The Irrawaddy is the crucial artery which connects Burma’s main cities, snakes through its glorious countryside and reaches as far as the border with China. Cruising along it is not only an incredibly leisurely way of getting from A to B but an enriching experience too. Just in case you needed convincing, we’ve compiled our top five reasons to cruise in Burma.
Pandaw River Cruises
Asia is made up of an endless wonderland of waterways. Some of the most remote and stunning parts of the continent can only be reached by boat, and no boats operate a more extensive network of routes on hard to navigate rivers than Pandaw. There really is no finer way to gain an insight into authentic local life and soak up the magnificent scenery than on one of Pandaw’s in-depth river cruises.
Classic Mekong - 7 nights
Pandaw’s Classic Mekong expedition takes you on a cultural odyssey from the hustle and bustle of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, to the tranquillity and calm of Cambodia. Starting in Saigon, you’ll cruise through a variable landscape of floating markets, catfish farms and vibrant trading towns, before crossing into Cambodia, where the Mekong takes on a much more peaceful vibe, with its timeless rural life. Spend a full day in the charming capital of Phnom Penh, where you’ll have the chance to explore the city by cyclo and embark on an optional excursion to the Killing Fields, which provides a fascinating if somewhat harrowing insight into the country’s history. The real jewel in the crown of the Classic Mekong expedition is the stop in the former French colonial town of Kratie. No other cruise ship can navigate these waters, but the Mekong Pandaw’s shallow draught means the boat can attempt it if the water levels are favourable. This allows you to visit the protected grounds of the elusive and charismatic Irrawaddy dolphin, which is certain to be a highlight.
The Laos Mekong - 10 nights
Pandaw’s ten-night Laos Mekong expedition is the perfect choice for those looking to explore unchartered territory – this in-depth journey through Laos navigates parts of the Mekong that have not been included on any other river expedition for many decades. Beginning in Vientiane and ending at the Golden Triangle where Laos, Thailand and Burma meet, you’ll be treated to a whole host of dramatic scenery as the river weaves through mountains, forests and gorges. Highlights include the chance to explore the temples, monuments and colonial architecture of Vientiane and a two-night stop at the UNESCO-protected city of Luang Prabang, where you’ll be treated to the early morning sight of saffron-robed monks collecting alms, as chants and incense waft from the gilded temple spires. You will also have the chance to visit several remote tribal villages, see local handicraft production and witness the daily rhythms of rural life unfolding along the riverbank. Lovers of the great outdoors will relish the jungle pools and waterfalls of this beautiful part of the world.
Halong Bay & Red River - 10 nights
Discover the life and culture of northern Vietnam on a leisurely ten-night cruise amid the scenic beauty of the Red River system. This intrepid expedition takes in stretches of river that no other tourist craft can navigate. Your journey starts in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay, where you can explore the dramatic limestone pinnacles that rise out of the sea, dating back over 20 million years. From here you’ll cruise along the commercial waterway of the Kinh Thay River to Hanoi, learning about Vietnamese history as you go. On arrival in Vietnam’s bustling capital, we recommend a visit to the notorious wartime prison, known as the Hanoi Hilton, and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. From here you begin to really venture off the beaten track, cruising through the Vietnamese highlands. Discover emerald green paddies, intricate pagodas and the authentic way of life of rural Vietnam, including a visit to the UNESCO-praised ancient village of Duong Lam.
Chindwin River - 7 nights
A main tributary of Burma’s Irrawaddy River, the Chindwin carves through mountains and forests on the loveliest of routes, dotted with little towns and villages unchanged for generations. This seven-night expedition cruises between Monywa and Homalin, or Kalewa (depending on the time of year), and has a dreamy, almost other-worldly feel about it, as if you have travelled back in time. Highlights include the oldest wooden monastery in Burma at Mingkin, the old colonial ‘dak’ bungalows of Mawlaik, which can only be reached by boat, and a visit to an ancient Shan enclave at Toungdoot. The Burmese river network has played a key role in the country’s history and development and all the legacies of past dynasties are situated along the riverbank (including numerous Buddhist temples), making a river cruise by far the best way for travellers to enjoy this unique country. Thanks to Pandaw's ultra-low draught, they are able to cruise this stretch of river even when water levels are low.
Low on time? Pandaw operate a range of shorter cruises too.
Call us on 020 3141 2850 to plan your perfect trip.