting up in bed - e.g. to meditate - you’re in danger of hitting it with your back and switching on the light. It would be great if that switch could be placed between the beds instead.

Very many thanks for all you have created and the great joy Pandaw has given us (and thousands others). I read your excellent Pandaw book while on the Chindwin and have a tiny understanding of what it has taken. Emma and I salute you! We hope to book another trip soon, hopefully the Upper Chindwin next year.

All best wishes

Oct 2018


I would like to start by saying the 10 day Cruise on the RV Kalay far exceeded my expectations; from the stateroom, the excursions, the service, the food, the itinerary, and the safety concerns of the crew members for all passengers.

Unfortunately, on day eight of the cruise I fell and injured my leg, requiring stitches to close the wound. No one was at fault. It was just a “freak” accident. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for the compassion, care, and concerns that I received from all members of the Kalay crew. They quickly got me medical care and did everything possible to make sure that I was comfortable and taken care of.

I will highly recommend Pandaw to my friends, and plan on taking another river cruise with Pandaw.

Again I would like to express my thanks to the Kalay crew.

Linda Dombrowski
Compton, Illinois, USA

Oct 2018


This was our first and hopefully not last visit to South East Asia. In a four week visit of too many highlights to mention, the seven day Mekong Pandaw cruise from Saigon to Siem Reap was right up there. You would have to be very picky to find a fault as they have mastered the concept of managing their customers' experience, rather than just taking them on a cruise. There is evidence of lots of attention to detail. The cabin are appropriate size for a river cruise with lots of shore excursions available, the crew were attentive without being in your face and always immaculately presented. And the food was 100% on the money.

One teeny tiny suggestion - maybe the dining room staff taking lunch orders at breakfast and dinner orders at lunch time could ask your cabin number. With such a broad and wonderful menu available it sometimes became difficult to remember what we had ordered several hours before, and particularly after a shore excursion when it came to dinner time. This is not a criticism, just one one of those 'one percenters' that may make a difference.

Thanks Pandaw. We will be back.

Oct 2018


Loved the cruise. The staff were great - so caring and helpful. Everything was well organised and on time. The tours were all very interesting - we got to see many different facets of life in these countries using different transportation. The guides were very knowledgeable - i learnt a lot from them. The food was great as were the dining room staff. We were well briefed on what was going to happen. My cabin was comfortable and it was great sitting on the balcony watching life on the river.

All in all a memorable cruise.

Oct 2018


We spent an amazing week on the Mekong Pandaw. The crew were all amazing, well trained, polite, helpful, efficient. We couldn't fault them at all. The daily itinerary was announced at the end of Happy Hour and followed up by a written schedule left on our bed when the sheets were turned down. The daily trips were well planned, interesting and gave us an insight into the local life, especially with regard to the schools. The food was, to us, on a par wth 'fine dining'. We could not fault it at all.

Being a vegetarian can sometimes be a bit difficult. However the chef provided a variety of dishes during the week. In addition the staff remembered and I did not have to remind whoever was serving of the fact. Sadly I did not venture to the top deck for an early morning cup of tea. I was not comfortable going there in the 'dressing gown' provided so had to wait for breakfast for that first cuppa! It would have been nice to have had a tea/coffee station on each deck for that early morning drink. Something that could easily have been moved away when breakfast was served. I am sure this facility would be well received by otheres too.

Providing water refillable water bottles was to me a real plus and definitely better than using lots of disposable bottles. We were provide with an insulate bag to carry the bottles but, sadly, these were on loan only when it would have been nice to keep it. Also by providing ear pieces and radio receivers was also a plus on trips, especially when the guide was leading the group which, for logisitic reasons, could only follow in single file. We were all able to hear what he had to say and he did not have to shout !!

From the minute we stepped foot on the boat, the send off on trips, the return to the boat from a trip when we wer greeted with a cold flannel, cold drink and someone to clean our shoes, to the final farewell we were so well looked after, the trip will be remembered for a long time to come.

Thank you Pandaw your trips are awesome.
Julie Evans

Oct 2018


A great trip that gives you an insight into the everyday lives of villagers. The crew were terrific, very helpful and friendly. Jimmy's "GOOD MORNING LADIES & GENTLEMAN" always heralded another interesting excursion. Meals were great not to mention the open bar that flowed freely all the trip. The top deck was a special place to relax with a drink and watch the fasinating life on the banks of this mighty river. The cruise had just the right amount of excursions with enough time to meet fellow travellers and relax. It exceeded our expectations.

Oct 2018


Dear Paul Strachan,

My wife and I went on the Mekong cruise (RV Mekong Pandaw) 1-8 September 2018. It was indeed a very good experience. In the spring we sailed with Nour El Nil's Meroe boat (dahabiya) from Luxor to Aswan - same price as the Pandaw cruise, one day less, but the food, accommodation and the staff were nowhere near what we experienced on Mekong Pandaw. (We were only 14 passengers on Mekong Pandaw which obviously gave more 'room' to be alone - or come to know fellow passengers).

While the staff all were excellent, we would like to recommend Srey Leak Sieng, Dining Supervisor.

Thanks for the cruise
Best wishes
Dr Michael Vinding
Minister Counsellor (ret)

Aug 2018


I have now been back in the UK for almost a week, and I admit I cried at Mandalay airport as I was so sad to leave - poor Patrick, our Guide, must have thought I was mad!

I cannot express my gratitude for all the help Pandaw gave during my stay - firstly, to Marco for the prize of the cruise, to ALL the wonderful crew onboard Kalay Pandaw, especially Maung Naiong (our Purser), Thura Tun (who I miss every day as he looked after us so well with food, drinks and generally anything we needed), Lin Lin Aung (our Housekeeper) and the rest of the staff who ensured we were escorted on tours during the day (Medics) and generally looked after us, and for the knowledge gained from our wonderful guide Patrick Saw Zaw Min Oo.

Having never visited Asia before, both my sister and I were thoroughly spoilt and overwhelmed by everyone's kindness and the Pandaw experience, so much so that I am looking to return next year. I see from the website there are selected dates for no single occupancy - I will be travelling without my sister - and wonder if there are special Agent rates, or would I be better off booking as a single traveller/past customer.

Please could you let me know so that I can then try and plan a month's stay in Myanmar which will include a week's cruise or longer. I am thinking of the Upper Irrawaddy, possibly in conjunction with another cruise and along to Inle Lake, so would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Many thanks once again.

Kind regards,

Aug 2018


Having just returned to England from our South East Asia holiday which include a week on the RV Kalay Pandaw. I wanted to write to say how much we appreciated the care and professionalism displayed by the Purser, along with the entire crew and our outstanding guide Patrick. Both Patrick and the Purser gave us a lovely insight into Burmese life, sharing their passion for their country. There where many highlights during the week which we will remember for a long time.

Please pass on our thanks and appreciation to all the crew of RV Kalay. We will definitely return to Myanmar and another Pandaw adventure.

Best wishes
Elaine Watters

Jul 2018


Dear Pandaw team

Just a few days ago, we finished the Mekong Pandaw 7 day cruise from Siem Reap to Saigon (7 - 14 July). My hubby and I travelled with our two daughters (7 and 9yo). In booking the cruise, we were a little apprehensive about whether it would really be suitable for kids and also whether the trip would be too touristy (we are very independent, experienced travellers who tend to stay away from organised tours). How wrong we were!

All I can do is rave! This was possibly the best holiday we’ve ever had as a family. Everything about the boat itself was luxurious and spacious and let us have a really switched off and pampered break. There was plenty of room to escape from others and just watch the river slip by. But we also found that all the other travellers were lovely so didn’t feel the need to do that. The food was amazing, and the attention to detail with things like being met from excursions with a drink, cold towel and shoe cleaning was just so impressive.

Sophie Ray on The Classic Mekong river cruise in July 2018

The excursions were fabulous too - we met no other tourists except when we were in the city, and the variety of activities coupled with the excellent guides (especially our Cambodian guide Sam) made us feel like we were really getting a little local insight. We really appreciated Sam’s knowledge, great humour, relaxed manner and willingness to share his personal history and insights. It was also great having the headsets and earpieces.

As to whether the children enjoyed it, let’s just say they are already demanding to know when we’re going back on our next Pandaw cruise. That was almost entirely due to the outstanding crew on board who, without exception, were warm, welcoming, fun and genuinely caring. From the captain, purser Sam and Deputy purser Jimmy, to the hospitality and housekeeping teams and engineers- nothing was too much trouble and they really made us feel like part of a big family. Little touches like waving us off on excursions and writing a note from the Cambodian tooth fairy in Khmer for us to put under our daughter’s pillow when she lost a tooth on board made us feel like we were more than just clients.

Sophie Ray photo's from The Classic Mekong river cruise in July 2018

All in all, I cannot speak more highly of the Mekong Pandaw and its team. When you see both passengers and crew in tears as they farewell each other, you know you’ve experienced something special. We will be back soon!

Best wishes
Sophie Ray

Jul 2018


Hello James,

I suspect that you are still enjoying the last of the passenger free time before the next exciting expedition down the river from Hoa Binh to Halong Bay. So before I get back to a more normal life back in Perth, I thought I should fulfill my promise to you to provide an alternative critique to the rather simplistic survey you asked us to complete before we disembarked. It offered 5 stars against each item. I would have wanted to allocate 6!

For me, the 10 days on board the RV Anchor Pandaw was by far the most enjoyable and educational of my prior three trips with Pandaw, yet they had been excellent too. Why this one? Because of the variety of shore excursions, the unspoiled nature of the locals we visited and therefore their friendliness. At times their friendliness was quite overwhelming. The villages we visited gave such a clear insight into life for people outside the cities. And the cultural performances both ashore and on deck arranged by the crew just added to our appreciation of the people.

Then of course, there was the crew who we got to know so well in the 10 days. So obliging, so skilled in their individual tasks and generous in their willingness to serve and be friendly. The menus provided by the Chef were quite outstanding. And each day, I marveled at the Captain’s ability to deliver us to the next shore excursion right on time.

Above all else, I enjoy traveling with Pandaw because I admire the owner for his ethics and for what he has achieved in building the company.

Health permitting, I hope to be able to do another trip in the not too distant future.

All the very best,
Tom Herzfeld

Aug 2018


Quirky CruiseRead Glenice & Ian Warner's review of Halong Bay & the Red River on

May 2018


Thank you Pandaw for a wonderful experience! We are so glad that we did this trip. Having previously enjoyed the Mekong and Irrawaddy river cruises with Pandaw in 2011 and 2012, we were most interested in the Mergui Archipelago trip on first hearing of it in 2016. In February this year we decided we would "just do it" and booked for the final voyage of the season in April.

We joined the trip from Ranong in Thailand, travelling across to Kawthaung by long tail boat which was a fun experience. From the moment we boarded the Andaman Explorer we knew we had made the right decision. We had the most amazing time, visiting many of the islands in the Archipelago, all of which were totally different. We particularly enjoyed snorkelling and swimming in the beautiful clear waters and also kayaking through the most spectacular mangrove forest we have ever seen, as well as into the lagoon on Cockscomb Island on our last day. Apart from squid fishing fleets and a few day trip boats, we hardly saw any other vessels in the area.

The ship, which is an extremely stable vessel, was above expectations with lovely spacious cabins. Our thanks go to all the marvellous crew who made the trip so enjoyable. Last but not least our exceptional chef and his team, who provided us with the most delicious meals every day - fresh lobster, roast duck, home made burgers on the beach, just to mention a few! We are now looking forward to our next Pandaw adventure in October - the Red River and Halong Bay.

Thanks to all at Pandaw for creating such wonderful adventures!

Carol and Jeff Altmann
Perth, Australia

Apr 2018


Our trip on the Mekong delta was the first time we had been on a Pandaw cruise but certainly won’t be the last! Everything was perfect: the beautiful traditional boat, the wonderful crew, the astoundingly good food, the interesting trips, the comfortable cabins and our excellent travel companions. Our only regret is that we hadn’t previously heard about Pandaw but we have ensured that all our friends and family now know of your wonderful company. Thank you!

Mar 2018


The 7 day Mekong cruise on the Pandaw was the highlight of our 3 week trip. The boat was immaculate and the rooms were surprisingly roomy and well equipped. The best part was the food and service. I could not believe the variety of food and excellent quality that was served from the small kitchen. The staff were superb. The servers remembered what we drank and always served us with a smile. All of the extras, such as the free water bottles, supply of bottled water as well as filtered cold water from the coolers, shoe cleaning, cold wet towels and a refreshing drink on embarking from any excursion just gave the experience just that extra touch of luxury. The cruise itself was relaxing and a welcomed rest from the hustle and bustle of sightseeing. I would highly recommend this river cruise.

Mar 2018


Having read some of the comments on your website, it is hard to find a different set of words to describe the wonderful experience we had on our cruise up the Irrawaddy. With only 23 passengers on board the atmosphere was very friendly and welcoming. It is clear that after many years' experience, Pandaw truly understands how to ensure their guests travel in comfort and experience all the fascinating sights the Irrawaddy has to show.

For example, on the whole, the morning and afternoon tours were 2 - 3 hours duration so one was not left feeling utterly exhausted and it was lovely to come back to the boat at lunchtime and relax before the afternoon tour. The standard of service by the crew was outstanding - nothing was too much trouble and they were always around on the tours to help you up a steep slope or hand out the very welcome chilled wet wipes to clean your feet after visiting a temple. I don't think they saw it as service they had to do, but rather they treated us as if we were their parents/grandparents and they always did it with a smile and so willingly.

This review would not be complete without mentioning the excellent array of food offered each day - everything we ate was delicious and beautifully presented. We particularly enjoyed the local dishes they prepared and it was obvious everything was freshly made right down to the croissants for breakfast.

There were so many highlights but perhaps the one I most enjoyed was the surprise beach party when all the crew and guests joined together for dancing and canapes - it was such fun and lovely to be able to be at one with the crew - it really was like a big family occasion. Again on the final evening when we said thank you and farewell to the crew, we all danced together and said out goodbyes.

I thought the cruise was excellent value for money and hope that Pandaw can continue to maintain their high standards as they grow their excellent product.

Apr 2018


We recently returned from an extended holiday in Vietnam and Cambodia. The highlight of our adventure was the Halong Bay and Red River expedition aboard the beautiful RV Angkor Pandaw.

Sailing with Pandaw was everything we hoped it would be, and more. Vietnam is a country of spectacular beauty, rich in culture and diversity. Exploring the scenic countryside and artisanal villages along the Red River provided unique insight into a Vietnam unspoilt by the crush of tourism. The ship is well appointed and comfortable; the crew and guides, knowledgeable and attentive; the excursions well planned; the food delicious.

Janice and Greg McDougall on board the RV Angkor in Vietnam's Halong Bay and the Red River cruise.

Special thanks to the Captain, Purser Poly, entire crew and guides Tifo and Duoc.

We hope to sail with you again.
Janice and Greg McDougall

Mar 2018


The trip down the Irrawaddy on the Pandaw 2 was a most memorable experience, made so not only by what we saw and experienced but by the crew. The crew was always friendly and helpful and considerate and flexible.

Because of the nature of the river, the Irrawaddy presents a number of challenges when it comes to mooring the boat safely and it was interesting to watch the crew while performing this task. Sometimes it was a gently sloping bank other times a steep one and they always made sure that the gangplank was positioned as safely as possible and in a manner that made it easy for us to cross. Crew were always standing by to give any assistance necessary transferring from the boat to the road.

The food was delicious and the biggest problem was not over-eating as a result! Tun's smiling face was there to welcome us at each mealtime and within a very short space of time he knew all our names and cabin numbers without having to ask, even though it was free seating and we moved around from meal to meal. Most impressive. The menus were varied and the galley was flexible in providing something different if someone's stomach was out of sorts and in serving small portions if requested.

We soon got used to seeing the crew multi-tasking and helping our local guides when we were on an excursion. They were most useful helping us with our purchases in the markets if one of the guides wasn't nearby and just being there to make sure we didn't get lost.

I can thoroughly recommend a trip on the Irrawaddy with Pandaw and would consider this company first if I take another river cruise where they are operating.

DH, March 2018

Mar 2018


As usual, Pandaw delivered with a wonderful river cruise.

This was our third cruise with Pandaw and they continue with their tradition of superb service from a delightful crew, delicious and varied food and an itinerary that allowed a nuanced exploration of a fascinating country touching on many of the less travelled areas after a beginning with two days in the spectacular Halong Bay.

We have always found the people who staff the Pandaw cruises to be dedicated to meeting our every need while maintaining a warm, friendly attitude. Every member of the crew was exceptional as were our two guides. The food was consistently delicious with plenty of opportunities to experience fine Vietnamese cuisine alongside well prepared western options. The daily salads were a welcome treat and always tasty and creative.

We really loved everything about this cruise and will continue to travel with Pandaw in the future.

Stephen Winter

Mar 2018


Dear Sven,

We just departed the Laos Pandaw yesterday here in Vientiane and want you to know that the trip was fantastic. We love your new ship and especially the wonderful crew members. Your Captain Houm Phan was great to all of us and we certainly respect his knowledge of the Mekong River. He was always looking out for our safety. He is especially caring person and gave us a great farewell speech. We cannot say enough good things about him.

In addition, Our Senior Purser, Mr Saroueng Em and guide Mr Bee, did an outstanding and I repeat, OUTSTANDING job of taking care of us. These men and the rest of the crew are a great credit to your company. Jimbo and I look forward to another trip on one of your ships in the very near future. Please give our great regards to all these men and women.

Thank you again for a wonder vacation with your family,
Capt. Gerald Salvo
Mr. James Graf

Mar 2018


Back home now and I write immediately to congratulate you enormously on the calibre of the crew on Zawgyi last week. Happy and efficient. We have used ships of many companies in many places and never have we been so well looked after. The staff got to know our names and preferences on the first day - it felt like the Ritz - and were unfailingly courteous, attentive and pleasant. Great food. And special praise for our extrovert and personable guide, Patrick, who clicked with crew, passengers and villagers alike, getting the best out of everybody. For example, we gate-crashed a village wedding….and he very smoothly turned away their pressing invitation to sit down to a meal with them! And the crew gave a really great beach bbq party with a totally fun atmosphere - not the forced thing lesser companies do and which gets a groan from people of our age.

But what I would really like you to know - events at a settlement of river gypsies - Kyar Inn in Mawlaik township. They had not been visited before. My doctor wife noticed a 2yr old boy with hare lip, eminently operable. 24 hours later your people had arranged for him to be operated on in Sagaing next month, having found a specialist clinic, worked out accommodation and transport and discussed it with the mother - a most impressive feat of organisation by, I think, Patrick and the purser, Tun Tun Lin. We passengers were delighted to underwrite the cost, some $350 - and thanks to email we can look forward to hearing how it works out. And if that's not enough, the 4-strong Swiss group gave money to replace a family’s hut which had been burnt down by an aggrieved father [we think….. ].

David and Janet Knowles on board the RV Zawgyi Pandaw River cruise ship sailing on the Chindwin river in Burma (Myanmar)

The downside to cruising with Pandaw is feeling guilty! - living in comfort surrounded by poverty [even if the Burmese don’t look put out by it] - it is great to get close and be able to do something worthwhile.

With great good wishes and congratulations on your achievements in setting up a most enjoyable and innovative company,
David and Janet Knowles

Feb 2018


Dear Paul and company,

My husband and I just made our first trip to Southeast Asia and our first Pandaw cruise. (We've traveled extensively in India and China as well as Europe but have never taken a cruise.) It was a remarkable experience. We returned last night and amidst the hustle bustle of unpacking and picking up the work and life pieces, I wanted to make sure I took time to let you know how much we enjoyed the cruise. The excursions were wonderful. It was imperative to experience the killing fields and Tuol Sleng, and our guides were extremely appropriate, encouraging us to go, giving us accurate information, giving us time on site for reflection, and being gentle but clear with the challenging facts. Very powerful.

I would particularly like to comment upon our guide, Kunthul Vann. He created a family atmosphere in our small group and was knowledgeable, approachable, informative, warm and gracious. His English was quite good. He shared stories of his life at appropriate times and greatly added to my sense of beginning to understand Cambodia.

Joan Stockbridge on Pandaw's Classic Mekong river cruise in Jan 2018

Altogether, thank you for your attention to detail and your evident care for Southeast Asia. We will take another river cruise on Pandaw!

Joan Stockbridge

Feb 2018


Everything about this trip was so good that it is difficult to know where to begin.

So, let us start with the boat...RV Pandaw II. It has an old world charm although it is relatively new. The cabin is comfortable. The shower is hot. The boats facilities are very good and all are comfortable. The crew are amazing. They work together so harmoniously to get the job done, whatever that job may be or its difficulty. They are always there to assist with a friendly smile and a greeting...Mingarlarbar! Tun, in the dining room has the service running so smoothly. You never have to ask for anything a second time. Everyone remembers your preferences.

The Chefs do a remarkable job. The food is varied. Over the 10 days of our trip a repeat dish was never on the menu. The wine selection is varied and offers something for each palate. The food is always served hot on warm plates.

Catherine Nash on Pandaw's Golden Land river cruise in Burma (Myanmar)

The shore excursions are varied and educational as well as thoroughly enjoyable. One of my strongest memories of the trip will be able to wander through villages, chatting with the village residents with the assistance of our guides, Mr San and Mr Brown. Both gentlemen were very knowledgeable and were tireless in sharing their knowledge. It was inspiring. The person who was always everywhere at any time of the day was the Purser. It was fun to hear his 'Welcome Home' when we all returned from a shore excursion.

Thank-you to all at Pandaw who created and implemented a trip that has created so many special memories.


Jan 2018


Hello Paul

We have just returned from a wonderful week aboard the RV Orient Pandaw. Thanks so much to you and to all the team of Pandaw and especially the officers and crew of the RV Orient Pandaw, we couldn't have asked for more. Our transfers from and to the airport were excellent. Comfortable, on time and on the way from Mandalay to Bagan our driver bought us a cold drink at a coffee shop, how kind. The shore excursions were faultless, so interesting and very well paced. Ronald, our guide, was very knowledgable and helpful. Mau, the purser, arranged a private guide for us in Bagan on our first full day in order that we didn't miss anything which the other guests had seen on their first day. Very thoughful of him and much appreciated. His organisation and helpfulness is a credit to him and to you.

We loved the places we called at, it was so lovely to walk round the villages and the Myanmar people were so welcoming to us.

Martin and Maureen Whitehead on Pandaw's Mandalay Pagan Packet river cruise in Burma (Myanmar)

What really made our trip so wonderful was being on your boat. We were welcomed home by the officers and crew each time we boarded and it really did feel like home. The food was excellent and plentiful, great variety each day, we particularly loved the Myanmar salads served at lunchtime and the local food options whenever available. Service in the restaurant was excellent and always served with a smile by both the waiting staff and the kitchen staff. Special mention for Soe Moe and Lin Lin on the sun deck. Very attentive, great cocktails and they went the extra mile, even tethering my phone to theirs when the boat wifi was playing up.

As a measure of how much we enjoyed it , on returning, in fact en route home when changing flights at Bangkok, I was in touch with your staff to book another expedition. The Laos Mekong in November. Many thanks to Huong for helping me to book this members only expedition. She displayed what we have now come to think of as the Pandaw exemplary service.

You have exceeded our expectations and we will now be regular guests of Pandaw.

Kind regards
Martin and Maureen Whitehead
Kuala Lumpur

Feb 2018


Hello Sven,

Just a note to let you know of the fantastic time we had on our trip with Pandaw on the Irrawaddy. I must let you know it went far beyond my expectations and the additional treat for Kay’s birthday was most wonderful. The whole crew (including the Captain) came on the rear deck and sang Happy Birthday , complete with a cake!

Then followed a most memorable New Years eve celebration.

The whole trip was first class, the meals were wonderful the crew went above and beyond at all times, the visits to the villages were perfect.

My thanks to you and your team for your assistance in helping us though the booking process, all very well done.

I am recommending Pandaw to my friends and family.

Please pass this note to the owners , what a great job to create such a wonderful experience from scratch!

Kindest Regards to all the Pandaw team,
Richard and Kay Rankin.

Jan 2018


Our trip on the Champa Pandaw was made very enjoyable and special by the care and attention from all the crew. Additionally, we felt lucky that every passenger was friendly and had a good sense of humour. The ship was decorated for Christmas and had a tree with lights - thank you.

Every effort was made to take care of us - many details undertaken to cater for our every need. Water and walking sticks for excursions, crew members to walk with us over difficult pathways, or to help us with shopping in small villages, exceptional guide services and detailed commentary with Vieng. On return from excursions, hand wash, cold towels, cold drinks to welcome back to the boat. Always friendly greetings and laughter awaited us.

New Year was celebrated in great style with special food and later all the crew joined with us with games and unexpected gifts for everyone. Then the crew played the guitar and sang Lao songs. In our room chocolates and a beautiful card.

The food is exceptional and delicious. Most passengers enjoying the local food best. All keen to try 'a little more chilli' and also to taste the delicate flavours. The chef's large variety of menus kept us all eating too much!! The professional service along with the beautiful food presentation is something we will always remember. We all enjoyed Chef Mr Mim's cooking demonstrations. Kop chai ly ly derrrr :)

The wait-staff were always attentive - Bow's happy nature and excellent English always shines. Viengsay joined us from Lao Pandaw and was friendly too. Our rooms were serviced promptly - usually while we were breakfasting (thanks Bow!)

I want to especially mention Say. His infectious smile and personal presentation along with his perfect hospitality training was noticed by us all. He deserves a special commendation.

Our Purser, Waew provided detailed nightly briefings and her great smile and little jokes were appreciated...she kept things "ship-shape" (new word!)

The character of the voyage was Vieng. As Guide he has a very important role and he is conscious of that all the time. Nothing is too much trouble for him. He has good, accurate knowledge of the area, the crops, the local villages and their people and cultures and general history. Vieng is respectful and friendly to the villagers and they seem always happy for us to visit. Additionally Vieng has regular crazy stories to tell us at the briefing...or during the day. His infectious smile and chatting keeps us laughing and waiting for the next visit or adventure. I feel that Vieng's communications with the group are - as we say - "above and beyond the call of duty".

On our longer excursions, I noticed that there was always staff from the boat watching over the group - Tor, Bow and others were always making sure we could manage steep areas, or that we didn't get lost on the longer treks.

In the later days the Captain had to go ahead to check water levels to provide safety for the ship but also for the passengers of course. I think everyone appreciated the high level of sailing and navigational skills required to make this river voyage safely.

Vicki and I would like to thank everyone on the ship for this exceptional and unique experience aboard Champa Pandaw. We would ask that you report this message to all the staff and crew on the ship.

We both hope that we have an opportunity to join Pandaw again in the future.

Maxine Godley and Vicki Stannard
December 2017

Mar 2018


Dear Paul

My wife, Barbara, and I were guests on the Laos Pandaw cruise from Vientiane to Chiang Saen from the 2nd to 12th December. On sorting the papers out I find a note asking for some feedback and ideas for improvements. I’m afraid we are going to disappoint you.

There is absolutely nothing that I can imagine to improve upon our experience. The delights of exploring the quiet country of Laos, the superb boat, the wonderful crew – all with different regional backgrounds and skills – all made it an unforgettable trip. That part of Asia was a somewhat unfamiliar destination which we wanted to explore by river, but we rapidly got depressed by the package tours and the larger river cruises on offer on the lower Mekong. (We tend to travel independently, but enjoy the company of a small group of people; otherwise, I would prefer to chew a leg off than go on an organised cruise). As I gather is common, an old friend then recommended that we try a Pandaw cruise. I will still never “go on a cruise” but Pandaw doesn’t count – it belongs to its own unique category.

Perhaps the only comment worth making is that some tour dates were not available to us as they were apparently block booked by tour operators. For us, one of the great pleasures was sharing the trip with 14 other people from 8 countries, who had all booked independently, with a wide and varied lifetime of experiences to share. I suspect if we were on a voyage with 9 other couples like us from similar backgrounds, we would rapidly tire of our company! I think a significant part of the charm of the cruises would be lost if they became just another homogenous package tour group offering.

With many thanks and very best wishes,
Frank and Barbara Almond

Mar 2018


Click Here to read Stephen Horsfield's testimonial blog of his Laos Mekong river cruise in December 2017 on-board the RV Laos Pandaw between Vientiane and Chian Saen.

Mar 2018


Dear Mr Strachan

I just wanted to let you know how much my wife and I enjoyed our two cruises with Pandaw in 2017.

It was almost by accident that we came across you in the first place. We were looking for a Mekong trip in February which fitted our travel plans and found the up-stream trip on the Mekong Pandaw from Saigon on 12th February.

As our first ever river cruise we were delightfully surprised with everything from the food and accommodation to the professionalism and helpfulness of the crew. What particularly impressed us was the ability to get off the normal well-worn tourist track and meet local people who were simply getting on with their lives on and alongside the river. We even gave an English lesson at a local school!

Ian and Catherine Robertson on board the RV Kindat Pandaw River cruise ship sailing on the Upper Irrawaddy river in Burma (Myanmar)

It was during this trip that we learned the history of Pandaw and its origins in the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company.

Our trip was from Bagan to the Upper Irrawaddy on the Kindat Pandaw on 25th November. Again we thoroughly enjoyed the ten days and have nothing but praise for the crew who looked after us with patience, helpfulness and good humour. As with the team on the Mekong, they genuinely enjoy their work and are very proud to represent the Pandaw brand with all that it means for local people and their economy.

Ian and Catherine Robertson

Dec 2017


Dear Stuart

Merry x-mas and a happy new year.

It was a very good experience with the boat from Bagan to Mandalay. You do a very good job with the beautiful crew. Very nice and helpful people.

Dieter Wellinger on Pandaw's 2 night Pagan to Mandalay short cruise in Myanmar.

Thank you very much
Dieter Wellinger

Dec 2017


Having previously experienced the wonderful world of Pandaw on their Red River and Halong Bay and Classic Mekong Expeditions, we were looking forward with eager anticipation to joining their Laos Mekong Expedition on the Upper Mekong.

With embarkation scheduled for Tuesday in Chiang Saen Northern Thailand, we decided to start three days early in Chiang Rai, a close by city with an airport. This was to acclimatize and explore a little.

We arrived at our hotel on Saturday morning and after a lazy day we headed into Chiang Rai town and its Saturday night Walking Street – essentially a long street market, Night Market and restaurants where we took dinner. On Sunday morning and a short Tuk-Tuk ride we enjoyed the serene calm and beauty of the Mae Fah Luang Art and Culture Park. On a short walk after lunch we stumbled across the Naval Pillar. This is the spiritual centre of Chiang Rai and we were able to witness an elaborate ceremony by a local business giving thanks for its success. Another trip down town for dinner rounded off the day.

The rest of our group was due to join us on Monday but before they did we took another short Tuk-Tuk ride to the spectacular Blue Temple with its intense Cobalt Blue and Gold decoration. When the rest of the group arrived, we went off to see the White Temple and Wat Huay Pla Kang with its huge Buddha image and modern pagoda that was so clearly visible from our hotel room.

Tuesday morning and we set off for Chiang Saen. On the way we visit the Hall of Opium Museum. Built under the patronage of the Thai Royal Family it gives a moving insight into the history and politics of the opium trade and its devastating effects on peoples’ lives, as well as the success of the Thai Royal Family in stopping the growing of opium poppies in favour of other, more beneficial crops.

On to Chiang Saen and a stop at the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos and Burma sit side by side, lunch and finally on to Chiang Saen Port for embarkation. The crew of RV Champa Pandaw was on the quayside to greet us and ensure the rapid transfer of our baggage to our cabins. A short time later our purser, Waew, welcomed us to the ship, gave us a safety briefing and introduced our guide, Vieng, who was to accompany us throughout the trip.

A short sunset cruise round the Golden Triangle was followed by cocktails and a programme of Thai Traditional Dancing.

There then followed the first of many sumptuous meals beautifully prepared and presented and expertly served by our crew.

A buffet style continental breakfast with the option of freshly prepared hot dishes was the perfect start to the day although coffee and pastries were available from 6am. During breakfast we were asked to make our selection of main course for both lunch and dinner. With three options for both meals, broadly Asian, Western and Vegetarian, there was always something for everyone. Lunch had salad, soup and dessert served buffet style so you could have a lighter meal if you wished. Dinner also had starter, soup, main course and dessert but waiter served.

We looked forward to the friendly banter with the crew during mealtimes and they were quite happy for us to change our main course order if any of us had changed their mind.

Steve Bousfield aboard the RV Champa Pandaw river cruise ship

Our first night was spent moored at Chiang Saen as it was necessary to complete Thai emigration and Laos immigration next morning before proceeding on our journey.

With the lush mountain scenery of Laos to our port side and Thailand to starboard we headed to our first stop – the village of Ban Dan.

The Upper Mekong is surprisingly rocky with rapids and sand bars in profusion but our skilled captain deftly threaded his way through these obstacles safely and securely.

We cast off early next morning and after a quick stop at Pak Tha to complete formalities for using the river were on our way to the Khmu village of Ban Pak Sit. We were welcomed by the villagers and after observing the local way of life we headed for the village school which gets some support from Pandaw and its guests.

During the afternoon cruise, our guide, Vieng attempted to teach us some of the basic words of the Lao language. In the later afternoon we moored at a riverside beach and headed to the village of Ban Huay Ka. With school finished for the day the children thought it great fun to accompany us on our walk around their village.

Returning to the ship we found a beach barbecue had been set up with the crew busily preparing tasty snacks and drinks. Then as night fell we were joined by some of the villagers in sending up fire lanterns into the night sky.

Another early start, then after breakfast, a visit to the Pak Ou caves with their hundreds of Buddha images.

Across the river now and a village with an elephant camp for some close encounters, including bathing with the elephants in the river.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the highlights of our Expedition, Luang Prabang, is the next stop on our itinerary. We stay here for two nights so that we can appreciate the beauty of the city.

Casting off around lunchtime we continue our journey to the Butterfly Garden and dramatic Kuang Si Waterfall.

Steve Bousfield on Pandaw's Laos Mekong river cruise

On our way again, we arrive at Ban Nasarn village for our overnight stop. Breakfast time sees people arriving for work and the kids off to school. The school run takes on a different form with the older kids taking themselves off in their boats.

The village is home to the Hmong – a Laos Highland Minority Group. One young lady came on board to show off her traditional form of dress before accompanying us on a walk around the village, including its school for the younger children.

Heading back to our ship we were about to start the final stage of our expedition, but not before passing through the lock of the Xayaburi Dam.

Another early start and we are in the Laos Lowland village of Pan Pak Leab. Along with the different scenery there is clearly greater prosperity in the lowland region.

Penultimate stop before reaching Vientiane is the village of Houayla which has a tradition of building boats. It also has a lot of kids who gave us an enthusiastic welcome.

Last stop before Vientiane is the Laos – Thai border town of Xanakham and a short after breakfast walk prior to a full day’s sailing.

Finally we arrive in Vientiane and after dinner take a Tuk-Tuk trip to its bustling night market.

Last full day on board and we’re off to tour Vientiane. The Presidential Palace – former seat of the French Governor; Wat Phra Keo – formerly a temple and now a museum, the beautiful Wat Si Saket with its cloistered courtyard; the huge Phrathat Luang Stupa and the Patouxai Monument.

Our expedition has come to an end. Pandaw has again impressed us, fully meeting and often exceeding our expecations. A beautiful ship with comfortable accommodation. A surfeit of delicious food. Stunning scenery interspersed with interesting and varied shore excursions. All this delivered in a professional yet relaxed and informal atmosphere by friendly crew who work together seamlessly to give their guests an outstandingly good experience.

Special mention is deserved for those crew members who accompany the shore excursions for their intuitive ability to know when a guest needs a little more assistance and to unobtrusively take the appropriate action.

A Pandaw Expedition is about new experiences, quality of service, making new friends and making memories that last a lifetime.

Steve Bousfield

Dec 2017


We travelled from Siem Riap to Saigon in mid November on the Tonle Pandaw and had the most wonderful trip. The excursions were varied and well thought out, providing an excellent overview of life in Cambodia. The crew were marvellous and we can’t speak too highly of the entire experience. We are looking forward to travelling with Pandaw again.

Best wishes to everyone involved.

Anne and George McKay

Dec 2017


Dear Sirs,

We have enjoyed a cruise from Mandalay to Yangon starting November 11, 2017.

I would like to express my sincerest thanks to the whole Crew working on the ship - they all did a fantastic job and I really felt so much at ease. all of your people took so good care of us and indulged us in an unparalleled manner, starting by offering refreshments when coming back from a Sightseeing tour, taking over our dirty shoes to clean them, offering every possible assistance and attitude.

Among all those fantastic people, there are two persons I would like to especially mention:

....Tun - who was the chef de rang and really had everything under control, he knew all the names, knew all the special wishes of the guests and made us feel as if we were the only ones that counted.
Aung Aung OO: who was the Purser and THE Person who knew everything, who had the ability to be wherever needed in an unparalleld discret manner. He really lead the whole team to a perfect standard. To us it seemed as if HE was the one that surveyed everything very discreetly! His performance simply was outstanding and we only can congratulate you to a Purser like this.

Let me tell you that, travelling since many years now through more than 80 countries in this world, this was one of my most awsome trips I ever made and I once again would like to thank all of you for this achievement.

Best regards
Silvia & Christian Jakob

Nov 2017


We have just returned from our latest Pandaw adventure aboard the RV Laos Pandaw. While we have taken two previous trips with Pandaw, this trip was so very special in so many ways.

The comfort of the ship was outstanding. The cabin was large and featured more than adequate storage. The bath was first-class all the way. We found the entire ship’s crew to be delightful. All of the crew did a tremendous job making us feel welcome and always being there to assist us in any way they could, and always with a smile on their face. The chef did a tremendous job with each and every meal, every day delighting us with the selections. I will always remember our wait staff, and especially Khan, who loved preparing his specialty cocktail of the day, our Guide, Mr. Bee, who managed to deliver the Daily Briefing each day in such a way that we all looked forward to it, our Purser, Saroueng Em, who was always available to answer a question or offer an explanation, and especially Captain Houm Phan, whose love of the RV Laos Pandaw and sailing the Mekong was evident every day.

Arlene Wilbers cruising Laos to China on a Pandaw River Cruise

This trip only leaves one with a question - “Which Pandaw trip shall we take next?” Thank you for providing us the opportunity to enjoy two tremendous weeks aboard the RV Laos Pandaw and the wonderful memories we have. It has been an honour to sail with Pandaw!

Arlene Wilbers

Nov 2017


We really enjoyed our trip with Pandaw. We felt pampered by the staff on board the Angkor Pandaw. The guides were excellent, and knowledgeable about all of the sites that we visited. Everyone was prepared to do that little bit extra that makes a trip so special. We both enjoyed going to all of the small villages and seeing everyday life in the countryside, the way it still is today. Halong Bay was spectacular and it was especially good to be there for two sunsets and two sunrises (100's of photos). Although we had visited Hanoi about 9 years ago, it was a real treat to go to the Old Quarter through the narrow alleys and to the old markets this time. The water puppets and the Lion Dance were also special treats.

James and Hilary Alton aboard the RV Angkor Pandaw on Pandaw's Halong Bay and the Red River cruise

Thank you Pandaw for a wonderful trip.

Hillary and Jim Alton
Dundas, Ontario, Canada

Nov 2017


First, I would like to say how much we appreciated our week on the Orient Pandaw! A wonderful experience I will recommend to all our friends! Thank you also for having given us cabin 302, a marvellous place to stay. Thank you again for the high quality of all your staff: polite, efficient and smiling. Everything was perfect, nothing bad to say.

Now, we are looking ahead for our excursion on the Andaman Explorer, November 12-19.

Nov 2017



We have just completed the 7-night Bagan to Mandalay Cruise - what a wonderful wonderful pampered experience.

The boat (RV Indochina Pandaw) was beautifully appointed. All the crew were most caring, courteous and obliging, shore excursions were led by a most informative guide, and all the meals were A La Carte, delicious and beautifully presented.

We are planning another cruise in about 12 months.

Nov 2017


Please allow us to congratulate your crew and vessel (Pandaw 2) for a wonderful experience along the Ayeryarwady recently. We travelled from Yangon to Mandalay and loved everything about this trip. We especially enjoyed the opportunity of visiting the non-touristy villages along the way. We commented on many occasions on how happy the villagers seemed with a very primitive housing situation, but were well fed with an amazing variety of food types. We have completely forgotten how to create our own happiness without all the trimmings we have come to expect in our life-styles. It was good to have this reminder.

The vessel was extremely shipshape (I am ex Navy, so can appreciate the crew’s pride of workplace in a marine environment). Food was varied and a good daily choice offered. No-one got sick and everyone loved what was served up. Our waistlines can attest to the quality and quantity consumed. Interaction with the crew was encouraged and they were all keen to make our trip special.

Our only issue was the efficiency of the plumbing system, but if you try long enough, it works...sort of!

Good on you for ensuring your father’s legacy stays in operation during this very bad time in Myanmar’s history. I hope the press will sort out their biases soon so the country can enjoy tourism again without the fears raised by people with only second hand experience.

Kind Regards
Roy & Margie Justice

Nov 2017


My husband and I have just returned from the Irrawaddy cruise, Yangon to Mandalay, aboard RV Pandaw II. We have been fortunate enough to do a number of river cruises and this cruise was up there with the best.

The crew on Pandaw II were easily the best we have encountered on any cruise. All crew, from Captain, Purser, dining staff, housekeeping to the sailors, were friendly, well mannered, attentive and had the biggest smiles on “their dials”. Nothing was too much trouble. We were impressed with the way they all assisted each other and we enjoyed having them accompany us on the shore excursions. As all crew were excellent; we are loathe to name individuals, but would like to make special mention of Tun, the dining room manager. He is exceptional with his customer service, his anticipation of passenger requirements and his concern for all passengers with a never ceasing smile. He obviously sets the standard for the other crew under his supervison, showing his excellent leadership qualities.

The food on the cruise was excellent, with something for all tastes. Thank you to chef and his staff.

Robert and Rosemary Matheson on The Irrawaddy river curise in Burma (Myanmar)

Other than the staff on Pandaw II, the other highlight of this cruise was the beautiful Burmese people, especially those in the small villages. It was so nice to walk around these villages to see all the smiles on the faces of the locals, especially the children. They are unspoilt by tourism and we applaud Pandaw for requesting passengers not to hand out gifts or lollies to the children. We felt like pied pipers in these villages, with all the children following us but expecting nothing from us.

Patrick, our guide, was excellent with great knowledge and sense of humour.

Thank you to all crew for making our holiday so special.

Nov 2017


I have recently returned from a trip on the Mekong in Laos aboard the RV Champa Pandaw, disembarked 2 November. This was my 5th river cruise with Pandaw and I wasn't disappointed.The crew were wonderful, as usual, the food was delicious and it was a lovely trip. I want to make special mention of Vieng, who was our guide on-board. His knowledge was outstanding and his English amazing. He understood the strange English humour perfectly.

Penelope Cooke on-board the RV Champa Pandaw river cruise ship on the Laos Mekong river cruise

A wonderful holiday, thank you
Penelope Cooke

Nov 2017


The Red River - Up Close and Personal

On Angkor Pandaw we have been,
And wondrous sights we all have seen.
This trip has been a special one,
We've made new friends and had such fun.

We ventured out each day by bus,
With Duoc and Vu in charge of us.
The sights of working life to see,
We drank rice wine and hot green tea.

A shopping game then Duoc us set,
He challenged us, just for a bet.
A list of items we must seek
But only Vietnamese to speak!

A strange assortment we did buy.
What's this said Duoc with startled cry!
A purple fruit held in his fist,
"Most certainly not on the list"!

In Viet Tri town they make a hat
A conical one, where people sat
And showed us how they made them all.
With tiny hands which were so small.

We also watched a dance display.
They dragged Shaun in, to his dismay!
Then all held hands and danced around
Then he was pulled down to the ground!

In Ba Trang town we walked for miles,
And saw ceramics in huge piles.
We also watched a Lion dance
Where some men drummed and others pranced.

A water puppet show we saw
With noisy music and folklore.
A cake factory was also seen
We tasted some, I wasn't keen.

Each evening Dang prepared for us
A special cocktail with no fuss.
In James Bond style he shook not stirred
Which is the way we all preferred.

A gong was rung before we ate
To make quite sure no one was late!
Each meal we had deserved a star.
Chef Hung with Stein was on a par.

With Toan in charge of housekeeping
He oversaw our cabin cleaning.
The beds are made most carefully,
And left pristine for us to see.

For 10 days we've cruised many miles,
And seen this land with endless smiles.
The people have enchanted us,
Xin Chao we practiced on the bus.

We'll all miss Vu's endearing way
Of saying ESCURSION every day!
At all his jokes, we laughed a lot
Some were good and some were not!

A clap of hands must surely go
To the man in charge - our Captain Do
He's steered us all on this great trip
We felt so safe on our small ship.

This sadly is our final day,
Now we are here in Halong Bay.
Please raise your glasses and all say
To this great crew. "Hip Hip Hooray"!

Lucy Allison

Lucy Allison on Vietnam's Red River and Halong Bay river cruise 1
Lucy Allison on Vietnam's Red River and Halong Bay river cruise 2
Lucy Allison on Vietnam's Red River and Halong Bay river cruise 3

Nov 2017


Just want to comment on my cruise with your Company 21st to 28th of October. I found the whole cruise was excellent and beyond my expectations. One must say that each crew member worked in harmony making everyone feel welcome. The presentation in the catering end was superb and delicious with great menu choices. The bedroom accommodation was comfortable and amenities fine. My friend and I enjoyed the pool table and of course the happy hours daily. The choice of excursions were interesting and timed just right. The one with the children learning English in the classroom was particularly enjoyable.

Special mention of Mr Brian Woolley, your Food and Beverage Manager who was excellent chatting with all of us at various times throughout the cruise.

Ron Chisholm

Nov 2017


To Jimmy, Purser, RV Kindat Pandaw

Having just arrived home from Myanmar, I wanted to again thank you for having organised such a wonderful 10 days for our voyage from Bagan to Mandalay via the 2nd Defile. There were so many details that you had to deal with each day yet you always managed a smile on you face! For me, my third voyage with Pandaw was by far the best and most enjoyable and I appreciate how much you contributed to this.

Keep well and best wishes. I hope our paths may cross again one of these days.


Oct 2017


Your ship is beautiful and your personnel excel in service and food standards equalling any of the experiences we have had on other Pandaw trips. This is very much a company strength. Stuart Hickman did an excellent job helping smooth the rough edges on this maiden voyage. His food knowledge and skill is truly exceptional. The food on this voyage surpassed others (which have been very good in every case). He promptly addressed many issues and was working everywhere behind the scene training the crew and watching out for us passengers. Maung Maung Hein Tun did an excellent job as local guide and had the skills and work ethic to always assist the crew and the passengers. His English was very adequate, knowledge extensive and he worked hard. You need to hire this guy or someone like him. He was invaluable. Mai & Pai Pai both did an absolutely superb job. We had been with them both on the RV Pandaw Kalay two weeks earlier and know they are two of the best. We were extremely happy with them both. Pai Pai was simply a superior chef and his dishes were fantastic. We do hope he receives a permanent promotion. Note: Pastry Chef (Ney on?) seems also very promising but we had less exposure to him. Paing Soe Thu was a very responsive purser. We had a number of small issues related to cabin, etc. and he seemed to be everywhere helping with on shore excursions, dining area, everywhere. Hard working great representative for your company. The ship’s crew and officers were all very friendly and fun to spend time with. A great crew.

Points needing attention: While life aboard ship essentially met our Pandaw expectations, leaving the ship presented some problems. The gangway needs to have a longer platform at the bottom with bumpers to allow the tenders to tie up parallel to the platform and guests easily step back and forth. You might do better with open Zodiacs. There was very little value in having “Ronald”, the guide from Yangon accompany us. Ronald had very little to offer regarding local information while Hein Tun was a wealth of information. All cabins should be supplied with at least one portable fan. You might consider adding some local flavor activities that come to the ship. The local squid fishing fleet was fascinating. Perhaps bringing a squid boat alongside the Andaman Explorer for an up-close view and photo opportunity might be an example of one such activity.

Again, please don’t take this correspondence as complaints. We did not sign up for a maiden voyage expecting perfection but rather the unique opportunity to participate in a new adventure. We fully expected there would be some glitches and learning involved. My message is only intended as constructive criticism which I hope can benefit you in making a great travel company even better. Thanks again Pandaw for all the adventures you have taken us on!

Nov 2017


Dear Paul. I have recently returned from a trip to Myanmar and have had such a wonderful holiday that I wanted to email you directly to thank you.

We flew from Heathrow to Yangon and were met by our guide Harry. We were in fact the only passengers in the party and Harry gave us a totally personalised tour of the city. He was the perfect guide: polite, respectful, considerate, knowledgeable. In fact I cannot praise him enough. The hotel Sule Shangri La in Yangon was of an exceptionally high standard and the staff fell over themselves to make our stay special.

Lynda Brown on the Mandalay to Pagan river cruise in Burma (Myanmar).

Harry escorted us to Bagan and onto our boat to spend 7 nights on the RV Kalaw Pandaw to Mandalay. Again we met the most professional of staff who went absolutely out of their way to take care of our every need. I have never met such happy, contented, delightful people in all my many many years of travelling all over the globe. I would particularly like to mention our Purser Myo Naing. He is doing such a brilliant job of leading his team on the boat and knows absolutely everything that is carried out by each member of staff. His efficiency is equally matched by his constantly smiley face and thoroughly obliging manner. The food and service on the boat was outstanding. So too the entertainment on board and all the trips we took. I loved the way all the staff lined up to see us safely off the boat and were there to greet us so warmly when we returned. The utmost care was taken to ensure our safety during each outing. Whenever we held out a hand to steady ourselves there was someone there immediately to hold it, along with a smiling face of reassurance. Our stay at the Inle Lake in the Sanctum Spa hotel was equally incredible and our guide was superb. Again highly professional, thoroughly attentive and great fun to be with. At the end of the cruise we were flown back to Yangon and to the Sule Snangri La Hotel, from where we flew back to Heathrow. I absolutely loved my holiday on your beautiful colonial boat and thank you once again for the incredible attention to detail you have paid to my entire Burmese experience.

Kind Regards,
Lynda Brown,
United Kingdom

Oct 2017


I have just returned from a fabulous holiday on the Kalaw Pandaw Irrawaddy Cruise in Myanmar through the Just You Holiday Company. It was wonderful. The ship was so well run, clean and beautiful. The staff excelled in being helpful. They knew our names within a day, and remembered what we liked to drink and order for breakfast. When getting off and on the boat, they were there to put out a helping hand when the surrounding area was uneven, they always did this with good cheer. The service was overwhelming. The cabin staff were quick and thorough, the bar staff cheerful and ever ready. Shoes taken off on boarding were cleaned and returned to cabin quickly. Every single one of the crew was superb. Even when there was a huge storm and dining outside became impossible they quickly moved us into the bar area within minimum inconvenience.

They even gave us a round of applause and a song and dance at the end of the cruise. I among some other travelling companions were tearful when the cruise was ended. Thank you so much for a memorable holiday.

Best Regards.

Oct 2017


We have just returned from six weeks in India, part of which included a trip to Bhutan and the Brahmaputra River cruise, another great trip.

I think this is our 5th Pandaw cruise and we have enjoyed every one of them and starting to run out of river cruises to do.

We will watch out for anymore you do and put them on our bucket list to do in the future.


Oct 2017


Just want to say "Thanks for another great cruise/holiday with the Pandaw Family". Have done an Irrawaddy Cruise - September 2015 and now have experienced another great holiday on the Red River - Ha Long Bay.

Both cruises had differences and could not fault this cruise that we have just experienced. I went with my family and friends and they have never done a Pandaw cruise and it met their expectations too.

Just speaking for myself and Martin (and the others, being their first Pandaw experience), that we do like Pandaw and their offshore excursions into villages where there are not many or any other tourists. Another thing Pandaw did was interactive excursions, where they gave you 20,000 Dong and five Vietnamese words and we as a group of six people had to go through the market and speak Viet and buy fruit and vegetables and not spend all the money and the least spent the better. What fun. We got bananas instead of garlic! We got the other items right. The Village people loved it too. Lots of laughing. Martin, Anita and Greg went push bike riding on one of the tours and we others walked into the village. Dang the Barman, was an inspiration to Pandaw as he made great cocktails, has a great sense of humour and his English improved enormously by the end of the cruise by interacting with the Pandaw Family. Even a beach cocktail party and dancing on the last night was great fun and made it hard to leave the Pandaw Family.

Narelle and Martin on the Red River and Halong Bay river cruise in Vietnam.

The crew family on Pandaw were delightful once again, especially Monerak, Chui and Tam our housekeeper - but all the Pandaw family were exceptional.

Look forward to doing another cruise with Pandaw. Maybe the Mergui Archipelago next time.

Narelle Richards

Nov 2017


Firstly congratulations to Captain Nguyen Duc Do and Purser Peter for a very well run cruise. There were 30 passengers on the RV Angkor Pandaw and all commented on the excellent presentation plus quality and taste of the food prepared by Hung and his team. I have cruised with Pandaw many times but the food served on this cruise was exceptional.

The itinerary was again well planned with interesting visits and experiences for all as we cruised down the Black, Red, Thai Binh & Kinh Thay Rivers. However I felt a commentary was partly needed whilst cruising by our guides Duoc and Vu, not just on land tours as most of us were confused about the rivers.

Julie Wheeler on board the RV Angkor Pandaw cruising the Red River and Halong Bay in Vietnam.

Highlights for me were:

  • Upcountry Hoa Binh visiting the beautiful cave Buddhist temple and cruising on the Hoa Binh power station reservoir with its fish traps and pleasure boats.
  • Mr Bing’s museum displayed over 3 stilt houses was a treasure trove and the upcountry Muong village set amongst rice fields with green tea and rice wine tasting.
  • Market visit where groups were given money to purchase 5 vegetables (only verbal pronunciation given by guide) - lots of fun!
  • On board lecture on the History of Vietnam - excellent!
  • At Tien Du village the elderly ladies weaving conical Vietnamese hats which are worn by all the villagers in the rice fields.
  • Many beautiful temples, such as C11th Thay Pagoda (heavenly Blessing) and C8th Tay Phuong Pagoda.
  • The cultural performances - especially the Lion dance & Water Puppet show to name the highlights.
  • Walks around the Old Quarter of Hanoi with a most welcome coffee stop in an unusual building.
  • The ever changing countryside whilst cruising - banana trees, crops, buffalos grazing, rice fields, small villages and barge life on the rivers (fishing and sand collecting).
  • Halong Bay with its picturesque large and small limestone islands and our fun activities of kayaking, walking around Viet Hai Village & into the National Park whilst ending the day with cocktails on an island.

Nov 2017


We were on the Pandaw cruise on the Irrawaddy at the beginning of October. We cannot imagine how our experience could be improved. The boat was comfortable and elegant, the catering and hospitality exemplary and all the staff absolutely wonderful.

Marian Cullwick and Catherine MacDonald on-board the RV Kalaw Pandaw river cruise ship on the Mandalay Pagan Packet river cruise

Our only hesitation about booking another Pandaw cruise is that we can’t believe it could be as good !!!

Oct 2017


What a fantastic cruise! A terrific way to see the sights of Myanmar and meet some really wonderful people.

The staff were so helpful they couldn’t do enough for you; the food was fantastic and the whole experience felt like stepping back in time when the value of personalised service was understood.

Putting on the special shore based event for Festival of light and allowing some of the local children to join in was just magical…. a memory to last forever. Then the farewell night was a real climax to the week.

Photo shows Group with our Guide (Ronald) on the last evening

Well done Pandaw Cruises you have something very, very special and we hope that you will go from strength to strength.

Kind regards
David and Liz Fothergill

Oct 2017


I am a repeat Pandaw customer and was expecting high quality but this 7-night cruise on the Irrawaddy exceeded my expectations. Food, tours, guide, staff friendliness and kindness - all were just amazing. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff and the sight-seeing was just fantastic. We saw villages and temples and markets and schools. We embarked in Bagan and spent 7 nights on the river, disembarking in Mandalay. To a woman and man (there were just 17 of us, with 21 staff!!) we were sad to leave the ship - we had all enjoyed ourselves so very much. Special mention of the ship's purser, who made sure everything ran smoothly, from beginning to end - Myo Naing - a champion !!! If you do just one Asian river cruise, make it Pandaw on the Irrawaddy. Myanmar is a beautiful country with gentle, kind and sweet people.

Kind regards,
Megan Rowe

Oct 2017


We just wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ to you and your crew for giving us a fantastic trip on RV Kathaw Pandaw from Friday 29th September to Sunday 1st October.

Best wishes
Stephen and Caroline Perry

Oct 2017


Without a doubt, the highlight of my recent trip to Myanmar was the 7 night Mandalay to Pagan cruise on RV Kalaw Pandaw. An unforgettable experience. This cruise was an excellent way to see the highlights of Myanmar and I particularly enjoyed our tours around the many different temples around Pagan with our tour guide, Ko Brian, whose talks both ashore and on board were most interesting and informative.

I was travelling with a friend (mature travellers) and we were given the utmost care and attention by the crew both on board and on shore excursions. The chefs on board provided us with delicious meals (and pastries!) and I thank them for the special celebration cake they made for me during the cruise. The dining staff, Ko Salai Chit Tin and Ko Aung Kyaw Min were most attentive while we were on the upper deck.

All the crew were courteous, kind and helpful on board and when we were ashore during excursions. A particular thank you, however, to Purser, Ko Myo Naing; nothing was too difficult for him to arrange. And to U Naing Naing Win, who took great care of us during our excursions ashore and was always ready with a cool towel at the end of each outing. Please pass on my thanks to all the crew on RV Kalaw Pandaw and I hope to see them again one day on the Ayeyarwady River.

Jane, Canberra

Oct 2017


Myanmar’s smiles can’t be suppressed, a lasting memory I will have from my first (and not last) trip to Myanmar is of an aching face at the end of the day – from smiling! The trip on the RV Kalaw from Bagan to Mandalay was everything I had dreamt it would be. The crew were exceptional, every one of them from the sailors who cleaned our shoes and helped us disembark and embark, the staff who manned the bar and served at the tables who were also ready with the Myanmar smile and a joke. A special thank you to Myo Naing the purser who went out of his way to make sure everyone had a wonderful holiday. Myo and three other crew took me and another passenger to their favorite tea house one afternoon, a great experience.

It was my birthday on board and I truly appreciated the cake, the entire crew singing happy birthday to me and my special present; it will be treasured always. Only negative I can think of was the 10-minute trip to a silk “factory” followed by over an hour in the retail outlet. In the factory there were 14 – 16 year girls working from 8am till 9pm five to six days a week. Our guide Brian was asked how old the girls were and he said 24. I did not believe this and asked through another crew member who questioned a girl and was told 14 – 16 years old. I understand that children often support families and this is a necessity in some countries, but I also understand that the silk industry is controlled by the “generals” and being forced to spend over an hour in a shop making purchases was unnecessary I thought. Perhaps we could have spent time in a local market as is done on other trips. The trips to the local pottery making village, lacquer-ware workshop and silver workshop were fine, although a lot of the silver jewellery in the shop was Indian not Burmese.

I was told that Pandaw cruises can be habit forming and I can understand why, I know I will be back. Your staff make the cruise so special, but then again so do all the Burmese people I had the opportunity to meet.


Oct 2017


I am writing to thank you all for making my recent cruise from Luang Prabang to Jinghong such an enjoyable and memorable experience.

As you know this was not my first Pandaw cruise and I loved it as usual. All the wonderful features that make a Pandaw cruise so special were well and truly in evidence while I was with you. The great food, the impeccable service from the bar and dining staff, the skillful abilities of the young sailors at clearing a path for us through the jungle followed by their supporting hands as we climbed up the often slippery and steep riverbanks was very much appreciated by all of us. The quality of the food is such that I never have to worry about stomach problems. Most of all the Pandaw ambience is so unique.

It was a pity that you had to leave us Saroeung. Bee did a great job but you were still missed. However, Brian said that you would soon be back.

What a fantastic river the Mekong is! Despite what I’d read about it, I was still amazed at the speed, the water level, the steepness of the mountains rising directly out of the river, the noise and turmoil we saw and felt was incredible. Captain Houmphanh you did a terrific job, even providing us with excitement along the way when we ran into the jungle one night. It was a true expedition.

We are all looking forward to hearing from Somphet about that little boy who had the sight problem. It will be great if we can help him.

As always, I’ve been very restless since I returned home, so much so that I’ve booked another cruise in Burma for a week next month!

So thanks again to you and all those friendly, smiling, professional people who make up the crew of Laos Pandaw.

Oct 2017


Last year I travelled on the Ayerawaddy (Irrawaddy) River in Myanmar on the Princess Panhwar. A very high bar was set on this trip by the vessel and her crew. I felt at the time it could not be matched let alone be exceeded. Well it turned out I was wrong !!

The RV Khabyoo Pandaw and the Chindwin River.

All my expectations of this cruise were filled to the highest degree by this ship and it’s ‘magnificent’ crew ( All of them). The food was of the highest order there was no way that you could complain about it. Hats off to two brilliant chefs. The entertainment other than the Shan Traditional Dancing Group which were a joy to behold was great ! Kuong The (if my spelling is correct) and Ronald our Guide on a couple of nights entertained us with impromptu performances on guitar and singing really beautiful Burmese songs. So idyllic, on the river at night, a beautiful breeze blowing off the river and listening to them. "Unforgettable". Their range of complimentary drinks is so good, plus endless tea, coffee and soft drinks, biscuits and Burmese confectionary. What more could you ask for.

I was upgraded from Main Deck to Upper Deck which I appreciated very much. The cabin was luxurious in all ways. Teak and Brass everywhere and such a comfortable bed and pillows.

It is such a beautiful river to cruise on, the upper reaches we traversed had mountains which were heavily forested, such a fast flowing river when you compare it with the Irrawaddy and whirlpools abound. Lovely little villages and towns.

The Burmese people though poor, always smile at you and when you greet them with Min-ga-la-ba return the compliment.

We visited two schools, the children sang for us beautifully and they and their teachers were very enthusiastic with the presents (books, pens, rulers, erasers etc..) that we gave them. I presented authentic Aboriginal Boomerangs to the Principals of both schools and through the Guide Ronald interpreting, explained how they were used for hunting. Unfortunately, on both occasions there was not enough room for me to demonstrate how to throw them.

I must add that there were only 10 passengers aboard the vessel which can carry 20 passengers. I think we were spoiled rotten!!

I can highly recommend the Pandaw Company if its ships, crews and voyages are anything like I experienced. I would have no hesitation travelling with this Company again. They are surely the greatest in what they offer!

Peter Covington - Thomas

Sep 2017


Dear Pandaw Colleagues

We had an incredible time cruising to Nagaland last week. Thank you all so much. We will always cherish the memories of our week together. The crew was superb. Food and wine excellent and everybody was so accommodating, flexible and helpful.

We have just booked our next Pandaw on the Upper Irrawaddy from December 18-25th. So looking forward to the next cruise with you.

Thank you so much. Here are a couple of photos that I promised to send through.

Wishing you all the best,
Nadia & Stuart

Sep 2017


We have just returned from the most wonderful upstream Saigon to Siem Reap cruise on RV Mekong Pandaw. The experience was beyond all our expectations and dreams. The crew were fantastic and they felt like good friends. The meals were superb. In fact we cannot find any fault at all.

We cannot wait for another Pandaw experience.

Chrisand John Speight

Sep 2017


Dear Din Sotha, Vong Sokhom and all the crew of RV Mekong Pandaw,

My daughter Wendy Purba and I have just completed the Classic Mekong cruise from Saigon to Siem Reap. This was my third cruise with Pandaw but Wendy's first. I want to thank you for making this such an enjoyable experience for us with the usual friendly, professional, conscientious thoughtful attention to the needs of guests that I have come to expect from Pandaw. Their honesty is something I take for granted. As always, nothing was a trouble. I am now missing my early morning cup of tea brought to my cabin by Marady, and I forgive Sophorn for his remarks about grandmas. Hamnes, I will miss you, too, when I have to look after my house in Canberra. We had so much fun and lots of laughs.

Guests can always feel safe in the hands of Pandaw Captains and their crews. From years of experience they know the rivers very well.

The food was great, as always, and I'm sure everyone appreciated the efforts of the galley staff to satisfy individual requirements. Wendy loves Asian food and was delighted with the menu. She has now returned to her husband and daughter after an amazing week. I will fly to Luang Prabang on Tuesday to join the Laos/China cruise departing Thursday. I'm sure it will be another wonderful, remote Pandaw experience. I am already thinking about my next Pandaw cruise/s in Burma in 2018 if my health and finances will allow.

We were both so sad to say goodbye. I know you meet thousands of people each year but I hope you will not forget us too soon.

Sokhom, I'm sure you will have a long and happy career as a Pandaw Purser. They are such terrific people. Good luck.

Thank you again,

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Sewell

Aug 2017


We had a fantastic trip from Siem Reap to Saigon. Not only interesting but also wonderful to visit local villages and get a glimpse of real life of Cambodian and Vietnamese people. We particularly liked that Pandaw shares the tourism wealth with these small communities.

Margaret Kay and Michael Smart on The Classic Mekong River Cruise

The ship was extremely comfortable and staff attentive and gorgeous. My only suggestion is that you provide a map showing the route of the cruise and the stops made. An espresso coffee machine would also be welcome!

Jul 2017


The cruise was above our expectations and we wished that we were on a longer cruise. We had only booked as far as Phnom Penh because we had already been to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat twice. However, we look forward to doing a future Pandaw cruise on a different river. The boat was very comfortable, we liked its old style with plenty of wood fittings, the crew were very helpful and attentive, the food was excellent and the included shore excursions were very interesting.

Jul 2017


The trip was fantastic - I loved it. What a nice way to travel. The boat was lovely and the crew could not have been nicer nor more helpful. You have a great bunch working for you.

Aug 2017


Well it's been a couple of weeks since the end of our trip (Halong Bay Red River) our third with the Pandaw fleet. It is a great feeling of familiarity when boarding the boats and to see the smiling crew. This being our first trip to northern & central Vietnam (our last time in South Vietnam 2009), the industrial side of this trip quite different but still with the out of the way & local experiences Pandaw provides. I found the push bikes on board a great idea and were of a good standard for the riding we did. Our Captain and crew did a fantastic job in some trying conditions, Halong Bay was stunning to see (pity about the water quality around the islands, but that’s out of Pandaw’s control).

Trevor & Gail Harvey onboard the RV Angkor on Vietnam's Halong Bay & the Red River cruise

I don't usually mention one particular staff member as all Pandaw’s people work hard to please their guests but there was one who was going above and beyond (always with a smile) our assistant Purser "Pah", (always good but "very good" in a crisis). As a retired business owner, he would be a "key" staff member. There was some disharmony in the kitchen, which reflected in some of the food served. I'd like to thank the staff for looking after my wife who was unable to do some shore excursions, this did not affect her enjoying this trip at all.

Yours Sincerely & Happy Pandaw Travellers
Trevor & Gail Harvey

Jul 2017


Just wanted to let you know that once again I had an excellent cruise with Pandaw. The ship was lovely as were the meals. The crew were all very professional and, at the same time, felt like friends. I also would like to thank Pandaw for the wine package which I enjoyed.

The guides were very knowledgeable and helpful, particularly Bunna (Cambodian) who went to a great deal of trouble to assist a woman whose husband became ill on the cruise. The hotels in both Saigon and Siem Reap were very special and my guide in Siem Reap was excellent also.

Thank you for your assistance it was very much appreciated. I hope to participate in another Pandaw expedition before too long.

Best wishes
Diana Welsby

Jul 2017


Well, what a trip – the Angkor Pandaw ship is a treat to travel on; from the fantastic limestone structures of Halong Bay to the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, there was always something wonderful to see or do. The decision of Pandaw to spend more time in Halong Bay than in the past is a big plus. The captain and his crew were great, helping us on and off the ship, up muddy and slippery banks which was very helpful - having cold water on hand on trips to meeting us back on board with cold towels and drinks.

The ship itself was fantastic, the teak timber and brass looks great. The rooms are big enough for a ten day trip with excellent air-con in both the rooms and the restaurant. As this was the first trip of the season, there were a few teething issues from the kitchen and restaurant, but overall the food was very good. Our two female stewards and barman were very good and attentive. The beer temperature could be two degrees colder, so you don’t have to drink it so quickly haha!

Tifo our guide was good at this job, Peter our Purser is good at his job too but needs to slow down when speaking when nervous. Some suggestions for future trips – if a spare room upstairs was not in use, it could be used as a bathroom during the day, as people with mobility issues don’t have to use the stairs, and one of the lounges could be used in the air-con restaurant. Overall, a very enjoyable cruise.

Jul 2017


Amazing holiday, we have been on a Pandaw cruise before and couldn't wait to book another one. The crew on board were wonderful, everyone from the captain to the deck crew. The boat was exceptional and so clean, housekeeping was fantastic, plenty to eat and well presented. Peter was wonderful, a bit quick at talking so his English was a bit hard to understand, but get him on a one to one and he could chat to you very well. Lovely man so helpful. Our guide was Ti Fo, wonderful person, so enthusiastic and passionate about his country and people. His love of his culture was very inspiring and he made us look forward to the next tour with anticipation. It was very hot and humid, but the crew members who came with us were well prepared with ice cold drinks and face cloths that had been in the freezer. They were very attentive and helped us on and off the boats, coaches, steps and gang planks. We can't thank them enough. Every member of the crew was always smiling and happy, that it felt like we were among friends rather than staff just doing their job.

We are now looking for our next cruise. We think of Pandaw as two holidays in one. The first, relaxing, calming, lazy if you want to and getting spoilt. The second, the anticipation of going to new places, meeting new people, seeing their country and culture. Ti Fo was excellent in getting us among his fellow countrymen and never got tired of answering our questions. His enthusiasm really rubbed off on us and made us wish the holiday would never end.

May 2017


Our afternoon excursion visited the Thay & Tay Phuong Pagoda and for the fit, a climb up the 237 steps to the Pagoda. The rest of us wandered through the village and met a delightful 95yo man, living alone and determined to show us his home and offer hospitality.

A barge had taken us to the river bank from our overnight mooring on a sandbar, and just as our bus got back to the river bank, down came the rain!! Members of the Crew appeared from seemingly nowhere with huge umbrellas so on to the barge, and back to our boat.

As we moved closer, we could hear music and then as we rounded the stern we were greeted by a huge bonfire and trails of lights set in the sand. Our wonderful crew were there to greet us with savouries and our "welcome home" drink of the day, "whiskey sour". The atmosphere was fantastic, the fire, the music, the dancing - what a welcome, and who cared about the rain.

The crew of RV Angkor Pandaw, are amazing and are to be congratulated. Each member of the happy crew is always cheerful and happy to help in any way - even remembering, after the first morning, which particular tea to offer an "early riser". With this wonderful care and attention to detail, the comfort of each guest is paramount. Please pass on my thanks to Peter and the fantastic RV Angkor Pandaw crew.

Halong Bay and the Red River cruise with Pandaw River Cruises

I'm attaching a photo, taken early this morning, of the view of Ha Long Bay.

Kind Regards
Meredith Wise

Apr 2017


I joined my 23-year old son Simon in Yangon who had been backpacking through Asia for six months and at the end of this we travelled together for two and a half weeks.

We went on the Pagan-Mandalay journey and we had an unforgettable time thanks to Pandaw! What a beautiful country Myanmar is, with its lovely, friendly people, the 'wealth' of its culture and the Buddhist philosophy. So photogenic.

The RV Kalaw Pandaw crew were amazing; very, very attentively caring and of course the amazing food on board: unforgettable! Thank you Kalaw crew!! Head of Food and Beverage Stuart Hickman told us that Simon was the youngest Pandaw guest this season.

Karel Zijlstra and son Simon on the Mandalay Pagan Packet, Burma river cruise

I have to say Simon enjoyed Myanmar intensely. I challenge parents to take their adult children on a Pandaw journey - a real educational treat!

Our guide Yan was so good, he explained so much about his culture.

After our Myanmar adventure, I had an exhibition with my sculptures in Dubai and the last five days of our journey we stayed in Dubai…the contrast couldn’t be bigger...

I hope to return to this wonderful country, and of course with Pandaw!


Click Here to view more photo's of Karel & Simon's Mandalay Pagan Packet river cruise in Burma

Click Here to watch Karel's Mandalay Pagan Packet river cruise in Burma video

Apr 2017



I just wanted to say how fantastic our journey was with Pandaw. We joined the ship on April 1st, and every moment was wonderful for the next 11 days. In particular, we were very impressed with your crew and guides - so professional, personable, and helpful. Tuan and Duoc were fantastic guides, offering insights into Vietnamese culture that were amazing and enlightening.

The excursions, the surprise treats, the variety of experience, and the comforts aboard were all ideal for us. When we needed something a bit out of the ordinary we knew we were in very good hands and trusted your crew and guides in every detail.

Thank you so much for your attention to every small thing. We have been recommending Pandaw to everyone, and hope to perhaps book another trip sometime.

With regards and thanks
Carolyn and Craig

Mar 2017


Just returned to the UK following an Amazing Experience with your Company, from Vietnam airlines from London to Ho Chi Minh - Siem Reap-Hanoi- back to London. I will retain a lasting memory of a fabulous holiday provided by Pandaw. Truly a very professional company.

Very difficult to explain in a few words the feelings that you come away with. Your team on the "RV Mekong Pandaw" looking after us on this river cruise were brilliant. Food Quality -Selection -Service/Organisation/Management in the restaurant, a Big First Class, always met with a smile. Massage room and lady very professional.

Cabin was well appointed, well maintained and comfortable; ability to open those cabin doors every morning watching a different world go past – Wow!! Need to have "done it" to get that feeling.

Tour Organisation excellent - the Tours from Viet Cong Tunnels, to Khmer Rouge Regime Killing Fields. Standing in those Memorial sites you feel the horrors that one set of humans can inflict on others.

You can only sample the culture with visits to temples and palaces, having good fun on the roads with your own private Cyclo tour around Phnom Penh. Crossing the roads was a challenge; bikes, hundreds of motor cycles and at traffic lights was like the starting grid at a race meeting but we managed ok.

The People in the river bank homes, floating villages, fish farms, markets were working day-to-day looking after families, mini village communities and schools. Family unity is something we have lost a bit in the big Western world. The investment in villages and in the people that Pandaw make along the Mekong should be greatly highlighted in your brochures and websites.

Along with many of the new friends we have met on board, common points of conversation, lasting impression - how can you go home and try and explain this humble feeling? You have visited another set of people who compared to our way of life, have very basic accommodation, really work hard every day, with their children learning English for a few hours a day at school, all seem to be so content, smiling and made you so welcome in their world, when not so many years ago there were terrible acts of savage war.

Memorable for me the evening 1st of March cocktail in the village with music and dance and lots of happy, smiling children - amazing.

You pay your money up front and choose your holiday but with Pandaw you not only get what you pay for but you get memories like never before.

Brilliant Thank You
Ron and Val Nash

Apr 2017


We have recently returned from an amazing holiday, the service we received was far and above what we expected. The cruise was excellent with staff who could not do enough for us, especially our purser Sokhom. We were very fortunate to also have on board Pandaw's executive chef so the food was an absolute treat, excellent cocktails at cocktail time and cabins were very comfortable, clean and airy.

Bill and Jean Adam on The Classic Mekong river cruise holiday.

We met lots of people and had enjoyable evenings on deck chatting with our new friends. The guides we had throughout our holiday were so good, so informative about their country and culture. We received a water blessing from the Buddhist monks - it was very moving and rather effective as the following morning the heavens opened! We left the boat to make our way to Seam Reap in a mighty thunderstorm but it all added to the fun of the holiday. Siem Reap was another wonderful experience - again with an excellent guide who was extremely knowledgeable and enjoyed taking photos of us!

Jun 2017


Although this response is somewhat delayed, I do want to comment on the river cruise my wife and I took from March 22 to 31, 2017 on board the RV Pandaw Indochina.

Put simply, our Pandaw cruise was excellent, 5 out of 5. I would recommend it highly as the best way to see the emerging Myanmar. It allows one to visit towns and villages along the Irrawaddy River, while engaging locals as they go about their daily lives. This is our third Pandaw cruise. However, the previous two were booked with Uniworld on Pandaw vessels in China and Vietnam/Cambodia. Their lead crew and staff were Westerners, whereas our Myanmar cruise booked directly with Pandaw was all Burmese, most notably the Purser, two superb tour guides, and the amazing chef. The result was an intimate insight into all things Burmese, including wonderful food and interesting lectures. Each of the locations we visited provided memorable experiences. Some highlights included the U Bein Bridge at sunset, numerous artisan workshops, the terracotta potteries in Yandabo, the temples and stupas of Bagan, the children at the Pandaw supported school in Myan Aung, and the colourful markets in several towns.

Pandaw began in Burma and appears to have a positive reputation throughout the country. Our cruise was the last one of the season. We only had 31 passengers on board most of whom were from Australia, a few from the UK, one American couple and ourselves as the only Canadians. We've sang the praises of Myanmar and Pandaw since returning home, so hopefully more Canadians will choose to visit this amazing land in the future.

Jerry and Susan on the Golden Land river cruise in Burma (Mynamar)

Congratulations to you, your staff and crew on a truly fabulous experience. Every good wish for success in the future.

Jerry Lampert

PS. We followed our river cruise with a two day visit to Inle Lake. It is a must see and do and was a relaxful way to end our visit to Myanmar.

Apr 2017


The world is an interesting place. Thank you Pandaw for showing us such fascinating parts of the world. Sometime we Americans think everyone lives and works as we do. In Vietnam, the people work hard and long. They seem happy and are very friendly. We were often invited to have tea with them. Villages often make one product. In the village of Vihn Phuc beautiful wood product from the bread fruit tree were made and a nearby one village metal products. The village was getting ready for a wedding. They usually have 100s of guests.

Halong Bay and The red River cruise, Vietnam

"Everyone smiles in the same language"

Apr 2017


Wendy Evans, dedicated Pandaw fan and traveler, has provided this outstanding account of her recent expedition on board RV Angkor Pandaw sailing the Red River and Halong Bay. Wendy has perfectly captured the many contrasts to be enjoyed along this route.


Mar 2017


My husband and I have never been on any type of cruise before but after experiencing a river cruise down the Mekong we are hooked! The boat itself was beautiful, all done in teak. The rooms were well appointed and comfortable. The most impressive part of the boat for me was the sundeck that took up the whole length of the deck. Teak loungers spread throughout with sitting areas of wicker furniture positioned in different areas. Massive canopies provided shade if needed. Nice bar area with any kind of drink to be had as well as tasty snacks. There was even a pool table if you felt like participating in a little activity. There was a nice balance of excursions and relaxation time. The food was very tasty, abundant and well presented.

The staff were very professional, helpful and very nice. We were always greeted with a beautiful smile. On our last evening on the boat we were treated to a show of music, song and dance as well as being introduced to all crew members. We had the opportunity to participate in a dance party with these wonderful hardworking people which is something my husband and I will never forget.

Well done Pandaw!!

Apr 2017


My husband and I recently returned home after cruising the Irrawaddy River on the RV Pandaw II, from March 7-22nd. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and your staff made us feel special.

We were especially impressed with the care the staff took to ensure that each guest was able to leave and return to the ship safely while navigating some difficult river banks. Several times, I counted up to 10 staff members ready to assist us. This was a remarkable difference to some of the other cruise lines who only had 2 or 3.

The addition of two extra staff members to assist the guide on our excursions was exceptional. We thought the service of cleaning our shoes and returning them to our cabins within an hour of our return was outstanding.

One evening, we had 4 staff members in our room at 10:30. The Purser, Guide, Head of Housekeeping and our Cabin Attendant took the sink apart in order to help us locate two gems stones which had broken from a ring.

These were just a few of the little differences that set Pandaw apart from the other cruise lines. In summation, I would like to say that Pandaw Cruise Line, has raised the bar for future cruises my husband and I may take. We have recommended Pandaw Cruise Line to our friends.

Sue and Dave Garskey

Apr 2017


This was my third Pandaw cruise so you could say that I am a fan! The staff are all exceptional and the whole trip is so well organised and the food is simply wonderful, such a relaxing trip. Having travelled with Pandaw it has really spoilt me for anything else so I will be hoping for trip number 4 before too long.

Isobel Dexter

Mar 2017


Alice Birrell - The Upper Irrawaddy River Cruise

I am writing to thank you so much for the trip on the Upper Irrawaddy. It was so enjoyable and I can't praise everyone involved enough. I have a foot problem and all the young men helped me every time I went ashore. They did everything imaginable to make it a wonderful cruise.

The food was outstanding and so beautifully presented; we enjoyed a Bang Bang salad demonstration and then the carving, the chef is very talented. I am attaching a photo of him with his work.

As for Ko (Dominic), he was the most patient man, it must be his Buddhist Teaching. Ko was so knowledgeable and helpful.

Again, my grateful thanks to you and all your staff.

Alice Birrell

Apr 2017



Mingalabar! Good morning!

I was lucky enough to win a Pandaw cruise in association with CLIA back in January so booked to travel with my partner Chloe, staying on board the RV Orient Pandaw (Mandalay – Bagan).

I have just arrived back to the UK after an amazing time away in Myanmar. Wow! What a country! But more importantly wow what an experience with Pandaw. Thank you so much for the opportunity to join the cruise to see the beautiful Irrawaddy river!

We joined the cruise in Mandalay on the 4th March after our flight from the UK via Bangkok. After a warm welcome by all the team on board we were excited to see what the week would bring. And what a week! From the hustle and bustle of Mandalay to the Temples in Bagan we were treated like royalty throughout our time on the cruise.

Marcus Williams on the Mandalay Pagan Packet river cruise in Burma

The food was out of this world! Considering just how small the galley kitchen is, the chefs and the dining team did a brilliant job of wowing us all with the local delights! The Burmese cusiine was to die for! Amazing fish soups, curries and salads; we were never left hungry! Not to mention there was always a friendly face to offer us a beer, gin and tonic or a lemonade to keep the heat at bay.

The boat was stunning – beautiful décor and very comfortable cabins ensured our stay was just as luxurious as the service we received from the Pandaw crew. We loved the sun deck in particular – there was always a free sun lounger to relax on whilst watching the world go by!

I loved all of the excursions and the on board activities. It was great to share the Burmese way of life with the crew – I loved the 'dress like the Burmese' where they showed us the versatile Longyi! It provided laughs all around with the enthusiastic crew members giving us an impromptu fashion show! We also thoroughly enjoyed the cooking demonstration where we learned more about the local ingredients and flavours of Myanmar.

The best thing however had to be the staff on board the cruise. From the 1st engineer to the bar staff to the captain all staff were BRILLIANT! They are all shining gems and are all a fantastic asset to the Pandaw family! They provided first class service throughout and no request was too big or too small. For example, they bought me ginger tea when I was un well as well as repairing Chloe's sunglasses when they were broken. They each went above and beyond their call of duty to help us and all passengers onboard the RV Orient Pandaw. We loved their enthusiasm, warmth and friendliness. The 'beach party' was another example of when they all excelled as a team. We loved the beautiful set up of the beach chairs, bar and bonfire. It was a shame that the wind and rain whipped up and even caused the ship to drift and the gang plank to tumble into the river! They then worked as a team to resolve the issue and we ended up having an absolute blast! It was just sad to depart them a week later after such an enjoyable trip.

Marcus Williams on the Mandalay Pagan Packet river cruise in Myanmar, Asia

I have come back with fond memories of my time in Myanmar having had a fantastic time with Pandaw. You should be so pleased with the team on the RV Orient Pandaw as well as all other staff who work tirelessly on the other ships in your fleet. I just hope I can now turn my experience into growing sales for new clients.

So may I wish you a massive thank you but a huge well done to Pandaw and the team. I cannot thank you all enough!

Kind regards,

Marcus Williams
Travel Consultant

Apr 2017


A magical upstream expedition from Pagan to Mandalay on board the RV Kalaw Pandaw last month filmed by our guest Karel Zijlstra.


Mar 2017


What a wonderful experience! From start to finish this was a first-class trip in every way. The RV Mekong Pandaw is a wonderful river ship. The staff are superb as is the food and service. The cabins are well appointed and very comfortable as well as being kept spotlessly clean. The opportunity to visit remote villages, markets and temples and meet the locals was a real treat. Congratulations Pandaw on supporting so many charities along the way.

Susan Donaldson and David Perry Classic Mekong River Cruise Village

We boarded in Vietnam and cruised up river into Cambodia with many stops and excursions on the way. With only 48 passengers each excursion was easily and quickly executed, sometimes using sanpans to ferry us into smaller channels and other times by the crew jumping ship with shovels, creating 'steps' in the shoreside for disembarkation. Such a superb insight into real life for the river communities in both countries which form the majority of the rural population. The biggest bonus was - no mosquitos! We assumed wrongly that this could be a problem!

Susan Donaldson and David Perry Classic Mekong River Cruise Market

The Pandaw staff all seem to have a passion for their job and nothing is too much trouble for them. We can't wait for the next Pandaw experience, possibly Myanmar or Laos!

May 2017


Hi again,

Our third Pandaw expedition met the high expectations that had been set by our two previous journeys. In March 2017, we had the good fortune to explore Laos, a fascinating land with much beauty in its landscape and people. Highlights on this trip were wandering around Luang Prabang and meeting our Captain's father. The Laos Pandaw was a lovely boat and we were truly spoiled onboard! As in the past, my food restrictions and allergies were conscientiously addressed by the kitchen. Upon our return, we were met with the good news that more dates would be added to the expeditions in Laos...hurray!

The Laos Mekong river cruise with Pandaw River Cruises

Since we regularly visit the Pandaw website, we read Paul Strachan's article about the Chindwin. As a result, we are now booked in August 2017 for a trip up this river and a journey to Nagaland. We are so excited to anticipate this new adventure. Myanmar has captured our hearts and this will be our third trip to this "enchanted" land.

Thank you so much for another wonderful experience,
Solveig Lalla
Krishna Lalla & Lindsay Isaac-Lalla

Mar 2017


Trying to get a 5 photo flavour of this amazing trip, from my 600, was impossible! I can only say that it was a fantastic, informative, memorable and enjoyable adventure that I would recommend to anyone with an interest in history, culture and new experiences. Oh yes, in friendly, cared-for comfort as well!

Susan and David Burgess Classic Mekong river cruise

The guides, crew and boat were all excellent.

Thank you Pandaw.
Susan and David Burgess

Apr 2017


We completed our second Pandaw cruise in March. Our first was an excellent week on the Irrawaddy in Burma, our second another excellent week on the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia. Why go twice with Pandaw?

First of all, the experience clearly matches the reputation. Standards are high. Expectations are met. Experiences are excellent. We enjoyed the quality of the cabins, the meticulous organisation and attention to detail that ensured travellers needs are addressed, whatever their requirements and preferences (shoe cleaning anyone!). The food arrangements and quality could not be questioned, with plentiful alternatives for all appetites. Then there are the staff. Friendly, helpful, reliable and astonishingly hard working. They also smile and laugh, willingly and easily. You feel welcome and are welcome. This is teamwork of the highest order with unobtrusive but thoughtful and purposeful management.

Malcolm and Cath Lister on The Classic Mekong river cruise

Any suggestions for improvement? Not really. Why go with Pandaw twice? Why not go three times?

Thank you
Malcolm and Cath Lister

Mar 2017


Following our fantastic cruise on the Irrawaddy we want to complement you on founding and developing such a wonderful cruise operation.

We experienced a beautiful ship and an excellent crew who happily looked after our every need. We could not fault the service with all devoted to providing us with the best experience aboard as well as on shore with the great village expeditions. As mentioned all crew were great but we would also like to especially mention a young trainee onboard, Qosai Wai Yan Po, who was marvellous and we believe has great potential. He particularly helped Nola with her mobility problems ashore.

I had the pleasure of a birthday whilst onboard, with the crew presenting a special cake and a copy of The Pandaw Story which I am in the process of reading and take my hat off to you for tackling the enormous challenge of forming the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company and now such successful Pandaw Expeditions.

John and Nola Davies on the Pandaw Mandalay Pagan Packet river cruise.

We have and will continue to pass on our recommendations for Pandaw.

Best Regards
John and Nola Davies

Mar 2017


My wife and I were on the 16 February 2017 Red River Cruise from Halong Bay up to and past Hanoi. It was a delight. The cruise itinerary was extremely well designed. The places visited were very interesting with mostly no foreign tourists. The ship, RV Angkor Pandaw, was exceptional, it was what traveling by river steamer in 1930's must have been like and you wouldn't have been surprised to see Graham Greene, or Noel Coward having a drink in the lounge. I only wish there were more cruise lines like Pandaw. The cabins were well designed, very comfortable and with wood panelling.

The crew were 10 out of 10, and the food again 10 out of 10, as my waist line can unfortunately testify too. The two guides, Tifo and Tuan, were 11 out of 10. They had great knowledge of the places and people we visited and the flow of that knowledge was timed to perfection. From them I learnt a lot about Vietnam and its people that no books or newspapers could provide. Please thank them from the both of us. I loved Vietnam and its people and could go on for hours lauding praise on the cruise, the staff and guides but it’s easier to say that "I can without doubt recommend this cruise to anyone contemplating it and we will do another in the near future."

Feb 2017


I just wanted to tell you what an incredible trip we just had on RV Pandaw 2, finishing in Mandalay/Sagaing on the 23rd Feb. I was part of a little group of three, among about 35 in total on Pandaw 2, all of us experiencing Myanmar for the first time. The crew and guides, under the excellent guardianship of Mr Aung Aung Oo were superb, "a class act" as we say here in Australia. Head of Food and Beverage, Stuart will know what a compliment that is.

The team took special care of my sister who is partially sighted and, for that, I am so grateful. Truly outstanding. Her needs were one of the reasons we chose this style of travel for Myanmar; she would never be able to come otherwise. She left feeling she'd had as great an adventure as everybody else. We chose Pandaw because you were recommended by a previous guest, and we'll be recommending you to others who want to visit Myanmar.

I must specifically compliment the crew and guides for their warm professionalism and openness. I watched the crew handle all the questions about life in Myanmar with insight and passion.

Usually a DIY traveller and a trekker, I haven't experienced a structured trip before and was unsure what it would be like. Actually, if I had to describe the trip, I'd say it's a breathtaking 'boat trek' rather than a cruise, to do justice to the lovely blend of stylish comforts, relaxed time on the river and visits to places none of us could experience by any other way, which is why you're Pandaw Expeditions!

A few standouts: the sunrises; the little villages and their amazing people; the food (wow!); and, I doubt anybody will forget the sight of Mr Peter, head barman, in a rowboat delivering cocktails and a huge smile to us all on the lake at Amarapura nor the party on the sandbank the next night.

Myanmar left footprints on our hearts. We'll be back.

Thank you to you all.
Kirsty Simmonds

Mar 2017


About our trip on RV Tonle Pandaw on the river Mekong on 11th to 18th of February 2017.

What is there to say, except that it was probably our best trip for many years! So quiet, so slow, so luxurious and at the same time so many things and people to discover!

RV Tonle Pandaw river cruise on the Mekong River

Just "Thank you", to share with your so very nice and competent crew.

Apr 2017


My husband and I have just returned from a wonderful 10 days on the Laos Pandaw. We were so well looked after by the very professional crew with great travelling companions (just 16 of us) from three countries. The scenery was magnificent, we marvelled at the skill of the Captain and First Officer as they steered the ship through the amazing waters of the Mekong. Each visit to a village was different and we learnt so much about Laos culture from our Purser, "Mr B". The sunsets over the river were spectacular.

Val Gribble on The Loas Mekong River Cruise

This was our second river cruise with Pandaw. We could not think of travelling with any other company if we want to continue to explore Asian and other river systems. The crew are so careful and helpful with ageing passengers (including us!) and we thank them all for their care and concern. This is a great way to relax and to learn. The ability and planning of the Pandaw ships to nudge into banks along the Mekong (and other rivers) to visit villages is a highlight. Where else could one experience a cocktail hour with barbeque snacks sitting on a sandbar! Our stops at larger towns and cities allowed us to see more of Laos culture. Thank you Pandaw for another memorable experience.

Val Gribble

Mar 2017


It was an extremely good experience. The staff on the boat, Mr. Bee and his team, were extremely helpful and efficient and any minor problems immediately sorted out. I was particularly indebted to the staff who helped me on and off the boat at each landing as I am awaiting a knee operation and found the steep, sandy slopes somewhat difficult. They were so kind and thoughtful.

It is my second experience of travelling with the Pandaw (first was Vietnam and Cambodia) and both trips have been excellent. I would always recommend them.

Yours sincerely,

Mar 2017


It was like a dream - great trip I had! Most of all our guides, Joe and Brown. They are so welcoming, kept us informed and always ready to answer our questions. The crew on board were always helpful.

Dimitra Gebhard - The Irrawaddy River Cruise

Am ready for another Pandaw Cruise.

Dimitra Gebhard

Mar 2017


The itinerary organised for me by PANDAW met my brief and excelled in so many ways. Having been met and given a half day tour of the main sights of Yangon followed by two days pre-cruise at Inle Lake, a seven day cruise from Bagan to Mandalay and a five day post-cruise to Hsipaw in the North Shan district with a day in Mandalay, each element in its own way contributed towards a memorable holiday which was both relaxing and rewarding.

The visit to Inle Lake was like a breath of fresh air, I didn't know what to expect but it certainly didn't disappoint and it set the tone for the rest of the holiday. The cruise up the Irrawaddy was like taking a step back in time to the colonial era, the ship was very well maintained and had a traditional comfortable aura about it and the crew seemed to be telepathic, knowing what you wanted before you had asked for it.

Peter Morgan Tailor Made Burma River Cruise

Being a retired seafarer myself, I found the whole cruise fascinating, as were the places visited. Finally, my trip to Hsipaw was a kaleidoscope of activities, each one special in its own way. I cannot praise too highly the appointed guides, and the bar was set very high by Aye Aye at the Inle Lake, Ko Tin on board the Orient Pandaw was always smiling and had an encyclopedic knowledge of all the places visited and finally, when I went to North Shan I was on my own and it was necessary to have a local guide, Ohm, as well as the Phyu Phyu the guide who escorted me to and from Hsipaw, both spoke excellent English, were very attentive and had a wonderful sense of humour which only went to confirm that the nature of the Burmese is really something very special. Many years ago, I visited South East Asia on a regular basis but never managed to get to Myanmar, yet it is a country that has long held a fascination for me, and I was not disappointed.

Thank you PANDAW.
Peter Morgan

Feb 2017


The service on this ship was unbelievably good. I have never met personnel so efficient, kind, helpful and charming during a river cruise. I know, this sounds exaggerated, but I tell you I'm still absolutely thrilled! Also a special mention to the guides in Hanoi, Mr. Vi Van Kien with the driver Mr. Hai and Mr. "Tifo" (I just got the nickname) on the river cruise were very good as well.

Emmy Frei-Werlen

Mar 2017


We participate on a ship-cruise on the red river in Vietnam from 02-05-2017 - 02-15-2017. The name of the ship was RV Angcor Pandaw. The ship and the crew were excellent. We enjoy all very much. In the brochure of our travel-agency was announced that the trip goes also in the part of the nothern red river. Unfortunately we were not there. But the other excursion destinations were also very interesting.

I have made a little film from our journey;


Gerhard Ohly, Germany

Feb 2017


I have just spent one of the best weeks of my life on the Mekong being looked after by your wonderful crew. The ship was first class and all your crew were a credit to you. Leo gave us lots of information about your company and nothing was too much to ask for, a truly fantastic experience.

Burma Irrawady River Cruise

I am joining your ship in Burma for another cruise on the Irrawaddy for seven nights in October. I am really looking forward to that.

Thank you.
Valerie John


Feb 2017


Having now been back a week from Myanmar and shared my experiences with friends. I must write to thank you for a truly memorable holiday on RV Pandaw 2.

We were 17 Swiss German, 3 Canadians and 16 British, all mixing happily I shared a cabin with another widow, the first time we had holidayed together and we thoroughly enjoyed the time with so much laid on for our pleasure and comfort. At 80 we hoped we were spry for climbing "steep river banks" as warned and of course nothing could have been easier with all of us, men and women, being passed from hand to hand by the crew.

I have filled in Pandaw's questionnaire and everything was marked excellent.

One of my favourite moments was returning to the boat and being greeted with "Welcome home”, generally by the Purser Aung Aung Oo, who was always overseeing his staff quietly and expertly but his example was followed by the crew in their smiling welcome home too.

The attention to detail was amazing. In the dining room our napkins were folded differently each time, a candle, a rabbit, a soup spoon man and many others. The tables were always laid with cutlery handles in a straight row on the edge of the table and the crest always at the top of the china. The waiters were very attentive and were on hand with other members of the crew around the boat to do things for us before we were aware of our need.

It wasn't difficult to love the Burmese people with their polite quiet ways, their humour, their warmth and kindness. Out and about we appreciated them and being able to converse a little with them.

The expeditions were varied and interesting and my only adverse comment is that Yan our young guide had not learned to wait till all of us were within earshot before he started talking. As a former guide I know one cannot always wait for very slow people , but we all kept up well with a steady walk!

We enjoyed the story of The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company on film and "The Lady" on two nights. The puppets, the dancing and most especially the extraordinary trouble the crew went to on the penultimate night with their taking all the chairs and little tables, music, fire, lights and Chinese lanterns on to the sand and just for an hour before dinner.

The food was delicious, the boat beautifully looked after and we were sad to say goodbye to the staff who had become such friends.

Thank you for a very special experience.

Yours sincerely
Judy Coates

Feb 2017


Real cruising on the Irrawaddy. The trouble with our cruise on the Pandaw Orient was that it had to finish. The journey north from Mandalay was not possible because of the river level being so low, but we didn't know about the change of itinerary until mid-way through the cruise, but it didn't matter. We were looked after regally by a lovely friendly crew, bar staff who made excellent cocktails as well as supplying a seemingly endless stream of gin and tonics and the waiters in the dining room knew us all even when we sat at different tables. Food was great – sometime a buffet, sometimes a la carte which you ordered in the morning at breakfast – the freshly cooked omelettes were amazing. Excursions and activities were organised; sometimes a walking tour of the village where we had stopped or a coach trip to places slightly farther afield. Evening entertainment was arranged of local dancers, puppet shows, even fashion parades featuring the all-male crew!! But the most surreal moment for me, was sitting around a blazing fire on a sandbank in the middle of the Irrawaddy River, with fireworks being let off, oil lights twinkling, watching our skipper singing John Denver songs and then everyone dancing around the bonfire to the accompaniment of Abba songs – and this was before dinner!!

There were about 50 passengers on board, we all ate together and no one cared if you wanted to chill out on the sun deck by yourself or get up to watch the sunrise early in the morning. But the experience of this Pandaw cruise has certainly put me off cruising on a big ship. We didn't get lost looking for my cabin, we didn't have to wait for the right sitting at the right dining room for food, we didn't have to queue to get on and off the boat and then queue to get into a coach for a trip and we got to meet a lot more people on our small boat than we would ever have done on a huge ship. Where to go next with Pandaw cruises is the next question.

Feb 2017


My girlfriend, Rosemary, and I would like to say how much we enjoyed our trip on the Laos Pandaw. The boat is lovely. Teak and brass finished with comfortable and very well appointed staterooms. The public areas are spacious and also very comfortable. The food was excellent. A very good variety of local dishes and more European fare. The journey, mostly in Laos, was through wonderful scenery. Stopped at a number of sites including waterfalls, caves and many villages. Several different activities too, including feeding bananas to elephants, giving alms to monks and launching Chinese lanterns. The crew were very friendly and helpful, nothing seemed too much trouble.

Laos River Cruise

Photo is with our Captain and his family in their village. Altogether a wonderful and relaxing holiday.

My thanks and congratulations to everyone involved.

Feb 2017


It is fifty years since I first wanted to see Vietnam, and I have now accomplished my long time wish. I chose Pandaw Cruises because your values are similar to mine, and I also wanted to avoid using the known tourist routes.

The boat is of the highest standard, and the crew were there to make sure we had everything we needed. The trips to the various villages were an experience, walking or cycling along the dykes to get to the village. There we met so many genuinely friendly people, only too eager to show their gardens, houses or meet their families. I felt privileged to be there. Our tour guides/translators were tremendous, they weren't just tour guides, We discussed the many facets of life in Vietnam and they also shared their family backgrounds with us. The ship crew were another cultural experience. Our mainly Cambodian crew were so attentive, friendly, fantastic cooks and again they were willing to tell us about themselves and their families and about their country.

Not everyone has a chance to witness a country the way I did, being respectful of the people and their way of life and I look forward to being a passenger on other Pandaw cruises.

Helena Tenne

Feb 2017


We have just come back from our first trip to Myanmar and included in our Audley itinerary was the two-day trip from Bagan to near Mandalay. I then found I had downloaded Paul Strachan’s book about Pandaw and I just wanted to say thank you. We had the most wonderful time and even though the operation has now been running for many years, all on board including the guests seemed to experience a wonderful spirit of adventure culminating in us congregating around the upper deck. However, I do want to highlight the efforts of your spectacular crew when we landed at the pottery village.

I am now a Pandaw convert and hope to go on more trips when we can travel with you all again.

Many Thanks
Elissa Bayer

Feb 2017


We have just returned from our 10-day river cruise on the Irrawaddy (15-25 January 2016). It's the third Pandaw river cruise we have been on and it was fabulous in every way. From Jimmy (the purser) announcing "Good morning ladies and gentlemen, mingalaba, mingalaba" to the wonderful food, to the fascinating itinerary and visits to small, remote villages which were all superbly run by our guide Brian. The staff were amazing and thought of everything to make our trip even more special. It seemed like nothing was too much trouble for them and the beach party on a sandbank was one of many highlights. Our trip was perfect in every way and we will certainly do more.

Angela O'Connell Pagan and the Upper Irrawaddy Burma River Cruise

Thank you so much
Angela O'Connell

Feb 2017


We have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the Bagan to Mandalay cruise in 2015 we decided that we must go on another Pandaw cruise so the Classic Mekong Cruise was our choice.

From embarking to disembarking seven days later we had a magical time. The bedrooms are very comfortable with lovely hot showers. When we experienced trouble with the water on our last day it was quickly restored within 10 minutes.

The whole crew were both friendly and efficient and work closely as a team. On disembarking during the cruise even the Captain was out ensuring the passengers were assisted on any uneven ground. We were told that they feel like a family and this certainly showed in the service they offered. Once again the food was excellent with a great variety at breakfast and a constantly changing menu for lunch and dinner.

On this cruise, we were joined by three "New" regional managers, Ben, Andre and Leo. They immediately had to deal with a problem when one passenger appeared to have had a stroke. The decision was taken that the boat had to return to Phnom Penh for the passenger to receive medical care, and eventually being admitted to hospital. Everyone on the cruise thought the event was well handled and there was not one complaint that our schedule had to be re-organised. In fact, a 2 hour Tuc Tuc tour of Phnom Penh was quickly organised and this proved to be one of the highlights of the cruise. Maybe this could be considered for permanent inclusion on future cruises. My one criticism was our trip to a fish farm was not very enlightening. It consisted of a one-metre square opening where you could feed the fish and a large souvenir shop. We learned nothing of the farming process and the distribution of the full-grown fish.

I have to heap praise on our guide in Cambodia; Somthang. His detailed knowledge of the history and customs in Cambodia made all our visits extremely interesting. He lost 36 members of his family during the Pol Pot regime, spent much of his childhood in a work camp and he later served as a soldier during the communist war. Our trip to the Killing Fields was very poignant with his commentary. During all our trips his knowledge of local life and crafts was enlightening. He arranged for two Banyan trees to be planted at Wat Preah Angkoak. He even took photos of the passengers watering the new trees and emailed each individual photo having obtained our email addresses. In addition to all his knowledge he also had a great sense of humour which we all appreciated.

Please pass on our grateful thanks to all the crew for making our cruise truly memorable. It has now left us with a problem. Which Pandaw cruise shall we go on next?

Kind regards
Gordon and Christine Halliday

Feb 2017


I was lucky to be on a Pandaw cruise in January. I sailed on the Pandaw Kalaw on the Irrawaddy River. I am writing to compliment you and your catering crew. The food was 5 star and varied. It was a pleasure to dine on the ship with such good staff waiting on us. They were enthusiastic and took pride in their work. Their attitude made dining a pleasurable experience. The cocktail waiter was superb and the various meals appealed to all tastes whether Asian or Western. Please would you congratulate your staff on my behalf. Their attentiveness to our needs made the trip wonderful in so many ways.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs. Robyn Georgina Ogdin

Feb 2017


Laos River CruiseOn 28th December 2016, I embarked on the R.V. Laos Pandaw for 10 of the most magical days I have ever experienced. The small boat was comfortable and well designed and the friendly crew were considerate and always there to help. The food could not be faulted, indeed I cannot think of anything that could be improved as it was all perfection. The outings to the villages were unforgettable, seeing their lives and homes. During these visits the villagers were smiling and welcoming and the crew who accompanied us were always on hand to help and explain.

I wish I could do the whole thing again!

Irene Clarke

Feb 2017


Hi Pandaw

I was one of the fortunate 13 people that just did the Jinghong to Vientiane trip. And made it! What an adventure! (We picked up 3 more passengers later) That was our third Pandaw, but I doubt we will ever be able to top it. Exhilarating does not even describe the feeling of riding rapids on such a large ship. I would do it again any day. The on-shore activities were also wonderful, in most part thanks to the wonderful, amusing, knowledgeable character Mr Vin. The scenery along that part of the river is breathtaking.

Kim McArdle & Jamie Aitken - The Mekong: From Laos to China River Cruise

It was also lovely to board and find Saroeung was the Purser. He was also the Purser on our first Mekong cruise and an absolute delight. He came up with wonderful ways to keep us oldies awake on New Year Celebrations. It was the best New Year we have had for many many years and have decided that every New Year will be spent on a ship. Also aboard, a few more crew that we were familiar with. It’s always nice to see familiar faces. We will be booking the Irrawaddy for July (Golden Land).

Kim McArdle & Jamie Aitken
New South Wales

Jan 2017


I just wanted to say how much we enjoyed the cruise, the food, the cocktails and the company of our fellow travellers and the staff.

We enjoyed the excursions, which were well designed and not too long, given the heat on some days. Just right! The visit to the school was amazing and the children joined in enthusiastically.

The Classic Mekong River Cruise

Wishing everyone at Pandaw a Happy New Year.

Vivienne Bourke

Jan 2017


I was one of Stuart's lucky passengers on the above cruise. This was the best all round cruise/trip I have ever had. Being the oldest on board, I was especially grateful to all members of the crew who provided a willing strong arm when needed to get up newly cut steps on river banks. They did this with respect and care, knowing I could manage once past the obvious difficulty.

I loved the great variety of exploration provided each day, and the spontaneous surprises when opportunities arose. The food was superb. I did not know what to expect when I read that the boat had its own bakery - the "French" type was addictive! I also was worried, needlessly, about chilli in most Asian foods which I can't tolerate but plenty of alternatives were provided.

As you can see I loved every minute and wish more people knew about it.

Elizabeth (Betty) Geldard

Jan 2017


The Mekong Classic over Christmas was our first cruise experience of any kind after many years of independent travel and what a way to start. From the moment we stepped onboard the Mekong Pandaw we knew this would be a special adventure. The service and friendliness of the staff was sensational. From the start of the day when Kiri would provide an early riser's tea on the sun deck to watch the sunrise through to the evening meal and entertainment our every wish was catered for. The Mekong was a unique experience, made even better by the special features and character of the ship and fabulous crew.

Andrew and Katrina - The Classic Mekong River Cruise

Many thanks Paul and the Pandaw team for our introduction to river cruises and a special thanks to our Purser Bunthoeun who had a perfect presence and sense of humour.

A memorable experience
Andrew and Katrina

Apr 2017


My husband and I recently had the wonderful experience of doing the 14 night Burma Irrawaddy Cruise leaving on the 19th December from Yangon to Mandalay and we really had to contact Pandaw to comment on our experience. The itinerary was relaxing yet covered most areas of interest on the river and the boat was beautiful, clean, relaxing and the food offered was way above what we expected in choice and taste.

But the crew of the boat were what really amazed us. They were absolutely amazing!! From the captain all the way to the lovely smiles and welcome back on board from the crew who had dug stairs up very steep river banks. We were spoilt beyond anything we have experienced. The crew went above and beyond and this is our greatest memory of our trip. The crew of our cruise deserve to be congratulated!!

Due to their amazing service and attitude we are only looking at doing Pandaw cruises in the future.

Jan 2017


I cannot speak highly enough of the crew on RV Pandaw II; we were totally cosseted every inch of the way. They made our trip exceptional in so many ways. Each day was inspirational, in the way that they had all so carefully thought out things that would please us and Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations were just superb - from the cocktail party on the sandbank to the fireworks at midnight.

All Pandaw crew were first class, but Thu Ya Tun was outstanding. I would be most grateful if you would be able to arrange for him to receive a special mention. He was our waiter and a new member to the Pandaw team. Everyone just loved his happy, cheerful outlook on life, his excellent command of English and the way he looked after us all; remembering our names and pre-empting everything we needed. He was an absolute credit to the Pandaw team. I know that he will be earmarked him for promotion, like our Expedition Manager Leo, he's an exceptional young man.

Valerie and Steve - The Irrawaddy River Cruise

May I take this opportunity to wish them good health, peace of mind and contentment in the year ahead.

Warmest wishes
Valerie and Steve

Jan 2017


Embarkation was so queues, just boarded and taken care of. The cabin is all in teak as is the ship. Nice toiletries. My only complaint is that the water pressure for the shower is not that strong but plenty of hot water. Note: there is only one plug (European two pin round) so bring an adaptor if you have lots of things to recharge.

The food was excellent and inventive. Do try the Burmese breakfast though you can have eggs and bacon et al too. The hash brown potatoes are excellent! Lunch and dinner were 4 course meals, 3 main course selections: European, Burmese, and vegetarian. Bottled water always available, as much as you want.

Leo, the Pandaw Expedition Manager, was on our ship for half of the cruise. He was typical of the kind care and service that all the cruise staff gave to us. Nothing was too difficult. Endlessly helpful, which for me using a cane, was just perfect. Wifi is available on the Sun Deck. Download time varied according to where we were. While talking about the Sun Deck, I must tell you to try the nuts...excellent!

English is sometimes difficult to understand, but that is part of the fun. Take some warm clothing as it is cool in the morning as you near Mandalay. Have lots of Khat 1000 bills...about 60p. I changed $50 at the airport and still had left over Khat by the end of the cruise. They only accept NEW American dollars. Business is done in dollars, absolutely no need for Pounds.

They went out of their way to make Christmas and New Year’s Eve exciting and pleasurable...with gifts for all. This is a relaxing, easy, cruise. The ship holds a maximum of 48 people, but we had only 31, so lots of room. All the excursions were well organised and interesting. I highly rate this cruise and this cruise line.

Jan 2017


The Irrawaddy River flows through Myanmar from north to south for a distance of some 2170 km (1348 mi). It is the country’s most important waterway and one of the world’s great rivers. It is wide, shallow, and treacherous to navigate. It is also “The Road to Mandalay,” an epithet bestowed by Rudyard Kipling, poet and noted mad Englishman. At one time The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company (IFC) operated several hundred vessels on the river, the largest fleet of riverboats in the world. Many of these came from Scotland, where they were built, then disassembled and shipped to Burma (a riverboat with a three-foot draft is not meant for the open sea), and subsequently reassembled in Rangoon. The fleet moved freight, primarily natural resources from the north and manufactured goods from the south, as well as passengers intent on business and tourism. Sadly, the flotilla was largely scuttled in 1943 in order to keep the boats out of the hands of the Japanese army. But the river, and commerce, flowed on.

Since A.J. and I had never been on a river excursion, we decided to take a cruise on the mighty Irrawaddy to see Mandalay and Bagan. It was pretty epic. We were joined by our friend H, who has visited us twice before in exotic locales.

We spent seven nights aboard a faithful reproduction of the IFC P.S. (Packet Steamer) Kalaw, a well-appointed and very comfortable boat. Passengers came and went and we averaged a small but convivial company of 14 along with a crew compliment of about the same. The staff could not have been nicer, and both our Purser and Tour Guide kept us well informed and squared away. That said, cue the highlight reel.

Architecture - A few definitions are in order. Temple: A place of worship for the followers of Buddhism. (Always remove your shoes.) Pagoda: Buddhist temple, typically in the form of a multi-tiered tower. Stupa: A dome-shaped structure erected as a Buddhist shrine. (One cannot actually enter a stupa.) In central Myanmar, these structures number in the thousands and we visited a slew of them in Mandalay, Mingun, Sagaing, Innwa (home of the world famous U Bein footbridge), Pakokku, and especially...

Bagan - A 42 sq km World Heritage Site and home to roughly 3,000 monuments, some of which, having recently suffered earthquake damage, are wreathed in elaborate bamboo scaffolding while being repaired. Bagan is an Angkor Wat-caliber tourist destination and is lousy with gringos, especially at sunset. But it is worth the hassle. Seriously, check out the photos.

Commerce - We visited two pottery villages (glazed and terracotta), a stone carver’s street, a goldsmith shop, a cheroot factory, a silk weaving workshop, and several local markets. And, as part of the price of admission, we were besieged by hawkers and hustled, sometimes successfully, at every turn.

Mandalay Pagan Packet River Cruise

Pandaw, the cruise ship company, supports a number of schools in the area. We visited a couple of them as well as a The Mingun Buddhist Home for the Aged. Donate some money, make some merit. That’s the deal.

Transport - Besides the Kalaw (which stranded on a sandbar only once), we got about by bus, truck, ferry, tuk-tuk (a rickshaw pulled by a motorbike), rowboat, and horse cart (less fun than you might imagine).

Shipboard Life - In addition to three squares a day (the food was outstanding), we also were treated to a variety of presentations, including: lectures on Burmese customs and history; cooking, dressing, and make-up demonstrations; Burmese dance and puppet shows; and movies. Oh yes, and cocktail hour every evening before dinner. Very civilized!

The River - But as wonderful as the sightseeing and other activities were, what Anne and I enjoyed most was sitting on deck while the Kalaw was underway, catching the breeze, and watching scenes, some of which would have been familiar a century ago, flow by. We felt like we too had played our small part in the story of the Irrawaddy.


Jan 2017


As a small group of seven, we have just returned from The Christmas Laos Cruise on the RV Laos Pandaw – this was a fabulous cruise, a real highlight and totally different to the lower Mekong.

The Laos Mekong River Cruise

It was wild, turbulent, beautiful and interesting as we swirled our way through the numerous low water rocky gates along the river between Vientiane and Luang Prabang – This is a must do cruise before it’s spoiled by the planned dams on the river. The food was both interesting and ample and Christmas was celebrated in style on Christmas Eve with a stop on Christmas Day to have a celebratory swim in the Mekong. Thank you Captain Phan all the crew for a very exciting yet restful Christmas Cruise!

Dec 2016


I would like to thank Pandaw for the most amazing memories in the stunning countries of Vietnam and Cambodia. These countries were always on the top of my list and having the opportunity to see them on board a Pandaw ship made the experience even more extraordinary.

The journey itself was magical, experiencing the local villages and being amongst the locals was very special.

The service on the vessel was flawless. The staff go above and beyond to make you feel welcome and comfortable, their attention to details is fantastic; they learn your name, cabin number and even little preferences in just a couple of hours. The food was delicious and the cabin very beautiful and comfortable.

The Classic Mekong River Cruise

Thank you so much for some great pictures and very special memories.


Feb 2017


Pushing off from the muddy banks of the Irrawaddy, sipping on a graciously offered Singapore Sling, we read aloud, "Mandalay", by Rudyard Kipling. Comfy in those cushy wicker chairs, we realized that "where the Old Flotilla lay" referred to the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, whose steamers plied this very river's coffee-colored waters through then colonial Burma and that the Katha Pandaw, the finely finished steamer on which we were sailing, was designed and named after one of those earlier vessels.

Of the many means of getting from Mandalay to Pagan, the Katha Pandaw is by far one of the most elegant and genial, evoking the region's colorful past while offering all the creature comforts of modern-day travel. We best enjoyed watching the Myanmar scenery slide by the rails, especially at sunset, but also liked learning about local culture with a well-guided village walk.Food quality and variety issued forth from a small galley was deliciously impressive, and the entire staff, eager to please.

The Irrawaddy Mandalay to Pagan Short River Cruise

For our family's independent land-based exploration, the overnight journey from Mandalay to Pagan was the perfect complement - and certainly a highlight - of our Myanmar travels. Thank you Pandaw!

Sue Rock

Dec 2016


The service was fantastic, beyond that the whole crew & staff showed an honest concern for all of us with a genuine smile at all times. Food was 5 star, 3 choices of entrees, lunch and dinner and a buffet breakfast with cooked menu to choose from. The drinks were good; free beer, local whisky, & soft drinks. Good wine & imported spirits for purchase at any time. The cabins were cleaned & beds changed daily. Shower was very good. Another 5 star!

Daily visits to villages, markets and schools, with our English-speaking guide… a real cultural experience, quite amazing. The scenery, photo opportunities & geography added to the overall experience. After 45 years of international travel, this was by far our best trip, fantastic from start to finish and not one negative. The crew & staff, the food & drinks, the culture, the boat, etc., makes this a must do regardless of your age.

Thank you Pandaw.
Ewa & Robert Ringgenberg Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Jul 2017


Click Here to read Stephen Horsfield's testimonial blog of his The Chindwin river cruise in November 2016 on-board the RV Zawgyi Pandaw.

Jan 2017


The cruise itself and the timing in November were perfect. I think all the guests were pleased with the comfort of the "new" Laos Pandaw and its cabins. The crew was always extremely attentive and nice. The cruise director, the bar chef and the purser I found on very good form from the beginning and the captain was a real gem. He certainly knew his job and was always good spirited and (mostly always) relaxed, often funny. Compared with the Vietnam/Cambodia and the Burma cruises this one on the Upper Mekong was truly spectacular. The itinerary was well chosen, the BBQ on a river bank with folks from the above village and the floating of fire lanterns was a highlight. So, as a résumé, I really did like this cruise.


Mar 2017


Sailing up the mighty Brahmaputra River in North India with Pandaw River Cruises was a truly amazing adventure. I had always dreamed of seeing the real India and when we saw this opportunity to explore the Assam region by boat we couldn't resist.

The ship itself was wonderful - a real floating hotel. The cabins were beautifully appointed and spotless (I'd recommend a balcony birth so you can watch the ever-changing scenery slip by and enjoy an evening cocktail as the sun set) the crew were superb and really looked after us. The food was delicious with a great range of both western and Indian delicacies. Dinner was a very social affair we made some great friends and had many laughs with our fellow passengers.

Dawn Clarke and husband/partner Brahmaputra River Cruise

What really set this trip apart was the sense of discovery. Every morning we woke up to watch the majestic river reveal new landscapes. Our itinerary was jammed packed with the most amazing experiences. Everyday we had excursions to temples, local villages and tea plantations. I have to make a special mention of Venkatesh, our resident naturalist, historian and all round lovely guy. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the animals, birds and plant life and was always fascinating to talk with. When we visited temples, he could describe in detail the symbolism, spiritualism and beliefs. Every evening we were treated to talks on the wildlife and could watch the amazing sunsets from the 360- degree sundeck. One evening we disembarked to a deserted island to enjoy a bonfire barbeque and cocktails under the starlight sky.

The highlights of the trip had to be the two safaris to Kaziranga National Park. The first was by jeep which allowed us to cover a lot of ground and see as much of the abundant wildlife, culminating at sunset with a stunning view of the animals gathered at a watering hole. Our second was on elephant back which allowed us to get really close to the wildlife. At one point we were within feet of a basking Rhino, a truly amazing sight.

Dawn Clarke and husband/partner India River Cruise

Sailing with Pandaw is more than just a holiday it's a truly unique and immersive experience, a trip of a lifetime. If you're interested in getting off the beaten track and seeing slices of life that the regular tourism would miss out on then this is the trip for you. It was an unforgettable journey and I can't recommend it enough.

Dawn Clarke and husband/partner

Dec 2016


My husband and I travelled downstream on the Mekong Pandaw, departing Siem Reap on 12 November.

As soon as we stepped on board we both felt the best part of the cruise was going to be the vessel. However, we were not quite correct, because the crew and the service we received were exceptional as well. The Mekong Pandaw is the real lady of the Mekong and even when we passed other Pandaw ships from time to time, we were happy that she was ours!

The food service was fabulous with a wide choice of both Asian and western dishes, and the wine package turned out to be such a good idea that we would recommend it to others. Our fellow guests were from the UK, Canada, Germany, Australia and a small group of Americans joined the ship at Phnom Penh. The sun deck, which stretched the entire length of the ship was a wonderful place to relax, catch a cool breeze and enjoy a pre-dinner drink (and an after dinner one as well).

Pandaw provided one Cambodian guide, Som, and two Vietnamese guides, Wang and Giang and the changeover took place when we crossed the border into Vietnam. They were all excellent guides who imparted a great deal of knowledge about their respective countries and made us feel that our visit to their part of the world was appreciated, especially in Cambodia where the tourist dollar certainly assists some of the local people. The excursions were interesting, fun and quite different, and usually happened twice a day. The ability of the ship to dock right on the shore and put down a gangplank was a terrific way to start any excursion.

Neville & Jill Pinkham Classic Mekong river cruise photos

We can't speak highly enough of the crew, most of whom seemed to multi-task! The shoe cleaning, cold towel, hand sanitiser and welcome back drinks after each excursion were great, and at night in the dining room and at the bar their friendly faces made dining a pleasure. The local entertainment on board, especially the children's performances, were very enthusiastic.

Last but not least, our beautiful cabin which was spotlessly clean, became a little oasis where we could cool down, have a lovely hot shower, and at the end of the day provided us with a wonderful soft bed to collapse into - being a tourist is hard work. A note here; there is a handy cupboard under the bed for your suitcase, and the dimensions of our bags were 65 x 45 x 25 cm and they fit quite well, but any case much larger would have a problem being stowed.

Well done Pandaw - we would highly recommend this voyage to any traveller as the best river cruise to get a true feel for luxury and adventure - what more could you ask for.

Neville & Jill Pinkham
Sydney, Australia

Dec 2016


This was the third trip, having previously enjoyed seeing Cambodia/Vietnam and Burma with Pandaw. As before all components of our travel were very well taken care of; just so you feel at home.

We were impressed by how the Captain steered the big boat between the rocks and strong currents with great skill. I had a sore back for a few days, but the staff quickly gave me ointment for my sciatica and I recovered in a day. The little downside on this trip was that they were apparently short of an extra guide, which made it a bit brief on information during some excursions. We thoroughly recommend the Pre-Cruise Extensions to Plain of Jars as it is a fantastic tour and it was very interesting.

Plain of Jars, sister ships Champa and Laos Pandaw moored together and the other of misty mountains near Pak ou Buddha caves

We have provided three images, one from the Plain of Jars, sister ships Champa and Laos Pandaw moored together and the other of misty mountains near Pak ou Buddha caves. To photograph it was unfortunately a bit rainy and foggy at times.

Best Regards
Hans and Brita Nauman

Mar 2017


We travelled in October 2016 on the Classic Mekong trip.

Thank you for a really wonderful trip on the RV Mekong Pandaw. We had the most amazing time and have returned with lovely memories that we will cherish forever (and over 2000 photos).

Firstly we were very impressed with the 7-night cruise, the ship was wonderful, the crew (all of them - no exception) were incredible, friendly, welcoming, the list could go on. We received impeccable service from all crew members, my vegetarian requirements on the ship were always met, all the crew were so willing to help; it was faultless. Housekeeping was spot-on and our room was kept very clean, laundry was taken care of promptly, the welcome back on the ship from excursions was a lovely touch, the evening entertainment / quiz night was great and the briefing on the evening was always very detailed and informative. We both thought the last night was delightful with the BBQ and dance.

April and Barry Palmer The Classic Mekong River Cruise

The excursions whilst on the ship were really great; varied and off the beaten track which we particularly enjoyed. One of our highlights was visiting a local school. The Killing Fields excursion and museum we will never forget! Our guide Phaly was superb and gave a touching insight on this Killing Fields tour.

We were lucky to have a lovely group of people travelling with us who also made the trip and a few of them have kept in contact with us which is nice.

We enjoyed our Saigon and Siem Reap sightseeing. We had great guides who were very informative.

Thank you to everyone who made this such a wonderful trip, we were very impressed!

This trip was a truly inspiring and memorable experience encompassing beautiful scenery, wonderful cuisine and fascinating culture. The warmth and friendliness of the local people together with unforgettable historical sights has left us with long-lasting memories. Truly amazing!

April and Barry Palmer

Nov 2016


Just back from the most magnificent trip to Myanmar of nearly 3 weeks exploring a fantastic country. I wanted to email Pandaw Expeditions to say thank you for your generosity on providing such a great cruise down the Irrawaddy. Everything went smoothly, food was fantastic, the staff were amazingly helpful, caring and talented, the sightseeing was fascinating and the additional information provided by the guides and Purser added to the delight of myself and fellow travellers.

Clare Wooldridge Irrawaddy River Cruise

I will be singing Pandaw's praises and encouraging people to visit Myanmar and all its wonderful sites. Thank you also to Wendy Wu Tours.

Thank you again

Mar 2017


Four cruises down and a few more to go. Everyone a great trip. Give a 4.9 listing, never give a 5 as from there it can only be downhill. Great staff on all, great places to see, great pace to keep up with every one, great food, great accommodation on board. One cruise was cancelled at the last minute to our dismay but the company was fantastic and found another cruise which we took and really looked after us with additional fares and accommodation to fit in.

The Laos Mekong River Cruise

Cannot speak highly enough of Pandaw and the way they have treated us over the trips we have done with them. More to come.

Jan 2017


The Pandaw Mekong experience was magnified by the quality of crew & people we met on the cruise. The Pandaw Mekong cruise provides a fantastic moving picture of village life along the river. Small children stand outside their homes on the river bank & jump up & down on the spot when you wave at them. A group of young Moslem girls on the riverbank, mimicking my wife's dance moves & star jumps as we cruise by. Twenty teenage boys playing a soccer game on a large field beside the river with no indication of a village nearby. Small islands with three or four homes, sharing the work in their crop fields. Men, in the fast-flowing river, placing fishing nets along overgrown banks. Huge lone buffalos standing in flooded fields beside the river. Whole villages on stilts. The happy children. Observing rural village market life. A remarkable experience I will never forget.

Trevor & Sandy Johns - The Classic Mekong River Cruise

Again, I salute the crew for a great job completed with style & smiles, the Purser Saroun (stand-up comedian), Pandaw Mekong Captain Din Sotha (docking with great skill at Kratie floating wharf), & Mekong Cruise Director Ben Stead, just a good bloke.

Trevor & Sandy Johns

Oct 2016


Having just returned from a visit to Myanmar on a Pandaw River Expedition, I am writing to advise you that it was a most enjoyable and memorable experience.

All the crew on board were exemplary and the Purser and House Boys with whom we had most contact were extremely helpful and friendly at all times and nothing was too much trouble for them.  We were treated like royalty. We were all very impressed with the Chef on board as the food was fantastic.   I cannot praise them all highly enough.  

Win Zar Zar Min was our local guide and she imparted her extensive knowledge of the country to us in an engaging manner and with a great sense of humour.  

All in all, it was a holiday of a lifetime, due in no small part to the amazing people that looked after us, and I know that my fellow passengers feel the same.

Kind regards
Anne Hinds

Nov 2016


As part of my independent travel in Myanmar, I joined the Pandaw Orient on the Bagan to Mandalay 7-day cruise. The boat was delightful and comfortable, food and cocktails were fabulous, and as having cocktails after a day of sightseeing is my guilty pleasure this was perfect. Nothing was too much trouble for the crew who ensured that the trip was perfect. My thanks to the crew!

The excursions were well paced and interesting, with guides who were knowledgeable and informative. I've a passion for watching the sunrise and set and every day this was spectacular!

Jennifer Wylie, Orient Pandaw Bagan to Mandalay 7-day river cruise in Asia

I've travelled extensively in Asia, and Myanmar has been on my bucket list for a long time. For me it was "Simply the best" and truly "the jewel in the crown" of Asia. I will return to Myanmar and I would include a river cruise with Pandaw as it was delightful with the most aesthetically pleasing boats cruising the Irrawaddy while contrasting with the amazing landscape. For me the "no single supplement" is a deal breaker, please continue offering this.

Oct 2016


This was just wonderful. The ship was lovely and the staff gave an unparalleled high standard of service. I especially want to mention the amazing chef. I was the only vegetarian in the group, but the food prepared for me was varied, beautifully presented and the best I have had on any holiday - ever!

Patricia Somerset photos

Patricia Somerset

Oct 2016


We wanted to thank you and your wonderful staff for making our Hoamlin to Monywa Chindwin River cruise on the RV Zawgyi Pandaw an amazing adventure. We found the level of service and attention for detail amazing. It was no small feat to accomplish superior results in such an isolated environment.

We especially appreciate your watching over our vegetarian needs. Once again we extend special kudos to your Executive Chef and the sous-chef for developing unique and delicious dining options for us. It was delightful to experience innovative regional culinary dishes (vegetarian style).

It is easy to understand how fourteen years with Pandaw has enabled The Purser to deliver the standard of excellence Pandaw strives for.

We felt a greater sense of understanding and empathy for Myanmar as we departed the boat. We believe there is a bright future ahead for the country and we trust the local people will benefit from the positive changes ahead.

Once again, special thanks to you and you wonder staff and the crew for delivering a wonderful experience for us.

Best wishes,
Fred Harris
Joy Satterlee

Nov 2016


I am writing regarding my trip to Myanmar. The cruise on the Pandaw was great. The staff are so attentive and nothing was too much bother. We will be encouraging friends to take that cruise.

I would also like to thank you for supplying Ms Ma Yin Yin Aye for our Inle extension. Her English skills were excellent as was her knowledge of the area; she also added things we were interested in.

Neil Ludvigsen

Nov 2016


While in Mandalay on our post cruise Pandaw extension from the 15th to 18th October we had a local guide called Phoo. Exquisitely dressed, she greeted us as soon as we disembarked. She spent the next three days with us always on time for our pickup. She tailored our itinerary to suit our interests and paid particular attention to my mother's needs who is in the photo with Phoo. My mother has limited mobility and uses a walker. This was always taken into account. Phoo also showed me around less accessible places while my mother rested. We were given an insight to local life and participated in some local events.

Burma The Irrawaddy River Cruise - Christine Lockey

Phoo clearly understood our requests and needs and offered experiences based on our interests. I would highly recommend her as a guide for international tourists.

Christine Lockey

Oct 2016


I just wanted to thank you all for the wonderful time we had aboard the Katha Pandaw in September. Everything about the trip was memorable and enjoyable. All the crew were fantastic - so helpful and friendly- the food was exquisite (possibly the best I have ever tasted. The curry one night was absolutely divine). I can't wait for the cook book to come out! The boat itself was beautiful and kept in immaculate condition. The whole thing showed Pandaw at its best. Infact, we were so impressed that we are thinking of doing another Pandaw cruise soon. If the next trip matches up to the one on the Katha Pandaw I know we will have a wonderful time.

Gillian Miles photos

One of the best photo of Eddie and me for a long time.!

With so many thanks and best wishes.

Aug 2016


Dear Paul,

We have just completed our third Pandaw cruise (Hanoi/Red River), and already thinking of the next destination.

Our boat “Angkor Pandaw” was looking very trim and presentable. Our cabin (201) very comfortable, and kept that way by the care and attention of the cabin attendant on a daily basis. He often found little ways to provide those extra touches which add to the enjoyment of the cruise.

All staff were attentive, and clearly well skilled in their various activities. Friendly, without being too familiar. The dining salon was immaculate and served up delicious and varied dishes of both eastern and western varieties. Particular attention was paid to my wife’s vegetarian diet which was pleasing. We would rate dining salon staff, and chefs, first class.

Our two independent guides, Mr Vu, and Mr Duoc, did an excellent job in providing commentary and leading the group on the various excursions. It’s fair to say that in comparison with other Mekong, and Myanmar cruises, the Hanoi/Red River cruise doesn’t always compare scenically, but it is still a very worthwhile and enjoyable cruise. When shore excursions not available, other on-board entertainments were organised. One particular shore excursion was a visit to hear the Hat Xoan singing and dancing at Hung Lo temple (Viet Tri). My wife and I are former Australian diplomats who have worked and lived in Vietnam. It is fair to say that this performance is one of the most impressive we have seen over the years. Not only is it highly entertaining, but of great cultural significance, both to visiting tourists, as well as to the Vietnamese themselves. Please continue to support this activity, it is very important. Another good show was the water puppets at Thanh Ha. Comparable with those staged in Hanoi, and in a natural, authentic setting.

All boat and vehicle transfers well organised using safe and efficient boats and vehicles.

The farewell by all crew members enjoyable and memorable. Many passengers joined in the singing and dancing.

Paul, again Pandaw has done us proud. More travel already scheduled fore 2016, but already thinking Pandaw for 2017. Perhaps Borneo (we know Kuching having lived in Malaysia for five years), or, maybe the Ganges. Have visited India (including Palace on Wheels) a couple of times, but seen from the deck of a boat will bring a new perspective. Who knows?

We wish you and all at Pandaw every future success. Wish you could find rivers navigable enough to float a boat in Sri Lanka, another of our favourite destinations. In the meantime stay safe, well and happy.

Trevor and Jan Greenwood

Aug 2016


Recently my wife and I had the very pleasant experience of being part of the Pandaw river adventure aboard the RV Kha Byoo Pandaw down the Chindwin River. Our cruise started on 23 July, 2016 at Homalin and finished on 30 July 2016 at Monywa. We didn’t want it to end!

For sure we will be looking at undertaking further cruises with Pandaw in the future.

We would like to offer the following comments / suggestions;

Firstly we wish to truly thank the Pandaw organisation, the entire Kha Byoo crew, as well as our guide Ko Kyaw Soe Latt, for a very memorable experience. The food and overall service were absolutely second to none.

Although, due to obvious operational reasons, we didn’t have regular contact with all of the crew, we thought that two of the crew in particular, whom we did have regular contact with, were outstanding; they being waiter U Maing Htoo Lwin and sailor U Aung Win Naing.

All of the crew were very friendly, professional, and efficient and a credit to Pandaw; and we thought that the captain, U Zaw Zaw Oo, and crew handled the boat admirably.

Our guide, Ko Kyaw Soe Latt, although not a Pandaw employee, was tremendous and we have sent a separate email to him.

My wife and I lived in SE Asia for about 14 years and visited numerous villages during that time; however, surprising to us, one of our highlights of this Pandaw cruise were the village visits. We found the people to be very genuine, friendly, accommodating and welcoming to both passengers and Pandaw staff alike. The kids were simply delightful and it was very pleasing that virtually none of them asked for money, sweets etc. We can only hope that this mind-set can be sustained.

We normally try to give items such as text books, pens, balls, personal hygiene products etc and on this cruise, also as suggested by crew and our guide; most of the passengers presented such items to the kids.

Perhaps in the Pandaw information, such as the welcoming letter, it could be generally recommended that passengers should not promote begging by handing out money / sweets etc to the children; but instead to give books, pens, balls, personal hygiene products etc?

Barry & Barry McDiarmid

Jul 2016


UPSTREAM ON THE RED RIVER - Always something to see and do, and so relaxing!

Pandaw's offer of 'no single supplement' on their Red River cruise, to areas of Vietnam I had never before visited, was irresistible to me. I usually travel with my husband, and felt a little wary of traveling alone for an extended period of time; this cruise seemed like a great way to try river cruising, with a company which gives a lot back to the communities it visits. Whilst we had made a number of visits to Asia over the years, we had never cruised there.

My early June departure put me right at the start of the wet season, but we were very lucky with the weather. It was very hot, but the few showers we had were at night, with the exception of one tropical downpour during an afternoon shore excursion. On that occasion the rain was a welcome relief from the heat, though that didn't stop the crew arriving to rescue us, armed with multiple large umbrellas.

Halong Bay and the Red River Cruise DancingPhotos courtesy of Lex Lees

Our ship, the RV Angkor Pandaw, was ideal for travelling the broad and sometimes shallow waterways. The teak cabins were comfortable and spotlessly clean, with plenty of storage. The individually controlled air conditioning coped well, even on days when the outside temperature approached 38 Celsius. Outdoor lounges in the centre and front of the upper deck provided comfortable areas for relaxing, socialising and watching the ever changing scenery. Halong Bay was quite stunningly beautiful, but even the more industrial and rural riverscapes later in the cruise provided plenty of interest, with a fascinating array of river craft of all shapes and sizes, and ever changing activities along the river. Pandaw are the only company cruising this route, and I realised we were a tourist attraction in our own right when I saw a truck driver on one of the bridges photograph us on his mobile phone as we passed underneath! As the days passed, the front of the ship became my favourite haunt when I wasn't on a shore excursion. There I sat in comfort, with my camera at the ready, watching the passing scenery, writing emails home, posting photos on Facebook, and of course indulging in regular cold drinks or coffee.

My fellow cruisers were a diverse group, from the USA, England, Germany, as well as fellow Australians. I enjoyed having company when I wanted it, and being free to relax in solitude if I chose. As I got to know my fellow travellers, I realised I was one of the few passengers who was a first timer with Pandaw. It says a lot for the quality and variety of the cruises Pandaw offers that so many passengers were on their second, third or fourth cruise with the company.

Perhaps Pandaw's greatest asset is its professional and multi national staff. Our young crew, mostly from Cambodia, were exceptional in their professionalism and friendliness. It is impossible to single any one crew member out. When cruising, they were quick to learn each passenger's food and seating preferences, and soon knew us all by name. The food was of course delicious, with a wide variety of Western, Vietnamese and Cambodian dishes, and a wonderful array of fresh fruit, seafood, and meats of all types. When we went on shore excursions, the crew made sure all of us were safe and comfortable, and looked out especially for any passengers who weren't so mobile. Out two local Vietnamese guides, Tuan and Vu, offered not only a wealth of local knowledge, but also shared with us some interesting stories about their own families and lives, which provided a real insight into Vietnamese life and customs. Like the crew, they were friendly and accessible, and always happy to answer questions or translate a question we might want to ask a local.

Our shore excursions were many and varied, and offered something for everyone. We were able to experience a real taste of local life, culture and crafts. It was especially important to me to know that Pandaw gives financial support to the communities we visited, and that visits by Pandaw are rotated throughout different households within a village, sharing any monetary benefit equitably. We were never pressured to give money or make purchases, nor did we feel like voyeurs.

Halong Bay and the Red River Cruise DancingPhotos courtesy of Lex Lees

Now back in the midst of a Sydney winter, I'm reminiscing fondly about my cruising days, and planning my next Pandaw itinerary. This time though, I won't get away without my husband, now that he's seen the photos and heard the stories!

Lex Lees
First time cruiser
Part time teacher
Full time traveler (I wish)

Apr 2016


My wife and I did the last trip on the Laos Pandaw from Jinghong to Chang Kohng. I would like to commend the ability of the captain of this boat who navigated through waters that a kayaker would have thought difficult. Your crew, as usual were of a high standard (this is my third trip with Pandaw), always smiling and happy to look after our needs. I would also like to mention Ms Nguyen who on all occasions has been ready to answer all my questions and assist me in the three cruises I have done. Our escort on the post Pandaw trip through the hill tribes in Thailand was Jeeranun Phanna who did an excellent job and we learned a lot from her. She made the trip run very smoothly. I am now considering doing your new Borneo trip as I know it will be the same high standard as the other three.

Thanks again to all your staff and all the best for your new initiatives.

Richard and Dena Clark

Mar 2016


The biggest experience and most comfortable and welcoming and nourishing on our trip to Burma were the few days on Pandaw RV-Zawgyi. We did not want to leave. The crew were quite the best. They looked after us to perfection. I would like to list all their names as every one of them played their bit in the experience we had.

Apr 2016


Hi Angie,

Having now got over our jet lag thought I would thank you personally for all your work making the journey of a remarkable experience,so satisfying,educational and wonderful.

The Hotels were a joy, the River itself magnificent with 3 experiences with the Zawigyi ie: Burnt out clutch plate on one engine,damaged rudder control, and a stranding on a sand bank, what an experience!! the whole trip was. Mentioning the craft everything was shipshape, crew marvellous and the food WOW !! better than 5 star. Mentioning the crew they were all so happy, there is an old saying that a happy crew indicates an efficient ship.

We found the Myanese (Burmese) people so friendly,accommodating and friendly,have some great photographs. The trip to the Commonwealth War Cemetery really fulfilled a wish, and the tour of Yangon great. Can not say anything more except to say will put something on Trip Advisor.

Kyay Zu Bel
John and Karen Fountain.

Feb 2017


In March 2015, my family was introduced to Pandaw and Myanmar and we fell in love with both. Our seven days on the RV Kindat Pandaw were magical as we explored the areas around Mandalay and Bagan under the knowledgeable guidance of Harry. Experiencing the Irrawaddy was exciting……from getting stuck on a sandbar to spotting the dolphins (albeit at a distance). We had the good fortune to meet Stuart Hickman when we boarded and I was reassured that my food allergies had been shared extensively with the kitchen staff. This made for a very relaxed journey onboard and we could appreciate this extraordinary adventure to the fullest. A few weeks later we embarked on a classic Mekong River journey with another line which had a great reputation. While we enjoyed this experience, it could not compare to the magical trip we had on the Irrawaddy.

In March 2016, we returned to Myanmar and embarked on another Pandaw adventure. For 14 days on the Pandaw II we explored more areas of this enchanting country and river. Our travelling companions came from a wide range of backgrounds, making this trip even more interesting, rewarding and lots of fun from the time we boarded until we parted company! Once again, we met Stuart on the ship and we immediately knew that we would be well looked after. Another familiar face was Peter, our bartender from the Kindat who welcomed us warmly. We really felt like part of a special family.

As I write this, I am planning and packing for our March 2017 getaway from the Canadian winter. Our little family is again going to explore Southeast Asia and a Pandaw adventure is on the itinerary. On March 4th, we will be starting a ten day journey in Laos and we are so looking forward to it. As a real bonus, a couple from our March 2016 trip will also be there will be ABBA again! (which was referred to in another testimonial).

In closing, I would like to thank you for the wonderful, authentic journeys that Pandaw offers and hope we may have many more opportunities to explore your world.

In appreciation,
Solveig Lalla, Krishna Lalla & Lindsay Isaac-Lalla

Mar 2015


Dear Paul,

I recently completed my second cruise with Pandaw (the first up the Mekong and the Irrawaddy a week ago). I want to express my thanks to you and your staff for another great experience. Your staff are so well trained and everything just seems to tick along without a fuss.

Your efforts in getting tourism up and running in Myanmar are also to be commended. From the number of cruise boats on the Irrawaddy you have obviously pioneered a whole new industry for the country. I worked in Myanmar in 1990/91 (oil & gas exploration). I was great to see how tourism has developed since then.

We are already planning our next trip with Pandaw.

A few minor things that could be improved:

a) Pursur or guides to have maps of towns where the bikes are used. We had a bit of trouble finding our way around.

b) Link the main invoicing system to the Pursur's records on the boat. We had a $50 credit (bike booking refund) on the main invoice to use for on board expenses. The Pursur had no record of this. Not a big problem as we had a copy of our main invoice and he accepted our word on this.

kind regards
Geoff Cocks

Mar 2015


I have just returned to the UK having been on the Pandaw Irrawaddy river cruise from Yangon to Mandalay.

I really did not know what to expect, only hoped for the best. The standard of care and attention started as our taxi arrived at jetty in Yangon and remained at this exceptional high standard until we got into our taxi leaving the cruise in Mandalay 14 days later.

I am so impressed with the service your team provided l would not hesitate to recommend Pandaw ,and hope to holiday with you again soon.

Angela Bamford
A very satisfied customer

Mar 2015


Dear Mr. Strachan,

I have just returned home after a 14 day Pandaw 11 cruise (5/3/16), and what a rewarding experience I enjoyed. Your senior staff and crew could not be faulted for their endless cheerfulness and willingness to help and attend our every need. Pandaw 11 is a delight and so so comfortable, and the dining staff headed by talented chefs delighted at every meal. Every expedition revealed another fascinating facet of life in this very complex country, and I was quite overawed by the might and the variety of life both on and off the river. We had an excellent mix of passengers and a couple of memorable nights when the sounds of "ABBA" rang all over the ship, and on the beach cocktail night we managed to get many of the crew, including the Captain , up and dancing. Perhaps you have already heard about that! My congratulations to you and your company for the contribution to the communities, and a huge thankyou to the crew of Pandaw 11...I very much hope that there will be another cruise in the not too far distant future.

Julia Caroline Ross (Carol)

Mar 2016


Hi Paul,

We recently took the Golden Land cruise - I think the last one for the year. It was absolutely brilliant. We have been in the tourism industry for over 40 years and know how hard it is deliver great product. Well done. Your staff are fantastically trained and especially impressive with their ability and willingness to react to customer needs as and when required. This is one of the hardest service cultures to build in a team. Well done.

I know there is a lot of competition on the river now but the authenticity of your product and the warmth and professionalism with which it is delivered are great points of difference.

All the best
Janet and Alan Collingwood

Mar 2016


Wow! What an awesome cruise. I must say that the Pandaw Kindat had the happiest and most satisfied passengers we have run across. Kudos got the amazing staff whose attention to detail was phenomenal. The tours were excellent and the variety of activities well planned with various means of transportation plus and mixing crafts with temples.

Mar 2016


Hi Angie

I'm back safe and sound from my Burmese adventure, and just wanted to drop you a line to say how very pleased I was with the trip. It all went so smoothly, from your excellent travel arrangements, to the collection to and from the lovely Mandalay Hotel and on to the boat.

Throughout my seven-night stay on the Kindat Pandaw the staff were superlative in every way - considerate, kind, humorous, patient and always helpful. The level of care was outstanding, and the guide who toured with us throughout the trip, Yen, was excellent in every way. The excursions were fascinating and well thought through, and the Burmese people incredibly open, hospitable and friendly.

The comfort of the cabins on the boat was perfect - excellent aircon, spotless hygiene, fresh flowers, unlimited water and comfortable beds, a true home from home. And as for the food - well, suffice it to say that I put on half a stone as I was unable to resist the lovely local tastes and my daily full English breakfast!

So all in all, a wonderful trip and my thanks go to you all for making it so good.

Kind regards

Mar 2016


My wife and I have recently enjoyed yet another set of adventures with Pandaw Cruises, in March 2016: a pre-cruise tour of Yunnan Province (LTC2), a Mekong China downstream cruise (CH-002), and a post-cruise tour of the Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand (LTTH1).

Firstly we want to congratulate your staff on surmounting a number of difficulties brought about by the low river level which prevented the RV Laos Pandaw vessel from travelling up to Jinghong. The arrangements made by Joost and staff to accommodate us in the Empark Grand Hotel, to organise excursions in and around Jinghong, and to secure vessels to transport us downstream to the Laos Pandaw, were remarkable and compensated for our disappointment in not joining the Laos Pandaw in Jinghong.

The pre-cruise tour of Yunnan Province beginning in Kunming and concluding with a flight from Lijiang was wonderful. Guides, drivers, busses, hotels, and itinerary were all excellent.

When we arrived in Jinghong we were surprised to find that we would be staying there for some time. We guessed that it was the low river level of the upper Mekong that was the problem. How we were to get to the RV Laos Pandaw was a mystery. Those in our party of 18 who were seasoned travellers with Pandaw accepted the situation and enjoyed our time in Jinghong, especially the spectacular cultural show at the theatre one night. We also enjoyed shopping at the night markets. You can imagine our delight when, on day 3 in Jinghong, Joost explained that he had arranged two boats to take us down-river from Jinghong to meet the RV Laos Pandaw the next day. That trip was fascinating, and a marvel of organisation. We suppose the hiring of these boats would have cost Pandaw considerable sums of money, but we would recommend these modes of transport be incorporated in future Upper Mekong cruises if similar river level problems beset the RV Laos Pandaw. The second vessel, equipped with furniture from the RV Laos Pandaw, plus a Pandaw cook, whilst not a luxury craft, provided us with an adventure we won't easily forget. And we saw all the river we were supposed to see in the original itinerary.

Once aboard the Laos Pandaw we all enjoyed the usual attention to our needs which your Company provides, and had a lovely 4 days on the river, with interesting excursions.

Barbara and I much appreciated the efforts of the cruise director on RV Laos Pandaw to rescue our photographs by means of his computer and his purchase of a memory stick for us.

The post-cruise tour of the HillTribes of northern Thailand with "Nun" as our guide was great. Some adventures such as the bamboo rafting on the Kok River, and the following elephant safari, would have been daunting for people less able than we were.

Yours sincerely,
Rollo and Barbara Kiek. Victoria, Australia.

Mar 2016


Dear Paul,

We thought we would send you a brief note to let you know what a wonderful experience we had on the RV Mekong Pandaw. All the crew gave excellent service providing a real team effort in order to make sure we were able to gain the most out of the cruise. The overall comfort level and the quality of food was excellent throughout the week. When asking other passengers if they would consider taking another cruise with Pandaw the response was "yes, most definitely".

Best wishes
Bob & Barbara Hackman

Feb 2016


Dear Paul,

My wife (74) and I (79) have just returned from the 9-19 Feb cruise on Laos Pandaw. We absolutely loved the new ship and the cruise. The design is very clever, comfortable and attractive. The staff were without exception brilliant, welcoming, friendly, and cheerful. My wife who is awaiting a knee replacement has some movement restriction at the moment and the crew quickly spotted this and one or two crew members would appear at the drop of a hat to assist her especially going up and down river banks, stairs etc. She was very appreciative of this.

The staff were all brilliant, from the delightful Captain, (busy learning English from the Purser!) to the dining-room and bar staff who very quickly learned our individual tastes and were charming. The programme was the perfect balance between rest and relaxation and interesting visits.

When we unfortunately touched the bottom and had to change a propeller we were particularly impressed with the way everyone mucked in to help, including the chefs!

Adjustments to the programme due to things like fog were smoothly achieved. The programme was then curtailed due to the water level continuing to drop, and the way in which the Pursers calmly reorganised the rest of the programme was extremely impressive. Transport, hotel bookings and a new programme in Vientiane were all miraculously produced, despite limited facilities and communications, without any apparent fuss. We have nothing but praise for your ship, crew and organisation.

In conclusion may I congratulate you on a splendid ship, cruise and organisation which provided us with one of our best holidays ever. My only concern now at our age is how much longer we can go on enjoying such treats!

With best wishes,
Tim & Diana Goetz

Feb 2016


My husband and I had the most memorable trip cruising the Irrawaddy on the Kindat Pandaw. Our accommodations were luxuriously comfortable, the food inventive and fabulous, the staff kind and attentive. But it is the memory of the glorious and graceful movement of the boat steaming through the wide muddy waters, Shan hills in the background, rice paddies dotting the shores, gleaming golden and white pagodas and stupas nestled high and low along the banks, that I carry with me each day. It was a phenomenal introduction to the beautiful country of Myanmar. We are anxious to take another adventure on the Pandaw fleet! Robyn Waters, Excelsior, MN.

Kind regards,
Robyn Waters

Feb 2016


The trip was great! Pandaw is an excellent company and I would go on another of their cruises in a heartbeat.

Food was good, crew was attentive, cabins very large and lots of deck area to sit and watch the river. I liked the pace of the day- 7-9 breakfast, 9-11:30ish morning expedition, lunch at 12:30, 3-4:30ish afternoon expedition, cocktails at 6:30, 7:15 briefing, dinner at 7:30 and an evening program at 9pm. Plenty of downtime and together time.

The Kindat Pandaw could hold 36 people and we only had 24 people. 24 for one tour guide was about the maximum size. Any more than that and you wouldn't be able to see or hear.

Feb 2016


The boat was a real treat, well designed for its purpose, beautifully outfitted with teakwood everywhere (including the shower door), plenty of storage, our own AC, contemporary bathroom fixtures, great mattresses and linens. Very comfy. The food was superb and plentiful with a salady buffet and a main course buffet. The dishes were a nice mix of the familiar and the exotic (morning glory tempura and good brown bread). Breakfasts were fruits, breads and choices from a menu that included some of the best oatmeal I've had and lots of egg dishes, pancakes, french toast, even eggs benedict. The crew almost outnumbered the passengers and were uniformly professional and attentive.

On the last night aboard, the crew ran the boat onto a sand bar and set up a complete beach party for us including twinkling lights, a bonfire, a music system that played rock (Hotel California!?), a bar from which we were served cocktails and a barbeque to make us delicious appetizers. Then back aboard for dinner and a musical performance that was top notch if you could stand the music.

Feb 2016


Dear Mr. Strachan

My wife and I were on The New Golden Land cruise from February 24 to March 5 sailing from Mandalay to Yangon and the trip was exceptional. Ive written a review on TripAdvisor and won’t repeat that here but I do want to compliment to you the on board staff and the guides. High level excellence all the way around. Thanks to you and Pandaw for a wonderful trip.

Gerry Martin
Terrace, British Columbia

Jan 2016


Dear Mr Strachan,

I have recently returned from a trip on RV Kalaw, from Bagan to Mandalay. As you ask for some feedback, here it is.

The ship is beautiful, well fitted-out and the shower/bathroom fittings are very up to date. All the wood and brass are cared for and everything gleams.

The crew are just magnificent. Purser Zaw made it his business to be sure everyone was being looked after, always with a smile. The "non-hotel" staff (i.e. the captain and his crew) didn't speak as much English as the "hotel" staff, but were nevertheless helpful and welcoming: we had a visit to the bridge when the echo sounder was in progress - one of the crew with his pole, calling off the marks. Everyone was kind and seemed happy to be of service, and this was most notable when we embarked or disembarked along the way. I made the mistake of asking to hold back on one return so that I could photograph behind the local pagoda, not realising that I would be keeping seven staff waiting to welcome me back on board. Most embarrassing!

I gather that our guide, San, was not a crew member but a freelance, but I urge you to keep his services as long as possible - he made the whole experience wonderful, was very knowledgeable and knew how to share that knowledge without overwhelming us. With a small group like ours (23 passengers) he took the trouble to let each of us do some of the things not on the programme: I particularly wanted to photograph sunrise in Bagan from a temple terrace, and he personally rose early to take me to a great spot.

I'm afraid I can't think of a single complaint about Pandaw, except that I had to leave and come home.

Best wishes
Margaret Berry

Jan 2016


We've recently returned from a trip to Myanmar which included a your 10 day "Bagan and Upper Irrawaddy" (14 Jan- 24 Jan) cruise, what a wonderful experience. Your boat "Zawgyi" was a splendid "hotel" and provided the most ideal way to seen the country and life by the river. Our accommodation and boat facilities were super and the food your chefs turned out, from such a cramped kitchen, was excellent in terms of choice, quality and presentation.

The one thing that really stood out over the duration of the trip was the crew and the way they all worked together to make the trip so special and memorable. They really worked as a team, all mixing in and doing whatever was necessary regardless of their apparent job. When the trip got delayed they shuffled the schedule so that we didn't miss anything and the captain and his boat crew worked very very long days to ensure we recovered lost time, including sending the pilot boat into the evening darkness to find us a safe route. Not surprisingly some of the crew didn't speak much English but we still managed to communicate adequately using "international sign language" and the abiding memory will be of their endless beaming smiles, everyone of them played an important part and played it so well.

As a company you provided a great holiday package but you should be particularly proud of your crew, the whole crew, for the efficient and cheery way they delivered it to make our holiday so special and truly memorable. Thank you.

Stephen & Julia

Jan 2016


Dear Sven

We wanted to get in touch with you regarding our recent cruise on the RV Mekong Pandaw.

The trip that we took was an unforgettable experience, largely due to the professionalism of the staff onboard, and the service that they provided.

Our compliments to Pandaw, and especially to the staff that was onboard. They did a great job, and you should be very, very proud of them. Please let them know that they were a very large part of making this a memorable vacation.

We are both business owners in the service industry, and we are always on the lookout for companies from which we can learn more to improve our own approaches to customer service. Pandaw’s approach to how to treat guests is one that many companies can take notes from, and we wish that more people could have the experience that we had.

We thoroughly enjoyed this vacation; in fact, it exceeded our expectations, and as seasoned travelers, that is not easy to do. You can expect to hear from us again, as we fully intend to book another cruise with Pandaw.

Best regards,
Bill and Michelle Hammons

Dec 2015


Dear Mr. Strachan:

I wanted to give you additional feedback on our recent 7-day cruise on the RV Kalay Pandaw down the Chindwin. We are frequent visitors to Myanmar and were enticed on a Pandaw cruise to visit an area of the country not easily accessible otherwise. While I confess we had some reservations (being in close confines with 8 other passengers for 7 days being one of them), we were blown away – mostly everything exceeded our expectations, including our fellow passengers. The ship which I understand you had built for your own use, is very comfortable and kept in immaculate condition – we stayed in the owner’s suite which we loved. You can be very proud of the ship’s team led by our purser Win Myo. Win and his able assistant Maing provided unobtrusive and simply excellent service at every turn. In his unassuming and low-key manner Win ensured that his passengers’ various expectations were met and that everyone was onboard with the plan for the day.

The rest of the crew were kind and helpful and my husband who has a bad leg truly appreciated their discretion and their willingness to assist whenever necessary. I read your book with great interest while lounging on the deck between excursions and understanding the challenges this poses in a country like Myanmar, I can tell you that your customer service/hotel senior managers have done an outstanding job in training the teams to provide 5-star service. It seemed impossible that these beautifully prepared and presented meals were coming out of that small kitchen. Win’s Shan tea salads and all the seafood dishes (including the Prawn Burger) were stand-outs for me. There were nothing but rave reviews about the food from all 9 passengers, including the one vegetarian among us. The New Year’s party on a sandbank with dancing to 50s music was a blast by the way.

Finally we were grateful to have San Lin Tun as a guide – he is very knowledgeable, well-spoken and the consummate professional - overall my husband and I both rate him as the best guide we’ve had in Myanmar or anywhere else for that matter. The excursions were all very well chosen – for us the visits to Kanee and the Phowin Taung Caves were highlights. Mingkin was very interesting although we thought its comparison to Luang Prabang and Bagan by some to be bit of a stretch.

I offer some suggestions for your consideration. The weather on the Chindwin can be quite cool in the early morning and evening so blankets to keep warm on the deck would be appreciated. Also the pre-departure literature should mention that warm clothing is required. Some of us would have brought additional warm clothing. Merchandising suggestion – books are excellent but you would also do well with polo shirts and sweaters and caps.

In summary we greatly enjoyed our first Pandaw expedition and we look forward to experiencing another one on our next trip to our beloved Myanmar.


Nov 2015


Dear Mr Strachan

This journey on the Chindwin was our fourth river trip with Pandaw, the third being in Borneo. As always, it was the most wonderful seven nights. We loved the small Pandaw and the fact that we had access to both the port and starboard sides from our excellent cabin. But, above all, we were so impressed by the usual superb Pandaw service. The Purser, Wyn Myo, is an absolute star and did absolutely everything to make sure we were looked after. I am quite sure you know what a gem you have there. He is thoughtful, efficient, organised, knowledgeable and charming. We all (we were travelling with another couple who have also Pandawed with us on all our trips) could not praise him more and we became very fond of him. But all the crew were outstanding and, despite the language difficulties on our part, had great fun with them on outings. They were at all times hugely helpful and dignified and patient.

But the food! Goodness knows where you found the two chefs! Everything we ate was delicious, with the terrific Burmese flavours we all love. The presentation was of the standard one gets at Michelin starred restaurants - probably better! It all looked stunning. Completely memorable.

Please let Win Myo know how much we appreciated him. It was such a very 'happy ship'. We miss them all (and that food .....).

I much enjoyed your book on the Pandaw Story. Quite a story!

Yours sincerely
Vanessa (and Peter) Davis

Nov 2015


Dear Mr Strachan

I know that you have already received a hugely glowing report from Vanessa Davis but, as we are the other lucky couple who have enjoyed your wonderful Pandaw cruises, I want to add my few words of thanks to your amazing staff.

It was so obviously such a happy team lead by Win Myo and they couldn't have done more to ensure that we had the most relaxing and enjoyable time. And Wyn is certainly a jewel in the Pandaw crown!

And as for the chefs....well, each meal was a total delight and SO beautifully presented. It was with a heavy heart that we had to say au revoir at Homelin. I hope you will pass our thanks and comments to Win.

With best wishes
Minnie and Anthony Greayer

Nov 2015


Dear Marek

I was not sure who to write to at Pandaw, but I was keen to write to you on behalf of myself and my husband following our cruise on the Katha Pandaw that finished on 8 November in Mandalay.

As you are probably aware, early on the morning of 8 November 2015, our cruise boat became grounded on a sandbank in the Irrawaddy. Although the ship's crew made innumerable attempts to get the boat off the sandbank, we were stuck on the sandbank for around 10 hours. As three of us on the boat needed to get back to Mandalay by that evening in order to get our flights out of Mandalay for our next destination, my husband and I and the third passenger, John, were very pleased with the service and care provided by Pandaw Cruises in ensuring that we were picked up by an Irrawaddy fast river boat that was heading downstream towards Mandalay. The Pandaw also organised for one of the crew to accompany us on the fast boat to ensure that we were looked after and that we were picked up by our taxi to transfer to our respective hotels in Mandalay. We would especially to thank the crew member who looked after us so well on our adventure back to Mandalay.

We were very pleased with the exceptional service proved by the Pandaw Cruises, and we would like to express our thanks to Pandaw, and to the company management, and especially to the crew on-board our boat for the care and kindness shown to us.

We had a wonderful time and many memorable experiences on on Mandalay-Katha-Second Defile cruise, and Harry was a great guide for us. Could you please express our thanks to Harry?

We have just boarded the Laos Mekong this morning and we are looking forward to our next adventure up the Mekong with Pandaw Cruises.

With many thanks and kind regards
Dr Frances Cunningham & Maurice Paul Collis

Nov 2015


Dear Bo Bo,

A few lines, somewhat belated but nonetheless sincere, to express an enormous THANK YOU to you and the entire crew of the Kindat Pandaw for making our river cruise so enjoyable. Everyone loved every minute of their time on board and we all felt so pampered by your wonderful staff, for whom nothing was too much trouble.

We also very much appreciated your so miraculously retrieving Mrs. NEUENSCHWANDER's optical sun glasses. Easia Travel played their part in collecting them in Yangon and arranging for them to be handed over to the lady at the airport. As you can imagine, she was absolutely thrilled, as she really thought she had lost them for ever. A huge THANK YOU to you and your housekeeping team for your detective work and prompt action!

Thank you too for letting us use your laptop, which made translating the menus and daily programmes so easy.

You do a fantastic job, Bo Bo, and you and your team are to be congratulated. Keep up the good work! We will not hesitate to recommend Pandaw River Expeditions and hope very much to have the opportunity of sailing with Pandaw again in the not too distant future.

We wish you personally continued success and don't forget, that if ever you make the long journey to Europe, you have an open invitation to stay with us at our hotel.

Thank you again for everything and all good wishes,
Hermann & Marion

Nov 2015



Here is a sampling of the messages from my group! The tour was better than I expected! Everything went smoothly, from start to finish, except for the cancelling of the hot-air ballooning.

You did a great job, Pannir. You followed up with all the details which made our a trip a Success! We all enjoyed the cruise especially. There were only 24 psgrs. So it was friendly and cozy group. Our cruise/tour guide was excellent. In fact, all the tour guides were attentive and accommodating. The hotels were wonderful, more modern than we had thought. We loved the Sule Shangri-la. The last night there was the perfect finale, along with your dinner.

I could go on and on, but I am jet-lagged.

From Audrey Sidney:

Just wanted to let you know that I arrived home safely around 9 am Thursday. It was a great trip and even more so being with fellow travelers such as each of you. Each of us have wonderful memories of Mynamar and we all know more about the country. We need to find out the results of the election. Wow! We saw so many of the temples. I look forward to having another trip with each of you. Thanks to Flo for all her efforts in planning this trip, for the message, the farewell dinner from Pannier, for arranging the visas and tips for guides and bus drivers, for the use of the airport lounge, etc. Take care and keep in touch! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Nov 2015


Read this article on

Nov 2015


Mr Strachan, my wife and I have just returned from a 7 night cruise on the Mekong Pandaw and it was the highlight of the holiday. The attention to the smallest detail and the friendliness of the crew made the whole trip such a delight. We were even presented with a cake to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary which as lovely thought. The shore excursions were interesting and varied and we saw some of the poverty that exists in Cambodia. It was good to see Pandaw helping out in the local communities and putting something back.

The whole crew were amazing from the dining room staff, [who loved having a joke with us] to the chefs, [who provided the wonderful and varied food] to the housekeeping staff, [who kept our rooms so clean] and ,of course,.. the lovely barman [ who always remembered what you drank]. So to pick one member of the crew out for special praise was not easy but it just had to be the Purser, Rorn Saroun who ran a ' tight ship'. He was always keeping an eye on things and nothing seemed to escape his attention. He was often in the background but his organisational ability was always evident. In particular when we had a problem getting back to the boat after heavy rain he was the one coordinating things with our guide on the bus!

I can't think of anything much you could do to improve things but if they do decaf coffee in Indo China it would be good to have some on board?

Do keep up the good work and I wish you continued success.

Kind regards
David Williams

PS I was part of the cruise where all the passengers wore their Pandaw kimonos to dinner on the last night. I am sure you will hear about that as even the Captain had to come and take a look!!

Reply from Pandaw

Dear Mr and Mrs Williams

Thank you for writing to me and I am so glad your Mekong cruise went well and that Purser Saroun and his team looked after you. Congratulations on your 30th Anniversary - you certainly chose the best place to celebrate it. I will pass on your kind words to Saroun and all the team.

I am sorry there was no decaffe. Normally there should at least be a jar of instant. I will remind them, thanks for telling me!

Best wishes for future trips!

Nov 2015


Dear Sven

I would like to thank you most sincerely for the opportunity of joining Pandaw for the Cruise along the Mekong.

The journey itself was magical, the sights en-route quite mesmerising and the service on board was absolutely second to none.

The staff were courtesy and attentive and took every step to make the journey memorable for all the passengers, their attention to detail seemed quite effortless but it is apparent just how much work goes on behind the seems to creative this effect.

Please pass my thanks to them for such a wonderful journey.

The food was delightful and the cabin very comfortable.

Thank you for the very special memories I now hold.

With many thanks and kind regards,

Nov 2015


Hello Paul,

November 21st 2015 my husband and I (second time Pandaw travellers), my brother and sister-in-law ( forth time Pandaw travellers) and 6 of our friends embarked on the Pandaw Laos at Chiang Sean. The next 10 days we were looked after, fed and spoilt by your staff, what a great trip, so unspoilt by other tourists, so relaxing, so peaceful, we all loved it.

We are cattle producers in Australia so the rural views especially appealed to us and we appreciated our local guides information when we didn't know what some crops were.

Matthew may have been young and inexperienced in this area but he worked so hard and nothing was a problem. We could not praise him enough.

We are now looking at a trip in Burma, my father was a POW in Chiangi and worked on the Burma Railway and was sent home from Rangoon on liberation of the allies at the end of World War II so we think this is somewhere we would like to visit and how better to see this area than from the luxury of Pandaw. All our friends are keen for more.

Also I must tell you how much we enjoyed the food, your Chefs were amazing, 10 days of different , delicious and the freshest food we could ask for. Incredible from such a small work space.

Look forward to many more memorable holidays aboard Pandaw.

Narelle and Trevor Petith


Response from Pandaw

Dear Narelle and Trevor

Thank you so much for writing to me and I am glad that the Laos expedition went well. I am so glad it all worked out and that you had a relaxing but interesting time. I am glad that Matthew took good care of you all and that food was good.

I was interested to read about your family connection with Burma. Your father must have been through some horrendous experiences. If you liked Laos you will like Burma and I would recommend one of our more remote routings like the Upper Irrawaddy which is similar in feel to Laos. Please make sure to register on our website so you get all the latest information and offers too.

Best wishes for future travels and hope to see you again on one of the Pandaws before too long!

All kind regards,
Paul Strachan

Nov 2015


Just got back into Hanoi after our wonderful cruise on Angkor Pandaw. I really can't express how superb it was. The boat was so unique, the staff very special and the tours went to villages that had not seen western tourists before.

Jarvis & Gillian Ranson

Oct 2015


See the review on trip advisor:

Oct 2015


Hi Angie,

Just a note to say we are safely back home in Hua Hin following our flight from Phnom Penh.

We had a lovely cruise!
The boat is beautiful!
The food was a delight to see and very tasty!
The site seeing was just right.
The passengers we met were charming people.

But, I need to talk about the crew. They were always smiling, helpful, courteous and polite. Questions were answered and requests acted on promptly! It's difficult to single out individuals, but to mention just a few: Mr Long, the tour guide: his memory was incredible he remembered all our names and he had details and dates about all our visits. He is a huge asset to your company. The saloon staff, in particular, Hong & Lak, were very good. The cocktail waiter and his young assistance were smiling fun!

I know from the experience of 40 years with the Royal Navy, that ships only run smoothly if there is a good leader, I have to say that Mr Saroun, the cruise manager, provided this leadership to a very high standard! He is to be commended.

Please also pass our good wishes to our fellow passengers who will be leaving from Saigon on Saturday.

I have had many friends, both here and in UK, who have been asking about the cruise and Pandaw, rest assured, my feedback to them will be one hundred percent positive.

Kind regards,
David & Mon, Thailand

Oct 2015


Dear Saroun

Wow....! Just wanted to say a huge thank you for the wonderful service on my recent trip on the MV Pandaw. Your knowledge, service, efficiency, helpfulness and humour was very much appreciated. It was really great to have some chats with you and learn more about your family, your life and your second family – Pandaw.

One of my highlights was visiting one of the local villages and dancing with the children. Such happy faces. The other highlight was visiting the schools and seeing the commitment of the teachers and the students that want to improve their future.

Our guides were all excellent. Lee is a true asset to Pandaw, very knowledgeable. Long was wonderful, funny, committed and was able to share true stories regarding the Killing Fields. It astounds me that I was able to see the smiling, happy faces considering what Cambodians have endured in the past. I hope life will improve for these wonderful people. I wish you and your family the very best.

As travel agents, we do get very well looked after on our educational trips, however, I believe all the guests onboard felt very special and looked after. I feel so confident to offer Cambodia and Vietnam to our clients as a truly enlightening experience.

The little touches such as bottles of water when leaving for day tours, cold face towels and cleaning of shoes were all exceptional. The fact that the staff were cutting out steps into the mud embankments was beyond belief. I don’t know of any other company/staff that would do this for their guests.

Every single staff member was wonderful. We all loved Pha, his smile was so genuine and always so polite. It was so relaxing to go to the Sun Deck and have a cocktail and chat with other guests. Housekeeping, kitchen staff, waiters, and all those behind the scenes were fabulous. I cant talk highly enough of them.

I have now come to believe that Cambodians are truly the most beautiful people. The locals in the villages that we visited were so happy to see us and regardless of the fact that they had so little, were always smiling and welcoming. The staff onboard MV Pandaw had smiles that were infectious and the hospitality was second to none.

I am hoping to travel to Cambodia again and bring my children with me for them to experience true happiness and humbleness of the Cambodian people.

As I mentioned to you, I would like to send some items (books, pens, pencils etc) that you can provide to some of the schools and villages that we visited. If this is possible, could you please advise the best address to send these to. I know you will ensure these go to the correct people that will appreciate the assistance.

It was great to meet you and your staff. Many thanks for making this trip truly memorable. I will never forget this special journey. Please pass my regards to your staff and if allowed, I would love to make contact with them so if you can pass on email addresses, phone numbers or facebook details, I would greatly appreciate this. I know you are very busy with the new destination Laos but if you have time, please send me an email.

Looking forward to seeing you again in the future.

Thanks and regards,
Vivienne Zaarour

Oct 2015


Hi Angela,

Just let you know the return journey went very well. I was a little worried but all was well.

The cruise was fabulous and I documented it on Facebook for friends. They said I should do travel documentaries! Anyway,needless to say I think you may have some future cruisers.

I can't praise the crew highly enough. One charming waitress almost gave her sole attention,she is delightful. The purser was excellent. They were all great

Ed Barry

Oct 2015


Good Afternoon John & Huong,

What can I say, except WOW!!!

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to experience Vietnam & Cambodia the Pandaw way. I was lucky enough to take away 6 of our partners for an amazing 13 days.

On arrival we were greeted by KAI at Ho Chi Minh City airport and transferred to the InterContinental Asiana Saigon Hotel, the hotel and facilities were lovely and of course a great breakfast to start the day. KAI was great, we had a full day sightseeing in Saigon and visited the Cuchi Tunnels.

Next morning onto the beautiful RV Mekong Pandaw, we were greeted by the wonderful staff, smiling, friendly and happy to see us all, this never changed once whilst on the ship. The staff were amazing, all 31 of them. Nothing was too much trouble, our cabins were lovely, very spacious, great air con and shower (this was very appreciated after our shore excursions).

Saroun our ships Purser was fantastic, very professional, always kept us updated with announcements and always had time to talk with all the guests. All the staff were fantastic, they knew everyone’s names, Pha our bartender remembered everyone’s drinks, and of course the shore excursions were interesting. Our guides were LEE in Vietnam and LONG in Cambodia, both were very informative, they also remembered all guests names.

Two of the highlights onboard were when we stopped at a village late one afternoon for Happy Hour with the locals, the ship pulled up onto the bank of the river and the staff got out and dug some steps into the riverbank so we could get off, the local Cambodian people were surprized to see us, Saroun said they had not visited this village before and we had canapés, drinks and danced with the locals on the riverbank at sunset, what an experience. The other highlight was on the last night ALL the staff came up to the sundeck and we were able to Thank them together and then we danced before dinner (Tommy has some great moves – he was like Jim Carey – hilarious), of course the whole cruise was a highlight, such a beautiful way to see both countries.

We then had to leave the beautiful RV Mekong Pandaw, this was sad, we all had tears in our eyes as we waved goodbye to our new friends, we had met such wonderful people, both staff and guests. Our journey to Siem Reap by coach was comfortable and then checking into the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa, this hotel also had lovely facilities and breakfast. Our guide for Siem Reap, BUNN was waiting for us and we had the afternoon sightseeing and then the following day we visited Angkor Wat, this was beautiful and also more sightseeing that afternoon, we did have time to fit in a bit of shopping before dinner and a visit to the Phare Ponieu Selpak Circus, they are a very talented troupe and the venue was packed, great news they will be travelling to Paris to perform.

Our drivers for transfers and sightseeing were always waiting, they were friendly and we felt safe travelling, the Tour Guides were very informative and spoke English well.

Thank You again for this wonderful experience, all 7 of us had a fantastic time.

Kind Regards,
Linda Elliott

Oct 2015


Blog in German:

Oct 2015


Dear Mr Strachan,

My wife and I just returned this morning from our fourth Pandaw trip, this time on the Kalay on the Chindwin.

I can recommend this ship highly - and its crew. When saying farewell, I got our guide to translate for me, to tell them that in English we say "small is beautiful", and so was the Kalay. We were particularly impressed by the Purser, U Win Myo, who was a gem; also one particular crew member who was the exact double of the comedian Michael Macintyre, even to the hairstyle and cheeky grin, albeit a trifle more suntanned. All crew were splendid. They paid me the compliment of calling me "Aba" or "Babar".

My wife wondered whether you, or your wife, might be considering producing a Pandaw Cookbook?

Tim Tawney

Response from Pandaw

Dear Tim

Many thanks for writing to me about your recent river expedition. I am so glad it went well for you.

I have passed on your good wishes to purser, guide and crew who will much appreciate your praise.

Otherwise, many thanks for coming with us and I hope we will see you again on a Pandaw one day.

Good idea for a cook book!

Please do consider supporting The Pandaw Charity, which is registered in the UK. We are now running 12 clinics with a total of 5,000 treatments a month. We are currently raising funds for a new X ray machine for our central clinic at Pagan. You can donate online at:

Unless you have any objections I will post your letter on our Feedback pages so potential travellers can learn from your experiences.

Many thanks for coming with us and I hope we will see you again on a Pandaw one day.

With all regards,
Paul Strachan

Oct 2015


We just returned from our cruise in Myanmar on the Chindwin river on the RV Kalay and was absolute fantastic The flight to Homalin got canceled due to mechanical problems and they only fly sat and tue so went back to the Hotel in Mandalay Hill resort for 1 night which Pandaw paid for Then we drove to Bagan for a 3 days crusie on the RV Orient we were 4 people and the service was outstanding Then they drove us back to Mandalay and flew on tue to Homalin for the rest of our tripIt was absolute amazing and the crew and food was excellent. You handled the situation fabulous. Will be back.

Thank you again
Steve and Maria Bozec

Oct 2015


Dear Sven

I have just returned home after 10 wonderful days on the RV Katha Pandaw cruising from Pagan to the Upper Irrawaddy. This is my second Pandaw cruise but my first in Myanmar and I would like to thank the captain, crew and tour guide of the RV Katha Pandaw for making this first visit to Myanmar such a wonderful experience.

The crew were so professional, caring and kind to me (a single traveller) and our tour guide, Willy, most informative on our excursions ashore. He soon discovered that my interest was in Botany and would point out and name all the local plants along the way.

On my last morning on board the RV Katha, I woke early and sat on the upper deck listening to the chanting of the monks and the stirrings of daily life on the Irrawaddy. I thought about the wonderful past 10 days, all the wonderful places we had seen, how lucky I had been to have such a good bunch of travel companions and the special care from all the crew.

And my special friend, U Naing Naing Win, who gave me the gift of true kindness during our many excursions ashore. He was at my side, literally, every step of the way, and shared with me his fried crickets (yummy) and delicious noodles in the market at Katha on my birthday.

Please thank them all for the lovely memories. Jay-zu-ding-ba-de.

With kind regards
Daw Chau (Auntie Sweetie)

Jane Bell
Canberra, Australia

Oct 2015


Good morning.

We have just completed the Pagan and Upper Irrawaddy river cruise which started on October 22 and it was the most fantastic cruise that we have ever taken.

We could not have asked for anything more on this fabulous cruise, the food was wonderful, the teak boat was beautiful and very comfortable and two staff members made this trip a wonderful experience.

Harry the guide was absolutely exceptional. He was engaging in his conversations and is just a wealth of knowledge concerning his country, culture and values. He truly made this experience a memorable one.

The other member was Myo. He has a good sense of hospitality and is a dedicated individuals in all his activities. As a result of a family emergency, Myo had replaced the chief purser and truly did a good job and I strongly believe that he has all the skills necessary to undertake this job full time and will be quite successful at it.

Thank you for making this trip truly exceptional for us.


Oct 2015


Dear Huong

My wife and I travelled on the 10 night Bagan to Upper Irrawaddy cruise aboard the Katha Pandaw from 22nd October – 1st November and we would like to express to you our absolute delight in all aspects of the trip. The boat was everything we had hoped, beautifully maintained and very comfortable, the itinerary very interesting and the food absolutely delicious. While all the crew were exemplary in their service and friendliness, we would especially like to single out Myo, the acting pursar, and Harry, our guide, for special mention. These two men absolutely made our trip – Harry for his great knowledge and interest in the history and culture of his country, and Myo for his cheerful disposition and meticulous attention to his guests.

We have already given Pandaw a very strong recommendation to several friends and will continue to do so. Similarly, I have posted a glowing review on Tripadvisor.

Thank you so much for providing us with one of the best trips we’ve ever undertaken and we would be grateful if you would pass on our thanks to all the crew.

Kind regards
John Nicolson

Oct 2015


Dear Huong,

I just wanted to send some feedback on our recent trip on the RV Orient in Myanmar. We were only on board for a two night stay, but the whole team on board were absolutely fantastic. We were very lucky to have the ship practically to our small group with Syder Travel, but I am sure the service would have been just as good if the boat were full. The ship was immaculate. The staff brilliant, and the food and service excellent. I very much hope to join a Pandaw cruise again the very near future.

Kind regards
Stella Dixon

Sep 2015


My husband and I just completed a week cruising the Irrawaddy from Bagan to Mingun/Mandalay on the Kindat Pandaw. We had an absolutely delightful experience. The boat was simply yet elegantly appointed. We had every convenience we could need or want. We met fascinating fellow travelers. Your staff and crew were stellar--the service was impeccable AND kind and friendly. We feel as though we experienced magical Myanmar in the best way possible.

I want to especially compliment our Purser, Bo Bo. He ensured that our travels were beyond our expectations. He took extra care with the older passengers, was always available when needed, and answered all of our questions. His demeanor was professional yet friendly. I hope he goes far with your company!

I would like to comment on the local guides that led our excursions. Unfortunately, their command of the English language was quite poor. All of the passengers (Americans, Brits, Canadians and Australians) had a lot of trouble understanding their comments. The guides were unable to put things into context, tell a compelling story, or even keep a group together, focused, and moving along. On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being excellent, everything about the boat and our cruising experience was a 5+. But I would rate our guides as a 2. They were kind and well-intentioned, just not very effective.

Finally, I have a merchandising suggestion for your company. The second to the last evening we were shown a film of the history of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. It was fascinating, and I would like to inquire as to the possibility of purchasing a copy for personal enjoyment. My husband and I would love to have a copy of the DVD to show our friends at home--I know it would spark interest for others to travel on one of your fleet. I think if you made it available for purchase in the small gift shop on the boat, you would sell one to at least half, if not more, of the passengers. You could make it available for purchase on the rest of your fleet as well. Watching it helped me put together the bits and pieces of history of both The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company AND the beautiful country of Burma in a meaningful way.

One last merchandising suggestion. I think you should sell postcards with a photo of the Kindat Pandaw (actually of all of your passenger boats.) I would have purchased a dozen or more to send home to friends and family (especially the grandkids.). I know my fellow passengers would agree. Think of the marketing that could do for future customers!

Lastly, thank you for your efforts in bringing the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company back to life. It is a wonderful accomplishment, one that helps preserve the beautiful country of Myanmar for future generations. Thank you also for the gift of the book of the history of the company.

We hope to travel again with you at another destination.

Kind regards,
Robyn Waters and Gary Springer
Cruise dates: September 26 through October 3rd, 2015

Sep 2015


Hello Paul

I am writing to thankyou for a wonderful trip we recently had on the Mekong Pandaw upstream from Vietnam. We were a party of 4 couples and our trip left Saigon Saturday 5th September.

We had already been in Vietnam for a week or more travelling from Hanoi To Halong Bay, down to Hoi An and then a few days in Saigon. From the check in to final departure everything was of a very high standard. The bus to My Tho port was of high standard, so too the one to transfer us to Siem Reap. (the 5 hr journey most of us were not looking forward to at all, however it was very comfortable indeed)

I was impressed that the trip went ahead despite not full numbers, we started off with 28 and then 9 left us at Phnom Penh. One of these was John Lloyd? your SE Asian manager who was very helpful with tips and suggestions at each stop. A few of us took the opportunity to offer some suggestions so hope he is able to follow those through.

Above all the staff were so courteous to each person and were very accommodating at each stop.

We did have an elderly lady on board with some mobility issues and your staff went out of their way to help her. Initially she had requested a main deck room with her travel agent, however these were fully booked out at her time of booking. The first morning she had not got up in time for the shore excursion and the staff were worried , as I stayed on board that morning I offered to go to her room with them to check. (She was ok just had found the flights of stairs too much and had slept in) At this stage there were 2 vacant rooms on the main deck and staff offered (after I told the passenger they were vacant) to move her downstairs, which they quickly did.

Throughout the rest of the trip, staff were exceptionally helpful to her. One young female Restuarant staff member would ensure she had enough from the buffet and always got a plate of fruit and sweets for her.

We were very impressed with all shore excursions and extremely well organised. The welcome drink and cold towels a very welcome return to "home". On another day, I stayed on the boat and "welcomed" everyone home by helping to hand out the cold towels, the passengers and staff thought it very funny!

I'm sorry I didn't get all the staff names accurately, but in particular the purser Sorone, the bar staff Monerak and S......?. The girls in the spa and our room staff ??? Linh. She also worked in the laundry and provided us with the fluffiest towels we had in 4 weeks of travel!!

The 2 guides from Vietnam ( Wun) n Cambodia ( Son ) had excellent English and a very good knowledge base. Son was exceptional In helping the elderly passenger rearrange her plans for Siem Reap and was very understanding when some of us checked what he was organising for this passenger.

May I offer some suggestions please (as mentioned to John)
# Can the price be quoted in Aussie $$ for the Australians as it makes it difficult when trying to convert to $ us.
# We were embarrassed when we went on some of the shore excursions especially to the schools, to be aware of the possibility of taking some school Items to donate to the teachers or the school.
# On a previous trip to Vietnam we took an extra suitcase full of suitable items to donate to an orphanage/school and would have been happy to do the same this time.
# We were very impressed with the staff that cut steps into the bank when we went ashore and all the staff were very aware of those passengers (I was one of them) that needed extra assistance when embarking/disembarking.
# The headsets we were provided with were a great idea.

We were very impressed with your company supporting the local library building and the other projects in other country's. All passengers in our group thought this cruise to be the best part of our holiday and will highly recommend your company to others. We will be looking at a trip to Burma in a few years with Pandaw and I wish you success and look forward to future cruise details.

Yours sincerely
Wendy Urquhart
Wagga Wagga

Sep 2015


Hi Tor

We arrived back home

By the way, if you happen to be in touch with Paul Strachan, you may want to mention that the passengers aboard the Angkor Pandaw drank to his good health at our final dinner together on Saturday last.

After I read his book, The Pandaw Story, gaining a full appreciation of all the trials and tribulations that he encounteredwhile developing Pandaw to what it is today, with all the garbage, heartache, and frustrations thrown at him from every direction in theprocess, one can only applaud Paul Strachan's superhuman persistence in creating what has to be a selection of some of the world's greatest travel experiences.

I couldn't let the opportunity pass to raise glasses to him. Everyone agreed noting that because I was the one with more Pandaw travel experience (6 voyages) than anyone on board and really the right person to lead the group in this way.


Sep 2015


Dear Ms. Huong

I would like to thank you for all the special arrangements you made for Don and myself which allowed us to leave the Angkor Pandaw early to catch our flight back to S’pore. We should have stayed in Vietnam a lot longer as the air in S’pore is horribly polluted and will continue to be so for a while!

Everything worked like a charm. The speed boat ride to the mainland was efficient and the taxi ride to Noi Bai uneventful. Peter the purser on board the Angkor Pandaw was always on hand to explain and expedite all our requests and patient with all our concerns. He and the rest of the crew on the boat from the captain down were what made our trip on the Red River so enjoyable and memorable.

Angelia Chua

Sep 2015


Dear Miss Huong,

I just wanted to let you know that my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our 10-day sojourn with the Pandaw Riverboat along the network of rivers which make up the Red River Delta in northern Vietnam. This was an exceptional way to visit a large number of interesting, but remote, Vietnamese villages where we could view traditional handicrafts (such as conical hat making), ancient religious and political sites, and some ethnic communities. We also had a good two days in Hanoi with the Pandaw serving as our "floating hotel". Our guides, Mr. Long and Mr. Tifo, were attentive and informative. I learned quite a lot from them, and found them delightful company.

The quality of the Pandaw experience is excellent. The boat itself is large, spotless, with good lounging areas that offer views of the passing river banks as well as delightful cocktail service. Our room was clean, quiet, and equipped with attached bathroom. Service on board was topnotch and Pandaw staff very comfortable to be with. Dining and meals were excellent, featuring a good range of western and Asian dishes, often in fusion fashion.

This was our second trip with Pandaw, and we would certainly consider another at some time in the future. I’m attaching a couple of pictures that might be of interest.

Donald Huse

Sep 2015


The Kalay Pandaw Nagaland trip was an amazing experience!

To travel to such a remote and fascinating place in the 5 star luxury of the Pandaw ship, eat gourmet food, and have the enthusiasm and professionalism of the crew, is an adventure not to miss! In this day and age of travel, to be one of the first visitors to an unspoiled area, with welcoming and friendly people is a trip that one only dreams of or reads of in books.

Way beyond any expectation that this world traveler could have imagined!

Kathy Heinecke

Aug 2015


Hello from Australia

We filled in Evaluation Forms before we ended our trip, but we wanted to give you a greater level of feedback than was possible on the form.

We loved every bit of the trip. We thought 10 days was a good amount of time for that itinerary. The excursions were excellent, of high interest, especially Mai Chau. The purser, Saroun warned people that some might be worried about the length of the excursion. As a result many people did not join it. Those who did found the travel no problem at all. Perhaps more information, and pictures, or a video of Mai Chau could be shown to show people the aim of the excursion, to show that it was worthwhile. In the extremely hot weather we found that the itinerary of (in most cases) one excursion a day and a half day on board was very appropriate.

We especially want to mention some staff: Peter was an excellent Purser. Always attentive, helpful, calm and able to quietly solve problems. We hope the management of Pandaw understands his great potential.

The kitchen and restaurant staff were all outstanding. One of us has a special diet and it was catered for in an outstanding fashion, actually better than on any previous Pandaw trips we have taken (this was our 4th trip). The housekeeping was also exemplary.

We would particularly like to recommend the local guides, Duoc and Vu. We found them charming, knowledgeable and very alert to passengers’ requirements. They had to deal with two or three difficult passengers and this they did most graciously. We hope we meet them again on future trips.

We hope this feedback is useful to you,
best wishes
Heather Foster and Chris Currey

Aug 2015


We recently returned from the 7 day, classic Mekong cruise on the RV Mekong Pandaw. We wanted to express our thanks to the company and our deep admiration for the staff on the boat who made it truly superb. The boat was brilliant, the staff first rate and the food stunning.

Saroeung and Sokhom leading the team, Sophorn in the dining room, Head Chef Mr Narith and everyone else were simply excellent. Our son has severe food allergies and they all looked after him very well. Also Sreyhong was wonderful in the time she gave to teaching our daughter origami.

We would (and will) highly recommend travelling with Pandaw and we are already planning our next trip. Many thanks and congratulations on creating something terrific.

Paul Christensen

Aug 2015


I would like to thank Pandaw for an excellent experience on my recent cruise from Mandalay to Bagan, the staff and crew were a credit to your company. The guide, San, really made our trip with his detailed knowledge of Myanmar. I shall be travelling again with Pandaw next year and will certainly pass on tales of my very pleasant cruise to all my friends. Thank you Bill Page

Aug 2015


I would like to say how much we enjoyed our Irrawaddy River trip departing Yangon on 2 August. This was our second Pandaw cruise, and once again we were treated like royalty. The crew go out of their way to provide the best care and entertainment, while the guide ensures that it is a learning and rewarding experience. I would recommend Pandaw cruises to anyone, and hope to do more trips in the near future.

Aug 2015


Dear Sven,
We are safely home in Australia where Glenys has had an operation for a detached retina. The outcome is uncertain and we will have to wait two months before she knows what sight will return to her right eye.

We would however like to take this opportunity to commend your company and staff.

This was our third Pandaw trip in Burma, and we were really impressed by our first two experiences. This third trip, albeit cut short, has left us in awe.

When Glenys first realised she had a serious eye problem, Daniel the guide, and Aung the purser, immediately took action.The fact that Pandaw had antibiotic drops on board and that Daniel had clinical knowledge was impressive to say the least. When it became apparent that this wasn't the answer, Daniel managed to find out that there was an eye doctor at Magwe, two days away. As Pandaw got closer we were told if we didn't arrive by 2pm the doctor would no longer be available. Pandaw excelled again as the Captain sped up the boat to ensure we would arrive in time.

Daniel and Aung had a tuktuk waiting and they accompanied us to act as interpreters. We were literally number 47 in the waiting line yet Daniel talked us to the head of the queue. A diagnosis was made but with limited equipment it turned out not to be accurate although we didn't know this at the time. It did give enough clues however to make us realise that we needed to return to Australia immediately.

We were two days from the nearest airport at Bagan but once again Daniel and Aung swung into action. By the time we reached Bagan air flights had been booked and altered. On arrival your Bagan representative met us in his own car, took us to the airport and waited with us until we boarded our flight.

Just as impressive was the fact that the Captain and many of the crew farewelled us as we left the boat.

This is a story of some of the most impressive service we have ever seen. Again we commend all that were involved.

We would appreciate it if you could pass this email on to Paul Strachan.
We are indebted to you all.

Best regards,
Dave and Glenys Benda

Aug 2015


My wife and myself readup on your company, the cruise, the boat and especially the country of Myanmar before selecting this cruise. We also had never contemplated a river cruise before.

Suffice to say, this trip was unbelievable, superb, great, professional, friendly etc etc. There are just not enough superlatives for Pandaw and the experience your crew and operation have given us.

Aung Aung Oo...Great Purser who I believe was the quiet achiever of this trip. I have no doubt that behind the scenes this man worked hard with his staff and arranged details with the locals at every port of call.

Daniel (Htin Gyi)...In all our years of travel this man was the best guide we have ever had. Caring, informative, professional, a great love for his country and a privelage to meet. This man is one in a million. Hang on to him.

All crew from Captain, Cabin attendant, maintenance crew were professional, caring and truly an honour to meet and get to know.

Food....Congratulations to Chef and his team and Waiting staff. Greatl and wonderful food and not once was the menu repeated. Well done.. Barman Jack....brilliant and nothing a problem.

What an experience. Our thanks to all involved.

Pandaw is in our conversation to all our family and friends.

Goodluck and best wishes to all at Pandaw and please pass on this email to all concerned.

Robert and Gayle Berg

Aug 2015


Hello Pandaw crew,
Tom and Marilyn Maher from the U.S. Wish to thank you for one of thebest trips we have ever taken in many years of travel. Everyone wasfriendly, and efficient. The food was wonderful and always presentedbeautifully. Aung Aung Oo, our purser, and Htin Gyi (Daniel) made ourtrip memorable. Thank you again.

The Mahers

Jul 2015


Hi Mr Strachan, had a great trip. Crew of ship and local guide Vu all excellent. Maree O'Born.

Jul 2015


Dear Huong,

We are back home now, and we would like to thank you and the entire Pandaw staff in our boat, for this fantastic experience!!

We have been frequent travellers all our life, but this travel was really a highlight. Your staff in the boat, ALL, were really exceptionally good, friendly, efficient… and any good thing additionally you can think about!! Every day was a new enjoyable journey, and we were even sad to leave the boat at the end of our travel.

We would like to put positive reviews in any website or place you will. Please let us know where/how do you want it.

All the best!!
Sarah and Pablo Rosenthal-Almirall

Apr 2015


A holiday of a lifetime - up their with going on a safari in Kenya. We did this tour with a group of friends and had so much fun, due in large because of the wonderful staff on board the RV Mekong Pandaw. The Ship Purser was a delightful young man full of enthusiasm for his country and it's people, and extremely helpful to us, as was all his staff, and they delighted in showing us as much of their country and their culture as they could. The ship has such an olde worlde feeling to it but boasts all the mod cons. We were treated to wonderful food and friendly well attended service in the dining room. Our cabins were attended to each day as were our shoes when we came back off tour along with a lovely cool napkin and refreshing drink. Each morning and afternoon we would set off on amazing tours visiting temples, villages, schools, 'genuine' fake silver merchants, silk weavers and markets. In fact there was too much to see and do. Each evening we relaxed in comfort and enjoyed the free local spirits that were on offer. We came back home enriched with making many friendships and hoping that we can somehow make a difference for the rural village children of the Mekong.

Mar 2015


Hi, I recently contacted you ref my wonderful trip on the Angkor Pandaw cruising up the Mekong River and my subsequent review on Tripadvisor: What I forgot to say was on the first night of the cruise when all the guests were getting to know each other I started talking to a gentleman who honestly seemed vaguely familiar. Anyway to cut a long story short it turned out that this gentleman was my music teacher at my senior school  in Salisbury in Wiltshire some 50 yrs ago. I was 12yrs old at that time and I even remembered what car he used to drive. When you think of the odds of meeting someone you have not seen for 50yrs across the other side of the world on the Ankor Pandaw with some 30 guests that is absolutely amazing just goes to show how small the world is getting. Regards Jeff Carrier.

Mar 2015


Just back from another wonderful Pandaw cruise this time from Bagan to Mandalay.  The same wonderful atmosphere as previously with even better food and delightful staff.  I have already been to Cambodia/Vietnam and India and have just booked to go to Laos next year.   Look forward to more cruises!  Makes a great change from the dreary Edinburgh weather in February.  Best wishes Nicola Lowe.

Response from Pandaw

Thanks for letting me know all went well and am glad that Pagan to Mandalay was as good as the Mekong. Let's hope the Laos trip lives up to expectations. Being a new expedition it may be a bit rough at the edges on the service side but I promise it will not be without lots of excitement being a much smaller ship going through some wild areas.

Mar 2015


Dear Mr Strachan

I thought I must drop you a line to say how very much I and my friend enjoyed our first experience of Pandaw, spending a week on the Irrawaddy (from 28th February) on the Kalaw Pandaw.  The vessel and accommodation was excellent, the food delicious, beautifully served and garnished, and I cannot praise the crew highly enough.  Not only super-efficient but quite charming and always there to look after one.

I look forward to a further cruise in the not too distant future.  Your cruise from Chang Rai to Vientiane via Luang Prabang sounds most interesting.  As do other trips in Burma.

Kind regards
Jennifer Feller

Response from Pandaw

Many thanks for your kind words on your recent experience on the Kalaw Pandaw. We are touched and honoured by your comments and I have passed them on to the purser and team as they will encouraged further by such remarks. Laos will be very exciting, being a new product less smooth, but a lot of fun.

Best wishes for future travels.

Mar 2015



I would just like to say how much I enjoyed the above cruise on the RV Kalaw beginning on the 14th March.  The boat was lovely, kept wonderfully clean, the food was excellent and the staff were absolutely marvellous, looking after us all so wonderfully.

People are always so ready to complain about things, but do not always praise when things are good.

Thank you for a lovely experience.
Carolyn Parnell

Response from Pandaw

Many thanks for taking the time to write to us. Your feedback means much and I have passed it on to Sai and all the crew on the Kalaw Pandaw.  Both positive and negative criticism helps us keep the show on the road. The positive encourages us to do even better and the negative to fix things where they go wrong. But thank you all the more for your positive comments.

Apr 2015


Dear Paul

A group of 6 of us recently took one of your boats up the Irrawaddy to Bhamo.  It was a wonderful experience.  All the crew were committed, friendly, knowledgeable and generally very good at their respective jobs.  It tempts us to do it again, elsewhere.

We were saddened by the woeful (on the face of it) state of the beautiful river itself - the lifeblood of the country - something we appreciate is outside your control.  It was explained to us that you have tried to help tidy up and improve the general appearance of the often very messy, heavily (locally) polluted landing sites that we used every day.  Of course the message from companies like yours to the administration and others must be loud and strong that without improvement, the valuable tourist trade will suffer (though in reality it probably wont).

On a personal note, my only disappointment was the cuisine.  For me - and I love spicy food more than most - especially in the evening I was hoping (and had been reassured beforehand) that there would be at least one spicy regional offering.  Sometimes there was not; though the cook on request routinely provided a small bowl of hot chilli to spice things up, this slightly missed the point.  One or two nights the supper look decidedly like the standard fare dished up across the globe in 4 star hotels frequented by tourists.  My colleagues might say I am being harsh, and I am not questioning the competence of the kitchen, but something for me was definitely lost in translation.  Nor does it detract from the remark I made initially.

On my main point of writing to you, we were very taken by the good work being done by the staff of the Township Public Library in Katha (picture attached), and committed to try to help them.  The thought was that we might become a regular source of reading material in English for the Library and its users.  Of course this may be politically sensitive.  We are not sure exactly what would be of most use.  And thirdly, importantly we are not sure how we might successfully effect a delivery.  On that point, we wondered whether Pandaw could and would help, in terms of acceptance, customs and delivery.  We would start with a small package of probably new books only.  Before going too far this end, I very much look forward to what I hope is a positive reaction on your part.  It would be a pleasure to work with you on this small attempt to give something back to our wonderful country hosts.

Best Wishes
Peter Carter

Response from Pandaw

Dear Peter

Thanks for your message and delighted that your Pandaw River Exepdition went so well.

I will pass your message on to the ZAWGYI  crew so they know that they are appreciated.

I could not agree with you more about the state of the river banks. I felt the same when I did the same trip as you with my family at Christmas. Sadly there is not much we can do about the habits of 60M+ people. For millennia everything came wrapped in banana leaves which happily biodegraded in the back yard. Then plastic arrived.

I also agree about the lack of spicy food. This is a battle I have fought with our cooks for over 20 years and they just do not understand that most westerners really like spicy food. They think we can not stomach it and deliberately make it as bland as possible. I have endless rows about this when I go on the ships. They just do not get it. I grew up in Glasgow where you get hotter and spicier curries than anywhere East of Aden.

I did not know about this library in Katha. We would love to help them and you could send books care of our Yangon office for eventual delivery. Unfortunately we do not have a reliable or economic means of shipping from the UK. One day we would love to work on that. I will ask my contact at the British Council if they can help with book shipments to libraries.

Best wishes for future travels and hope to see you again on one of the Pandaws before too long!

All kind regards,

Paul Strachan
Pandaw Cruises

Apr 2015


Dear Paul and Sven

Mingalabar! Its 3 weeks now since our holiday to Myanmar - The Best of Burma and the Upper Irrawaddy B-BH021AZ, (24th Feb to 9th March)  – and we wanted to thank you for all the work that went into making our trip successful! All our guides and drivers were excellent, and it was so good to walk out of each airport to be met by a friendly face holding our names, or met at the hotel ready for the next leg of our holiday, or guided into the airport for the next leg. Our excursions were wonderful and we were able to learn so much about the culture, religion and people of Myanmar. Throughout our whole trip we were warmly greeted by everyone we met and found that people were very keen to share their knowledge with us.

We would especially like to thank the crew and guide from our boat, RV Zawgyi Pandaw. Their professionalism is a credit to your company. Always friendly and keen to help, patient with us and sharing our sense of humour. They showed great pride in their workmanship, and quickly learnt just what our favourite breakfast or evening drink would be, or which cabin our boots were from, or who might need a little extra help getting out of the boats and walking the plank – the little touches that make a big difference. Our guide, ‘Harry’, never lost any of us – despite our group being somewhat a mob of wanderers – and we learnt a great deal about Myanmar from him. At the end of our week we were sad to leave them all.

We read with much interest of the charity work undertaken by Pandaw and would like to make a donation to assist with the medical and educational work undertaken – and so very much needed in this country. As we live in Australia, could you please advise the best way for us to do this that would involve the least loss through foreign exchange transactions?

Hoping to hear from you soon, and thank you again

Best regards
John and Louise

Response from Pandaw

Dear John and Louise

Thank you for cruising with us and for your very nice email. Its always great to hear back from happy guests. We will send your regards to the Zawgyi crew.

The best way to donate to Pandaw Charity is via this link .

We do not have a AUD account.

We look forward to hopefully welcome you soon at a new Pandaw expedition.

Stay tuned, next week we will announce a new destination!

Kind regards,

Mar 2015


Hello Mr. Strachan.

Just returned from an amazing river cruise in an amazing country with your Pandaw Cruises.  (March 14-March 21)

I cannot express how much I enjoyed this trip.  The staff on this boat gave 110% everyday. Sei was kind, efficient and smiled all the time.  Sen, our guide did an exceptional job as well.  He had a boyish charm which was quite endearing.

The extra touches like cleaning our shoes and a glass of juice upon our return from excursions was appreciated.

Also loved the variety of transportation used for our and cart, luxury bus, tuk tuk and open air truck with benches all made for a wonderful adventure.

The food!   Couldn't believe it!  We had duck at lunch one day and even though I'm not a duck fan I couldn't get enough of it.  Excellent!!  And the breads!   And the salads that they tossed in front of us!!

Sen made the longyi demo really fun and interesting.  Loved it.

The rooms were always clean and I appreciated the unlimited bottles of water  in our room.  We had a courtesy room on the last day and I noticed the little care packet (ie comb etc.) I never had this in my room.   I only had soap, lotion and shower gel. (maybe upper deck gets that and not main deck?)

The shower water was cool on one or two occasions but I didn't care.

Although I enjoyed everything I thought I'd mention one thing.  We went to a small pot village, a metal pot place, a lacquerware place that makes pots, a silver pot place and a village that makes large pots.  I was thinking that it might be too many pot villages.  The last village we visited was the least desirable or maybe I was just tired of pots by then. more thing to mention......we got stuck on a sandbar for 9 hours and missed the Mandalay tour completely. I can only blame this on the captain.   the posts were clearly marked in the water and boats floated by all day long as we sat there.   Even though a ferry boat and a tug boat tried to help, it didn't seem that the captain had a clue about where to attach ropes or where to pull.  Finally a tugboat came by that actually knew what they were doing and had us out in 5 minutes.  Sei made an excellent judgement call regarding our bar bill and I was quite pleased.   I only wish I had drank more all week!  From what I understand, Mandalay is just a big city so I don't feel like I was cheated.

Anyway, loved this fascinating country and felt privileged to travel there while tourism is still in its infancy.

I would highly recommend this cruise company.

Catherine Mirrlees

Response from Pandaw

Dear Ms Mirrlees,

Thanks so much for your very enthusiastic note. I am so glad the trip went well and have passed on your kind words to the team in Burma. I am sorry you were stuck on a sandbank 9 hours. This season nearly all our ships have been grounded regularly as a result of very low water. I am glad you took it so well. Please may we post your message on our feedback page as it tells the story so well to other potential travellers. Many thanks again.

Best regards,

Paul Strachan

Mar 2015


Dear Paul

We have recently returned from a week on the Kalaw, a one week packet from Bagan to Mandalay (28 February to 7 March).

We really enjoyed the whole experience - the boat, crew, trips, food, cabin, atmosphere.  You and your team have created a very special  experience and my initial anxieties about going on a cruise were completely unnecessary.

We would love to go on another cruise with Pandaw - the Laos trip looks particularly interesting

Please pass on our thanks to Sy (sp?) and his team


Eddie Taylor and Pietro Ovatta

Feb 2015


Read Stephen Read's blogg about the RV Mekong Pandaw, Saigon to Siem Reap in February 2015

Feb 2015


In February my wife and I boarded the Angkor Pandaw in Ho Chi Minh city. From that moment we were to be treated to First class meals First Class service and First Class accommodation for the next 7 nights. Included in this trip up the Mekong were shore visits to villages, Temples and Schools the itinerary was endless and professionally organised. The guides in Vietnam and in Cambodia were very good and informative and the crew were always on hand to give advice or to help, nothing was to much trouble and always with a smiling face. There is nothing better than watching the people carry on with their everyday lives as you cruise slowly up the river.On board entertainment was also provided in the way of films or shows again top quality. The boat itself boasted rich dark wood everywhere and very well maintained. I could have stayed forever and when the dreaded day came to disembark the whole crew lined on the river bank to bid us goodbye. it was a floating Claridges. A cruise on the Mekong is a must whether take a long cruise like this or a short one for just a couple of days, you must do it.

Oct 2014


Our trip seems a lifetime ago: a 7 day cruise between Kampong Cham and the Mekong Delta in October 2014 was a perfect way to experience a bit more of Cambodia/cross into Vietnam. The ship, built in Scotland and modeled on the old steam-ships was fabulous, polished timber floors, stairs and brass fittings, tall funnel and the crew, captain through to laundry-maid, were dressed in crisp white uniforms: Our cabin boasted king-size bed, air-conditioning, plenty of hanging and storage space plus easy to use en-suite bathroom facility: We were on the middle deck, along from the dining room and the bar and snooker table were on the upper deck: There was a very generous open (free) bar policy in regard to local spirits and beers plus afternoon cocktails such as the delicious Mekong Sunset. Meal-times were a delight, offering a choice of either Western or local cuisine and there was an endless supply of fresh fruit and salads. Cruising the Mekong was a real experience, thick jungle, rice paddies and farming lands side by side and each day there were on-shore or floating village excursions on offer: Only disappointment was having to disembark by 8 a.m. (which meant a VERY early start) to catch the coach thru' to Ho Chi Minh City: we are considering doing a Pandaw Cruise along the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar in the not too distant future: I can't wait!!

Oct 2014


Everything about the Brahmaputra cruise on the Mahabaahu was so exciting. We visited Hindu temples, remote villages, and ancient monuments, went on a dawn safari on elephant back in search of rhino and even saw a Bengal tiger. And then there is the river itself – blazing such a trail through Assam that the scenery changes by the hour. What an amazing week.

Jun 2015


Article published in the travel section of the Australian Doctor magazine, click here to read this article.

Jun 2015


Article published on Travel2Next website, click here to read this article.

May 2014



We recently spent a week on the RV Mekong from Saigon to Seam Reap, 15th to 22nd March 2014.
We really wanted to tell you that it was a most amazing experience, for all good reasons! From the minute we boarded the boat to our final farewell, we were made to feel really special. All the facilities were wonderful. The food was superb, the boat was spotless, and EVERY member of staff was professional and polite and warm towards the passengers.

We must also mention Mr Neville, the cruise director, who is a kind and patient man, but also quietly very efficient at his job. He is a credit to the company.

We of course filled in a feedback form, but if it is possible, please relay our gratitude again to all the crew.

Kind regards,

Anna and Mike Cox

May 2014


Dear Mr. Strachan,

I have recently returned from a Jules Verne Angkor Wat and Mekong holiday. My wife and I were on your boat Mekong Pandaw from 15 to 22 March.

I wish to inform you that the time spent on the boat was absolutely brilliant. By any yardstick every aspect of the holiday and service ticked the excellant box. The  crew under Capt Nguy Nguc Thu were great providing an excellant service, effecient, helpful and always with a smile whether they were a seaman, cook or laundry girl. Cabins lovely, food great ,spotlessly clean and very relaxing when not on tour. Evening programmes of films and talks were spot on.

We particularly enjoyed the variety of activities on board and especially the twice daily visits to local schools, markets, villages, seeing local handicrafts,etc.Both interesting and educational and gave us a wonderful insight into life in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Of particular note I must mention  your local guide on the boat in Cambodia-Phalylao who had a marvellous relationship with the local people and children. and Neville Joseph who I believe was on his last tour is a marvel and warrants a 10 out of 10 for performance. You will have some task in replacing him, however we were delighted with his company and that of his lovely family. We do wish him well with his new project.

Thank you for a memorable holiday , you can be very proud of your boat and staff.

David & Pam Bainbridge
Berks, UK

May 2014


Hi Alex

We were very delighted at all the Pandaw experience; as one retired naval officer, RN, wrote to me yesterday: “The Mekong Pandaw was, as I commented on a number of occasions, just superb - I cannot imagine how it could be improved. I spent some precious time on the sundeck at midnight contemplating my time in the South China sea under similar skies 49 years ago.”

Personally I couldn’t fault the service, apart from putting ice in the butter. The ship is superbly converted and Cynthia & I may come privately again, for I love PP.

Kind Regards & thanks for everything

Dec 2013


Hi Emily,

A quick note to say 'thank you' for all the help that you gave in re-organizing our Siem Reap end of the trip. It was very good and we thoroughly enjoyed Angkor Wat.
Once again we had a fabulous time on board the RV Pandaw Mekong. We are seriously looking at the next possible destination with Pandaw. It is just so relaxing and pleasant to cruise up/down a river and be pampered by the fabulous crew.

Another Burmese man this time - Neville - on a par with Daniel. He runs a tight ship and kept us entertained and well looked after.
I am sure I will be emailing you again soon.

Kind regards
S. Wade

Mar 2017


I have just returned from a cruise on Kalaw Pandaw from Mandalay to Bagan with 17 other single people. I would just like to say how much we all enjoyed the time on (and off) the boat. The crew could not have been more friendly and helpful, the food better or the boat cleaner.

On boarding we were told "welcome to your second home", and that is indeed how it felt. The company is to be congratulated on its achievement in building such lovely traditional craft, and encouraging an atmosphere on board from a happy crew making a cruise such a lovely restful and interesting experience.

Don't change a thing,
Kind regards

Dec 2013



We just wanted to let you know that we had the most wonderful time on our 14 day Myanmar 600 mile "adventure" departing Yangon on 3 October.

This was our second Pandaw experience and we just loved it.

The service was perfect and all the crew were so friendly and couldn't do enough for us and our fellow travellers. Thin and Meo looked after us literally from dawn to "lights out" and were just charming. The food is spot on and we loved being able to be eat on the deck rather than in a formal dining room. The Burmese salads at lunch time were a particular highlight. We had a delicious Burmese chicken curry at one meal and the chef was kind enough to give me the recipe.

The shore excursions were very well organised and very interesting. Gigi, our guide, was a font of knowledge and very consultative and made sure we were all happy with the pace and what we were to see and do. I guess this was easy the first week as there were only 9 of us and mostly only 7 or 8 going ashore. It all helped that we all got along and no one was "difficult".

The day were were to disembark, news came through that there had been an incident at a hotel in Yangon involving an explosive device. Some of the passengers were more concerned than others about safety but I think we all appreciated the visit from your Mandalay representative, Dan, who came on board to explain what had happened and to calm any nerves.

Please pass on our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all the crew of the RV Katha Pandaw!

Kind regards

Elizabeth Lane and John McCallum

Dec 2013


Hello Mr. Strachan,

I have arrived home in Australia after a wonderful Irrawady River cruise on Orient Pandaw.

The crew were exceptionable, so very friendly and helpful and it was a joy to spend time with them in their beautiful country.

The cruise could not be faulted, everything from service, food and friendliness and interesting shore excursions were so well planned and enjoyed by me and I am sure all on my departure.

Thank you and your crew, best wishes for the future, Gail Nielsen, Torquay Australia.

Dec 2013


Dear Mr Strachan,

I would like to thank you and your organization for a wonderful holiday cruise. Thank you also for allowing us to inspect the new "Baby Pandaw", with whom we fell in love, at first sight.

As you are probably aware, we had a medical emergency on our trip. Your purser, ERICK" did a remarkable job in supporting one of the passenger on board during a frightening and difficult time. Erick was available 24 hours for them and I am sure he must have lost quite a lot of sleep. The extra load he shouldered in no way affected the rest of his job which he managed with charm, humor and efficiency at all times . I think all passengers would agree that he is an outstanding man.

Every member of your staff deserves a mention for their hospitality skills from your captains to your sailors and waiters.
Our impression was that nothing was ever a chore for any of them.

I should also mention our guide Kyaw Soe Latt. I believe Soe is an agency employee. I would highly recommend him for future employment. His knowledge, sense of humor and ability to gauge the interests of a group were excellent.

Please pass on our best wishes to your crew and I wish you everyone in your organization a peaceful an prosperous 2014.

With kind regards

Helen Salmon

Dec 2013


Dear Paul,

I recently had a wonderful trip on the Orient Pandaw from Prome to Mandalay, and had the pleasure of meeting you & your wife when the 'Baby Pandaw' drew alongside. I wanted to send this email with some comments on my trip, which I felt was an exceptional, and, at times, very humbling, experience.

Firstly, I would like to say how impressed I was with the Orient Pandaw itself - a glorious and very special boat (?ship - apologies, don't know which is correct!)which encouraged strong friendships to be formed. The whole experience was greatly enhanced by the friendly, thoughtful and caring crew, who were second to none, and ensured the comfort and well-being of all of us onboard. The itinerary gave us the opportunity to see much more of what, I suspect, is the 'real' Myanmar, much helped by having Soe, an excellent guide, with us. Like many of my fellow travellers, I have been travelling for much of my life, and this trip stands out way above the norm - I'll definately be investigating other Pandaw tours myself and have already fed back to my English travel agent that I would happily recommend the trip.

I must also mention something which I very much hope is rarely needed - and that was the assistance and care that was given to two of my fellow passengers, when the gentleman needed medical care and then later, when he and his wife had to be air-ambulanced to Bangkok for treatment. The assistance and caring attitude given to them both, by all the crew but most especially by Erick, our Purser, was incredible, from contacting and getting the best medical assistance in difficult circumstances, right through to the practicalities, such as giving Barrie piggy-backs up the riverbank to enable him to physically get to doctors and hospitals along the way - even bringing him up to the sundeck so he could enjoy the fun being had there - very, very impressive and way beyond any normal assistance.

To conclude, thank you for putting such a superb experience together and I wish you continuing success, especially with the 'Baby Pandaw'!

Pat Ferdinands

Nov 2013


My wife and I recently travelled on your Irrawaddy cruise, Prome to Mandalay, 06 Nov – 14 Nov 2013, as part of a more extensive Cruisco holiday in Myanmar.

Our thanks for the pleasure we gained from our cruise. As guests we found our host the Purser “Mr Erick”, and all members of the crew were most professional, considerate and a pleasure to be around.
We particularly wish to record our appreciation of the tour guide, Mr San Lin Tun, and to congratulate you on his selection. Having been on guided tours in Europe, Canada and the USA, we know that the guide is vital to how rewarding and enjoyable a tour we experience. (It also influences future choices)

On this tour San met all the criteria. He was very professional and personable in his dealings with both guests and the various local people we met along the way. His knowledge and enthusiasm for each topic that arose was apparent, and his ability to provide the information in an engaging manner was excellent. His willingness to expand and explain both to the group and to individual’s questions was appreciated.

That the demands of each day had been considered in advance and our needs and best interests taken into account in the detailed planning was unobtrusive but self evident in the outcomes. Your guests were impressed – congratulations and thank you.

Lyn & Norm Bunn

Nov 2013


Hello Paul,

Back in Aus after a really great trip to Burma and Singapore.

As far as Orient Pandaw and her crew are concerned - they were all terrific and very attentive. Cannot fault the service. The food was excellent and plentiful - most travellers vowing diets on return to Australia! You have done a great job to create such a loyal crew. Our tour guide for the 8 days was "Tom". He was excellent. Loved the ship and it really created the atmosphere of the old days on the Irrawaddy. The shore excursions were very well organised and they certainly kept us on the go. Must admit that I am not sure that I want to see another Pagoda for a while!

Myanmar has a lot of work to do on infrastructure. In general the cities seem to work Ok although the traffic in Rangoon was something else. Some of the riverside villages still do not have water pumped from the Irrawaddy. The rubbish alongside the roads and on the river banks was not pleasant to see - apparently no local administration to organise (and pay for) rubbish collection and disposal. But it does detract from the overall impression of Myanmar. Some thoughts for you:

The 6 hour bus trip from Rangoon to Prome to join the Orient Pandaw was excruciatingly long. Wouldn't it be lovely to have a flying boat from Rangoon harbour to the river at Prome!

As the river was quite low it was a bit off putting to see all the rubbish on the banks as we made our way to embark on Orient Pandaw. Would it be feasible to have this area cleaned up prior to embarkation?

Mandalay Airport. A huge structure where nothing works - they really have to do something about it. I doubt if an airline like Singapore Airlines would want to put Mandalay on their schedule with the state of the facilities there.

Whilst on the cruise, we were shown the film that you made entitled "The Forgotten Fleet" I would love to get a copy of this - can you let me know where that could be obtained?

We now have at the back of our minds that in the future a cruise from Mandalay to Bhamo at the end of the wet season (river full) say end August/early September sounds a good idea - perhaps in a couple of years or so.

Best wishes


Sep 2013


Dear Mr Strachan,

Having just completed the Upper Mandalay to Prome cruise, Oct 16-26, I have the following observations:

- The boat, crew and general amenities were exceptionally well maintained and presented.
- Service too was exceptional
-The activities could have been a little more varied, and, at times, more comfortable (horse carts)

- The guide was the drawback: he needs to learn more about flora and fauna, and to be willing to engage in conversation about everyday life and social history and not just politics. He was not skilled in delivering his information in the most comfortable of circumstances, several times speaking at length in hot sun. He repeated constantly, to an unusual extent for such a guide. The briefings in the evening could have been more conversational instead of dictatorial, as we were all comfortably seated and ready to hear. He avoided answering questions which questioned his voew of events.

I am sure with more experience, he will relax and preach less and share more, but he does need immediate guidance in how much to talk and when.

- The lack of cool dining and relaxing space meant that pur group retreated to their cabins rather more than was good for community. When the boat is still, more fans would alleviate the worst of the heat, but air-con would tempt people to stay up longer in the evenings.

Overall a wonderful experience on a lovely vessel.

Sep 2013


Dear Paul Strachan

I have recently returned from a Pandaw Cruise from Mandalay to Prome and I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it.

Everything about the cruise was first rate. The boat was wonderful. It was clean, comfortable and well maintained. Every member of the crew was friendly, helpful and professional. The Purser, Mr Maung Naing (Eric) had a great sense of humour and was just so helpful. The food produced by the chef was outstanding. It not only tasted good but was beautifully presented. I assumed he had trained in a 5 star hotel but apparently not.

The crew on that boat is pure gold!

I hope they are all appreciated by management.

I will certainly be telling my friends what a great holiday I had.

Kind regards

(Mrs)Christine Lawther

Sep 2013


We recently spent eight nights on the Irrawaddy river, on the ‘Orient Pandaw’, between Yangon and Mandalay and had a wonderful holiday.  My travel agent had told the company that I was on a strict gluten free diet. ‘No problem’ - there was gluten free food at every meal. I had taken rice crackers and packaged soups, as a precaution, but they were not needed. As I wrote in my diary, the large, cheerful, friendly chef on board was at my shoulder at every meal, pointing out the special dishes he had prepared, or assuring me that either everything on offer was gluten free, or perhaps warning me that the noodles, or the bread, or the dessert were not for me. Some times a dish of g-f dessert was discretely slipped beside my plate when everyone else was off selecting from the other sweets on offer, or I had g-f biscuits to have with the soup, or congee to go with the meat and vegetables at lunch, or sitting on the deck before dinner a plate of g-f nibbles was there for me to share with our pre-dinner drinks.  At one time, a ‘gluten free supplement for the elderly’ was proudly displayed and of course I gave myself a large serving, though I didn’t need reminding that I was ‘elderly’!  I suspect the chef had been off to the supermarket and bought anything and everything with a g-f logo.

This was a holiday when I found that being a coeliac was understood, and I wanted to tell you the Coeliac Society and Paul from Pandaw how much I appreciated that. I had an unusual overseas holiday, with no worries about diet, because there was cordial hospitality and understanding of my dietary requirements from everyone. I should also tell you that we were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary on this voyage, and on that evening a beautiful anniversary cake was served to all our fellow passengers – and a dear little heart shaped gluten free cake was there for me! Of course the holiday wasn’t only about food – there were friendly Burmese people in elegant longhis, pagodas, monasteries, paddy fields, river traffic, and the history, architecture and archaeology of this fascinating country.

A holiday I can recommend, wholeheartedly.

Barbara Deakin

Jan 2015


The Road to Mandalay

Well, actually it was the road from Mandalay, but that’s not really important. Annie and I travelled with two other friends on the wonderful 10-day Golden Land cruise from Mandalay to Yangon in December 2014. There were only 15 guests aboard, which makes for a very special experience. In fact , our three Pandaw cruises (down the Mekong from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City, up and down the Rajang River in Borneo and now our Myanmar adventure) have all involved small numbers aboard, and we have always been spoiled and pampered!

The staff on board were outstanding, without exception. The standard of food on offer is amazing, with an Asian option always available (although as Pandaw’s clientele has broadened, the chilli zing has gone a little bit out of the food, but a word to the ever-efficient Chantelle and we were always asked whether we would like ‘spicy’).  We had an unfortunate accident with a shaft or a propeller or something that makes the boat go, and needed a tug to push us down river for 7 of the 10 days. While there was some apprehension about noise and disturbance, the tug seemed to leave its noise behind us, and really the only time we were aware of it was when we were moored for the night, when it was alongside the boat. The Ayeyrwaddy is treacherous and shallow in the dry season, with ever-changing sandbanks and sudden shoals, and we were often forced to go really slowly, with a deckhand up front using a long bamboo pole to check depth – this all added to the excitement and adventure.

The level of service on a Pandaw boat is always exemplary, and this trip was no exception. The bar staff and the wait staff could not have been more helpful, and there were a couple of people on board with dietary restrictions, who were looked after with every attention to detail.

The shore excursions were wonderful, and we were privileged to be involved in a number of very special experiences. Our guide San Lwin is without a doubt the very best person with whom to share Myanmar. His knowledge and experience are extraordinary, and he was responsible for transforming our trip from a typically wonderful Pandaw experience into the very best Pandaw experience. Because of him, and because Buddha was smiling on him and us, we were invited into a private home in Sale (or Salay), a house all the Pandaw passengers walk past on their tour of this lovely town with an array of beautiful colonial architecture. According to San, there hasn’t been an invitation to enter before. The lovely lady of the house showed us all over her magnificent mansion. What a magical moment! And another magical moment: in Danubyu, I think, while we were having our trishaw ride around the town, we passed a wedding in a large hall, and before we knew it, we were all invited in and asked to share the wedding feast with the guests – all because San asked if we could just take photos. We were also very privileged to experience a special elephant dance on the banks of the river after our wonderful day in Bagan.

As always, we were sad to leave. As return travellers with Pandaw, we always feel as though we are being greeted by family when we embark, and as though we are saying farewell to family when we disembark. Pandaw occupies a very special place in our lives, and we intend to return again and again … we are booked on the new Red River cruise in Vietnam in September, and we can’t wait!

Thank you Pandaw.

Denzil O’Brien and Annie Shepherd (December 2014)

Mar 2013


We have just returned from a wonderful trip. At very short notice, enthused by descriptions from Iain and Katie Anderson, we managed to get a cabin on the Mandalay to Pyay cruise starting on 21st February. We have had a fantastic time.

Your organisation is so excellent; all the staff so supportive, friendly and efficient; Daniel Townsend as terrific a guide as one could hope to encounter in a lifetime of travel. His relationship with his clients, and with all whom we encountered in both villages off the beaten track and tourist centres, his authoritative knowledge, his eloquent delivery, his niceness, and his superb but unobtrusive discipline, are truly outstanding.

For us the trip was much enhanced by the several villages that we visited, and by Daniel’s emphasis on the two-way nature of these contacts, as well as by getting some understanding of the work that Pandaw is doing in support of these communities.

Apr 2013


Dear Paul,

In September, 2012, we were fortunate to be amongst 20 passengers on the 20 day Chindwin trip on Katha Pandaw…a trip we can only describe in superlatives!

What a lovely vessel, crewed by incredibly obliging and cheerful Burmese staff, who, to a man, did their utmost to satisfy the needs and whims of all the passengers. Their attentiveness, sense of humour, and generous spirit, combined with the unexpectedly luxurious comforts of this ‘Expedition Boat’, made for an outstanding travel experience .

The 3 hour, 24 mile, eventful drive in a pair of rudimentary buses from the Kalaw airport to the boat at Kalaywa gave us our first taste of the ‘expeditionary nature’ of the journey we were anticipating. We were both educated and entertained by this bus trip, thanks to our excellent guide, Daniel, whose numerous special qualities we were yet to discover. On arriving at Katha Pandaw, Naing Maung’s welcomed us ‘to our new home’ – and that is exactly what the boat quickly became – our home (with the added benefit of staff laid on!). Naing’s patience, consideration for others, compassion, generosity and good humour, were clearly a shining example to his entire team. His daily perseverance in teaching us some basic Burmese was appreciated, and once I realized that not pronouncing consonants on the ends of words is integral to the Burmese language, I easily understood his English. During the trip, we were anxious to make contact with home whenever we could, as our 28 year old daughter had cancer. Naing Maung helped me find internet access opportunities in towns where we berthed to keep track of her progress. His demonstrated concern also included suggestions for traditional Burmese remedies which might help. Sadly, she died, just 3 weeks after our return to Australia, but not before she had heard all about our travels in Burma – a trip she had wanted to make herself.

We immensely enjoyed the outdoor dining setup on the upper deck. Here, it was possible to experience all manner of weathers; to socialize with fellow travellers or not, as one’s mood dictated; to sit quietly and watch the day to day activity of villagers when we moored; or to ‘be’ the entertainment for them. How much we would have missed had we been enclosed in an air conditioned communal area, or had our view obstructed by an enclosure at the rear of the deck. (It was one of the reasons we opted for this vessel instead of the Pandaw II which did the same trip) Similarly, we enjoyed being able to draw back the French doors in our cabin to watch the river go by, with fresh air rather than air conditioning if we were sailing during the day.

We were also delighted by the variety and quality of the catering. It didn’t take long to become hooked on the traditional mohinga/soup at every meal. It was obvious that the chefs were keen to impress, and particularly when they served versions of Burmese cuisine, they most certainly did. I still enjoy Shan green tea with slices of ginger as my first drink of the day – a habit acquired on Pandaw Katha.

The shore excursions exceeded our expectations in terms of how far afield and how varied they would be. It may detract from the ‘surprise’ element of the trip for others to be too specific here; but thanks to Daniel’s efforts, no doubt supported by others, the comprehensiveness of our experience of Burma was enhanced…and the Chindwin element appears to have encompassed more than most who live in the country have had the opportunity to see.

And now for Daniel. I do not believe any of us could have been in better hands. Not only handsome (!) , but talented, a joy to witness interacting with children, a funny, highly educated and well informed guide, passionate about his country, musical to his very core and quick to appreciate the varying capabilities of his tour group. We were privileged indeed to be in his care.

Thank you for Pandaw, the concept, and for it's professionally brilliant execution by your wonderful front line team. We were excited to see your new trip focussing on Tonle Sap and look forward to being part of that in 2014.

Very best regards,

Pippa & Ben Smith

Aug 2013


Hello Paul,

My wife and I recently spent 14 enjoyable days on the Kathay Pandaw doing the Pyay to Kalay trip.The trip was well beyond expectations with nothing that we could fault.The vessel was well appointed, clean, quiet and very comfortable.The crew were very professional, and those crew that interfaced with the passengers, very attentive, obliging and they could not do enough for you, almost to an embarrassing degree.

Your guide, Daniel, is a tremendous asset to your Company. He is well spoken, very considerate and has great empathy with all those he is dealing with, whether it be a passenger (especially those feeling ill), a villager (all of whom he treated with respect and dignity), and village children (with whom he related to a totally friendly and engaging manner) and the crew. There seemingly were no issues or problems that he was incapable of handling or addressing, which gave us a great degree of confidence. The trip was perhaps one of the best holidays that we have had, and we compliment you and the company for a job well done.

Prior to booking the trip, Pandaw was a name that we had not heard of, nor could we find out much about it, apart from the website. Since arriving back in New Zealand, I have visited three travel agents, all aligned to different wholesalers, and asked them for information on river cruising in SE Asia. Not one mentioned Pandaw, and when asked about Pandaw, none of them had heard of the Company. I would suggest that there is a significant untapped market in New Zealand for your cruises, as generally many New Zealanders enjoy this type of holiday, well away from hordes of other tourists.

I believe that if your cruises are marketed and put forwarded as an option to prospective NZ travellers (who have similar interests as Australians), these New Zealanders would compliment the significant number of Australians booking your cruises.


Mervyn & Ann Kite

Dec 2013


Dear Emily,

Just a personal note of thanks for all your help and info supplied whenever I/we needed it during our many months of prep for the Pyay to Kalay Pandaw cruise in August this year.

Many people from all over the world on board too agreed with us that you are a wonderful person to deal with because you always come back with answers quickly and answer even the most complicated or unusual queries, incl. the details supplied when we took a private car to Prome to catch Pandaw Katha from there..

You were with Pandaw right back to when my husband and I did the amazing “into the heart of Borneo” trip and every time we take another Pandaw cruise you are still there to answer our questions and that is why I wanted to email you today (as I am sorting out many hundreds of photos :) to say “ Many thanks, it is always a real pleasure to deal with you” and if Laos ever takes off we will be the first to book with you again.

Best regards

Su & David Warren

Dec 2016


I just wanted to commend the extraordinary crew of the Kha Byoo during our 10-day trip from 7th October to the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy and the town of Katha, home to George Orwell.

This was my third trip to Burma and my second trip with Pandaw - I am a believer! The boats, the staff, the food, the destination - all absolute perfection. I would particularly like to thank Tun Tun Lin our Purser, Saw Yan Naing (Mai) our bartender/waiter and Kaung Htet (waiter) and Han Shwe Mint (waiter). They are a dream team and clearly enjoy working together - this is reflected in just how well they look after their guests. The chef was outstanding and the food magnificent.

Pagan & The Upper Irrawaddy River Cruise

There aren't enough superlatives to describe this marvellous trip. Thank you Pandaw!

I hope to be back onboard soon.
Virginia Sanden