|RV Mekong Pandaw|
SHORTER Mekong itineraries, of only three or four nights in duration, have been introduced by Pandaw River Expeditions, priced from US$704 with "very last minute 20% discount" for departures next month.
Available from Dec 2012 through Mar 2013, the program provides an extra option for Australians travelling in Vietnam and Cambodia.
The trips to or from Siem Reap involve a five-hour coach transfer to or from Kampong Cham, while the excursion up the Tonle River to Kampong Chhnang is by either coach or ship depending on water levels.
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) to Phnom Penh sailings explore the main Mekong channel, with visits to a tribal village, catfish farm and floating markets, and a trishaw ride.
Siem Reap packages include tours of temples, villages and the Twin Holy Mountains.
Meanwhile, the Tonle Pandaw will return to Burma next year to start a weekly rotation cruise out of Mandalay.
Sailing upriver to the Third Defile and then down to Pagan, the route takes in all major sights in addition to lesser-known stops such as the pot-making villages.
“This cruise alleviates the need for any hotels at Mandalay and Pagan, which solves a huge problem for the traveler, and the need to go in and out via Yangon,” which has become gridlocked with traffic in recent times, Pandaw said.
The cruise will connect with direct international flights to Mandalay.
In 2013, Air Asia, Bangkok Air, Thai and Silk Air are scheduled to have direct flights to Mandalay from Bangkok and Singapore.
With ten vessels exploring four countries, Pandaw is the largest "luxury" river cruise company in Asia.
Fares include English-speaking guides, crew gratuities, meals, locally made alcoholic beverages soft drinks, tea, coffee and mineral water.
For information, see pandaw.com.