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The Tonle River is the Mekong's main tributary that flows down from the Tonle Sap or "Great Lake" in central Cambodia. That giant body of water is 100km from end to end and in the rains it quadruples in size flooding much of the surrounding floodplain. The Tonle river changes direction twice a year: when the monsoon arrives, the flow from the Mekong backs up to the central plain and when the rains end, the river reverses direction and empties the flood back out into the Mekong.

Passengers of our famous Tonle River Cruises get the chance to experience the magical capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. This vibrant city sits astride the confluence of the Tonle and Mekong rivers and is our home port on the Lower Mekong.

River Cruise itinerary for Classic Mekong River Cruise map for Classic Mekong

Classic Mekong


A cruise on the Mekong is like no other river cruise you will experience. The river runs along the border of such varied countries, from the bustling cities of Vietnam to the calm towns of Cambodia. This 7 night cruise begins in either Saigon or Siem Reap. Discover Phnom Penh by cyclo, why not book an extension and set sail to explore the awe-inspiring monuments of Angkor.

Rivers: Mekong River, Tonle River

Ships: RV Bassac Pandaw, RV Mekong Pandaw, RV Tonle Pandaw

from US$2,596.50 per person

members from US$2,308 per person

Save up to 10% and No Single Supplement on selected dates

Tonle River Ships

RV Bassac Pandaw river cruise ship

RV Bassac Pandaw

The third of these rather grand Vietnamese sisters, along with the Orient and Indochina, and the only sister remaining on the Mekong. She is a g....
RV Mekong Pandaw river cruise ship

RV Mekong Pandaw

Built in Rangoon in 2002 she was sailed round to Saigon under her own power and many a drama described in Paul Strachan’s Pandaw Story. This shi....
RV Tonle Pandaw river cruise ship

RV Tonle Pandaw

Modelled on Pandaw II and originally called Pandaw III, the Tonle saw a year’s service in Burma in 2002/3 before being sent under tug-tow to the....

River Cruise Stops

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh

One thing that so many people love about going on a river cruise is that they get the opportunity to explore places they otherwise wouldn’t. This is something we definitely help you to achieve. One of the most popular spots on our Mekong river cruises is Phnom Penh for its rich history and wealth of things to do. Key facts about Phnom Penh Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and the most populous city in the country. It was founded in 1434 and it is noted for the many historical attractions and architecture, including a number of surviving French colonial buildings. It used to be known as Krong Chaktomuk. It has become the cultural, industrial, and economic centre of the nation. It has progressed to this status ever since becoming the capital once the French colonised Cambodia. What is Phnom Penh famous for? When you consider just how important Phnom Penh is in terms of the economy and culture in Cambodia, it is not hard to see why it has become such a famous city. However, there is more to Phnom Penh than this! It is actually widely referred to as the Pearl of Asia because it was deemed one of the most beautiful cities that was built by the French in the 1920s in Indochina. Phnom Penh, as well as Sihanoukville and Siem Reap, are both significant domestic and global tourist destinations for Cambodia. Waterfront at Phnom Penh Top things to do in Phnom Penh You probably won’t be surprised to learn that there are plenty of things to see and do while you are in Phnom Penh. This includes visiting the King’s official residence, which is the Royal Palace. This is a symbol of the Kingdom and it is a venue for court ceremony. Despite this, there are a number of different areas that are open to the public. You will also find the Silver Pagoda here too. This is a prominent template, which is named for its gleaming silver floor, taking a key place on the riverside. Another one of the most popular tourist spots in Phnom Penh is the National Museum of Cambodia. The good news is that you won’t need to travel far to see this, as it is right next to the Royal Palace. It is home to over 5, 000 artefacts that date back to the period of ancient Angkorian. Other places of interest include Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Cambodian Living Arts’ theatre show, and Wat Phnom. King’s Palace in Phnom Penh If you are interested in a Pandaw River Cruise , or you would like to visit Phnom Penh specifically, the best way to experience it is on our Classic Mekong cruise where you’ll visit the Royal Palace and the silver pagoda as well as the national museum with a collection of Angkorian statuary. In the afternoon, you’ll get to explore Phnom Penh’s waterfront and have high tea.


Saigon or Ho Chi Minh is the capital of southern Vietnam and after Hanoi the country's second city. Remarkably despite the boom of the past ten years much of old Saigon has survived and there is still a real L'Indochine feel to the place. It is easy to walk around the central district exploring the broad leafy boulevards and splendid French colonial architecture - the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Post Office and Opera. The Town Hall, scene of the 'fall of Saigon' on April 30th 1975 is worth a peek as is the war museum (interestingly the French seem to come off far worse than the Americans!). A half day excursion to the Chu Chi tunnel complex is also well worth it - here the Viet Cong held out against successive carpet bombing in an underground city. Saigon is a great place to eat with some excellent French or Vietnamese restaurants.
Siem Reap

Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the town around which the Angkor monuments are situated. Modern Siem Reap is about 45minutes from the Tonle Sap and the port facilities there are very poor - dusty and disorganised - so be prepared! The modern town is not very attractive and with the increased popularity of Angkor as a destination over the past few years literally hundreds of new hotels have opened. It is a big mess with congested traffic and even pollution. Such are the benefits of mass tourism. However, the temple complexes are so vast and varied that it is quite easy to lose the package tour groups and do your own thing. Explored with discernment, and good planning, many a magical moment is still to be had. (e. g. Avoid the sunrise from Angkor Wat as this is what most tourists will be doing). Look to exploring some of the complexes like Rolous that are further away and less busy. Although very busy, Angkor remains one of the most important architectural sites on the planet and is an absolute must!

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Travel Blogs

Khmer Rouge Killing Fields

One of the darkest times in the history of the modern era took place in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979, following immediately after the end of t....

Tonle River Climate

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Exploring Angkor

Exploring Angkor

Victoria Resort. This is a private tour.....
Saigon & Surroundings

Saigon & Surroundings

This hotel boasts 305 elegantly appointed rooms, bespoke treatments at Spa InterContinental and three international restaurants. This 5-star lux....
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