Travel Saigon to Siem Reap with Pandaw Mekong Cruise 8 Days
RV The Jayavarman Cruise
In 2003, with the Mekong Pandaw, we were the first ship to attempt this extraordinary journey in its entirety surmounting complex bureaucratic and navigational obstacles. In 2004 we brought the former Pandaw III now renamed the Tonle Pandaw over from Myanmar to join the Mekong Pandaw. The two Pandaws explore two countries, two cultures and two ways of life linked by one great river. This is the only luxury cruises vacation on the Mekong River. A shipping link between Saigon and Angkor is immensely practical for the traveller as it makes it possible to connect three important destinations on one trip with easy plane connections at either end: Saigon the exotic Frenchified former capital of South Vietnam, Phnom Penh, the quaint Cambodian capital, and the stupendous World Heritage monuments at Angkor. One need no longer check in and out of hotels and endure bumpy roads to visit these magnificent places.
Sailing on a Pandaw is essentially an outdoor experience. Whilst the staterooms are very comfortable and roomy, passengers prefer to spend their time sitting outside, on the promenade decks or on the vast observation deck above. Unlike other cruise ships every window (except port holes on lower deck) can open. When sailing our passengers sit on deck and become absorbed by great panoramas as they unfold about them. Spellbound, one cannot help but to meditate upon the unceasing human and wildlife activity of these teaming water worlds.
8 Days/7 Nights Saigon to Siem Reap Cruise Itinerary
Day 1: Tonle Sap
The great lake dominates Cambodia and is over 150 Km in length. Here bird life is profuse, and from the middle of the lake one cannot even see the shores. There is a great stillness and tranquility as we pass floating fishing villages. Because of seasonal high winds and varying water levels, we will start our journey one of the following ways:
1. High water, approximately August to November.
At 11: 00 o’clock register at Koulen II restaurant in Siem Reap (1 Street Sivatha Svay Dangkum Commune) to transfer to the ship at Siem Reap Port. Passengers staying at the Victoria Resort and Spa will be collected at 1115 from the hotel. On the way to the ship excursion by motor boat to the floating villages of Tonle Sap. Embark the ship at 1300 and lunch onboard. Cross the great lake in the afternoon and drop the anchor after sunset. Moor overnight at the edge of the Tonle Lake.
2. Low water, approximately November to August.
At 1200 Register at Koulen II Restaurant in Siem Reap (1 Street Sivatha Svay Dangkum Commune) to transfer by coach to Prek Dom on the Tonle River, enjoying a snacks and cold drinks on the way with a stop at Kampong Thom. Passengers staying at our partner hotel Victoria Resort and Spa will be collected from the hotel at 1215. Arrive by 1700 and cruise to Kampong Chhnang for overnight mooring.
Day 2: Kampong Cham - Kampong Chhnang
High Water: Early morning sailing with a brief stop at Kampong Chhnang after breakfast. Cruise all day passing Phnom Penh to enter the Mekong River. Proceed upstream and stop for an afternoon walk at a rural village.
Low Water: Kampong Chhnang is a busy rural port town with bustling markets. Mooring mid-stream, we make a truly wonderful motor boat excursion into the lakeside wetlands that form the mouth of the river. Here a stunning variety of birdlife may be seen, and of considerable interest are the great fish traps. We touch the capital Phnom Penh in the afternoon to change pilots and enter the Upper Mekong bound for Kampong Cham and stop for an afternoon walk at a rural village.
Day 3: Kampong Cham
Morning journey upriver to the hilltop pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey. Dating from the 8th century, these ancient brick structures characterize the architecture of the Chenla Empire which predated the glories of Angkor. Sail back downstream over lunch for an exploration of the Kampong Cham Area. We travel by bus to the 12th century Angkorian temple of Wat Nokor. We continue to the eco village of Cheungkok supported by the French-Cambodian NGO AMICA and the Kampong Cham orphanage, supported by the Pandaw ProBono programme. We make a late afternoon departure from Kampong Cham heading for Phnom Penh. Overnight mid-stream.
Day 4: Phnom Penh
The capital of Cambodia retains its French charm. The city has several impressive wats, including Wat Ounalom, Wat Phnom and the newly-painted Wat Lang Ka. Pride of place goes to the Royal Palace and to the spectacular Silver Pagoda, one of the few places in Cambodia where artifacts embodying the brilliance and richness of Khmer culture were preserved by the Khmer Rouge. The National Museum is another highlight, with outstanding displays of Khmer crafts. An afternoon excursion is arranged to the Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge’s grim Tuol Sleng or S21 detention centre situated in the suburbs of the city then shopping at the Russian market or Central market.
More happily, Phnom Penh has a lively night life, and some passengers choose to dine ashore or try one of the capital’s many watering holes; a favorites being the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
Day 5: Cruising The Mekong - Boder crossing
We cast off for a day cruising in the main Mekong channel, an international shipping route. Today we stop at Prek Touch, a jungle village, to visit fruit orchards, and then set off for the Vietnamese border for the usual formalities.
Day 6: Chau Doc
We travel from the main Mekong channel at Tan Chau down the canals and backwaters by local ferry boat. At Chau Doc we visit a Cham tribal village and a cat fish farm. We make a trishaw ride round this fascinating town of fine French-colonial buildings and bustling market. We return to the ship for lunch and cast off for Cai Be.
Day 7: Cai Be
We take a morning junk trip to Dong Hoa Hiep Island to Cai Be to see a floating market, and go ashore to visit the French Gothic Cathedral and colorful port area, with its colonial buildings, delightful flower gardens and local rice paper manufacturers. We explore evergreen islands and visit the former Imperial residence the An Kiet House. In the afternoon we continue our sightseeing by boat to Vinh Long to visit the Bonsai Gardens and see brick works.
Day 8: My Tho - Saigon
Early morning sail from Cai Be for My Tho, where we disembark at 0830 for coach transfer to Renaissance Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City (8-15 Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1) arriving approximately at 10: 30.
Cruise Departure Dates
Guide services (English language)
Gratuities to crew, main meals ocally made soft and alcoholic beverages, ugged coffee and selection of teas and tisanes, mineral water.
Transfer to the meeting point in Saigon from the ship at the end of a voyage