Top 10 Reasons to Take a River Cruise
Premier River Cruises. America's best travel agency for river cruise vacations!
HOURS — Mon.–Fri. 6:00 am–5:00 pm PT | Sat. & Sun. Closed

RiverMasters Club 2+2+2 Loyalty Rewards Program
Sweepstakes Program
Travel Protection Insurance

A truly classic experience from the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company!


Pandaw Benefits

We know Pandaw River Cruises will truly give you a unique flavor of what
it was like during the Colonial period in Southeast Asia.

The Pandaw ships, their very local crew, and even the food served on board Pandaw will provide guests with an experience that takes you back into the glorious past of Southeast Asia.

Today, Pandaw operates seven truly magnificent shallow-draft river cruise ships operating on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia, and the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). We’ll talk a bit more about their ships in future articles, but in order for you to get a better feel of what a Pandaw river cruise is like, we think it’s really important to know a bit more about the company’s rich history.

To better understand the rich lineage of today’s Pandaw, you need to go back in time to a period around 1865 when Scottish merchants established the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in the British colony of Burma. It was a family-owned business and by the 1920’s they operated over 650 vessels, some holding as many as 4,000 passengers, plying the many rivers of Burma. As the Japanese moved into Southeast Asia during WWII, the family had a most difficult decision to make: allow the fleet to fall into enemy hands or scuttle them and make them useless to invaders. The family chose to sink the entire fleet.

So play it forward to around 1995, when one of the descendents of the original Scottish owners (Paul Strachan) decided to revive the “Flotilla.” Given his keen interest in the history and culture of the region, Strachan decided to restore one of the original Clyde-built steamers called the Pandaw. The restoration was painstakingly accomplished over a number of years. Subsequent to that restoration, it was decided to build four brand new replicas in order to create a very unique concept and style of river cruising in Southeast Asia, and named the cruise line Pandaw River Cruises after the original steamer.

These new, fully air-conditioned ships were built, designed and outfitted as true replicas of the original colonial river steamers. The smallish ships (170 feet long) accommodate around 70 guests and have the highest space to passenger ratio of any ship afloat (View a typical deck plan.). The ships have beautifully appointed staterooms average 170-190 square feet and befitting their colonial lineage, elegantly finished out in teak and brass.

As their Chairman, Yim Choong Hing, known to his friends simply as, Yim says, “Whilst we offer a real adventure experience, travelers are cushioned with incredible comfort, fine dining, great cocktails and choice wines, not to mention extraordinary levels of service.”

Pandaw Cruises are honored by the fact that so many past passengers return on a regular basis.
It is always a pleasure for our crew to see familiar faces once again. We are constantly striving to make our cruises evermore interesting, enhancing and embellishing itineraries wherever possible. In fact, our published itineraries are basically just outlines of the cruises — in actuality, we see and do far more than indicated. Many old passengers tell us that no two cruises are ever the same.”

As you might imagine, Pandaw ships are not only known for the destinations they serve and their impeccable river cruise ships, but if you have the opportunity to meet a returning guest, the first thing (after the destination) they will talk about is the genuine warm, friendly and attentive service they experienced from every member of the English-speaking crew.

While the ships’ design and furnishings are incredibly unique and totally different than any other river cruise ships, Pandaw does have one element of a river cruise that is very much in sync with all of the luxury river cruise lines... the wonderful cuisine found on all their ships.

The cuisine is best described as continental by design, and features an ingenious combination of Western cuisine and local regional specialties, all perfectly prepared and elegantly offered by a well trained wait staff. Unlike their European counterparts, Pandaw includes all spirits, but does not include wines with meals. Wines are very affordably priced, but are not included.

Okay, the food and service are great, they have beautiful cabins, the ships are cool, and you can have as much complimentary wine as you desire – but if you’re on a Pandaw river cruise, you’re probably primarily there for the destinations they serve. On these particular river trips more than any other, the extraordinary destinations Pandaw visits should be the prime reason for such a long journey, irrespective of how wonderful your accommodations might be.

Pandaw Cruises on the Mekong River.
Pandaw has been doing river cruising along the Mekong River in Indochina since 2002, and was the first “Western”-style river cruise line to operate in Vietnam and Cambodia. They operate two ships – the Mekong Pandaw and the Tonle Pandaw — sailing between Saigon in Vietnam and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. For a more comprehensive look at what these two Southeast Asian gems have to offer please read our indepth articles on Vietnam and Cambodia.

Pandaw River Cruises in Mysterious Burma.
Burma gained its independence from Britain in 1947, and after a much-publicized political uprising was renamed Myanmar in 1987. Irrespective of all the negative press, we’re sure you’ll feel safe and enjoy the Burmese people who are very warm and friendly.

Burma is the largest mainland Southeast Asian country and displays the greatest variety of scenery from Himalayan peaks to sun-drenched tropical beaches. We have yet to meet a visitor to Burma who does not feel that this is the most beautiful, friendly and culturally interesting Asian country ever visited. Most of the population lives in three great river valleys encircled by impenetrable, horseshoe-shape mountains ranges. River life dominates the country and to this day is still the main system of transportation, irrigation and from its rich fishing grounds, the principal protein source for the majority of the population.

In the great Chindwin, Irrawaddy and Salween valleys two millennia of Buddhist art, architecture and archaeology survive including, of course, the 3000 standing monuments at Pagan. There is no other Asian country with such a vast and diverse range of cultural sites. Almost everywhere there are temples and monasteries, festivals and ceremonies. The Burmese are a deeply pious people, and Buddhist activities dominate every aspect of life.

The Irrawaddy and the Mekong rivers traverse seemingly vertical mountains, primeval jungles and grassy plains, and each empties into the ocean through vast deltas. A variety of cultures, ways of life and religions are dissected by these great water systems. Along their banks may be found a number of the most significant centers of art and architecture in the world including Pagan in Myanmar and Angkor in Cambodia. Myanmar was once the jewel in the British Imperial crown; the countries of L'Indochine were once French protectorates. Today the respective colonial legacies of both the British and the French may be found in the towns along these rivers. They are all definitely worth adding to your bucket list of “Must See” destinations, and Pandaw River Cruises will take you there in luxurious style, comfort, and safety!

Of the two magnificent destinations, we suggest you first experience Southeast Asia by cruising the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia aboard Pandaw, primarily because those countries are further developed with more modern facilities and capabilities, and are easier to travel to.

The best way to find out more about this wonderful cruise line is to give one of our expert Personal Travel Planners a call soon at 855.255.1200 (or use the "GET A QUICK QUOTE"email option below). They will be able to paint a perfect picture of how this special river cruise line is the perfect venue to discover the rivers of Southeast Asia!


Quick Quote, Pandaw
We know you're eager to start planning your river or small ship cruise vacation!
To help you get started, call and speak to a cruise expert at 855.255.1200, toll free, or submit a 'Get A Quick Quote' for a
Pandaw river cruise — we'll contact you right away to help you select a great itinerary and plan a perfect cruise vacation.


Back to Top


TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Unless otherwise noted, prices and offers are in USD, cruise only per person, based on double occupancy and do not include airfare, taxes or fees. The displayed prices are based on minimum category riverview window stateroom and applicable only to the sailing date(s) shown. Prices for other dates may vary based on the date and stateroom selected. Other than “Hot Deal” offers, price does not reflect any cruise line or Premier savings. Where Premier includes “prepaid tips” in an offer, it applies only to the cruise portion of the trip and not any land portion or shore excursions. To obtain the best price, please use the "Get Quote" button or call one of our river cruise and small ship cruise specialists. Certain discounts or prices may require full payment at the time of booking in order to be eligible. We urge you to book early as river and small ship cruises sell out almost a year in advance. Prices and availability may change without notice and are not guaranteed until a deposit is received and applied to your reservation. Call 1-855-255-1200, for complete details. We reserve the right to correct any informational or typographical errors. ©2010-2023 Premier River Cruises, LLC, a Travel of America Company. All rights reserved worldwide. CST #1015320-40.

You will always get the 'Inside Scoop' on all things cruising when you sign-up to get our great HOT DEALS, email Newsletters, Exclusive Offers, & More!