Imagine floating down one of the greatest rivers in all of Southeast Asia; gazing over your deck, watching Irrawaddy dolphins swim by, monkeys swinging from tree to tree, all while you sip champagne as the sun sets over the magnificent Mekong River. Welcome to a day on the life of a Pandaw River Cruise, the best of all the Mekong river cruises.

Mekong River Cruises - Pandaw - The Mighty Mekong River

When it comes to luxurious river cruising, there are dozens of options, but we chose Pandaw and boy are we happy with our decision. This boutique luxury river cruise line specializes in bespoke river cruises around Southeast Asia. With twelve beautifully crafted Pandaw ships to choose from, we chose the ultimate river cruise in Southeast Asia, The Mekong River. While you can choose from upstream or downstream, we chose the splendors of the latter, with an adventure from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.

After a few days of exploring the splendors of Siem Reap, we boarded our luxury river cruise for a week of culture, gastronomy, and luxurious adventure.


Every single person on the Pandaw River Cruise aims to please. From the managerial staff to the spa, the bar crew to the maids, everyone made our stay with Pandaw extremely enjoyable. On this specific cruise, Pandaw employed two guides for the two countries we visited. In Cambodia, we had a local guide to educate us on the various locations. When we visited Vietnam, a new guide boarded our ship to educate us on his own country.

With only 32 guests on our specific journey, the Pandaw staff paid keen attention to every individual on the ship, making for a bespoke experience for all.


Bedecked in luxurious colonial décor, the Pandaw river cruises are impeccably adorned. A bevy of sun loungers marinate on the sun deck while colonial-style chairs beckon you to relax on the outer verandas.

Mekong River Cruises - Pandaw - beautiful sunset on the Mekong

Every room has a plush king size or two double beds. Rich wooden floors adorn all cabins and decks to make this elegant cruise incomparable.

Mekong River Cruises - Pandaw - Elegant top deck


Calling the expeditions that Pandaw curates “tours,” doesn’t begin to do these adventures justice. Every single day, Pandaw has a morning and afternoon option to authentically explore a city or village along the river. With over 7 stops in 7 days, we had a bevy of exciting escapades to choose from.

Mekong River Cruises - Pandaw - Floating Fishing Village

With day trips such as the infamous killing fields outside Phnom Penh to visiting a Cambodian school to a dance party in a local village, Pandaw Cruises offers adventures for everyone.

Mekong River Cruises - Pandaw - Children along the Mekong

We’ve been on many cruises before, many of which made us feel like tourists and not travelers. As travelers of the world, Pandaw gave us the opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in a culture.

Mekong River Cruises - Pandaw - Vietnam Market

Back to the dance party in a village because this experience was too good to not discuss further. We pulled up to a remote village with no electricity, no running water, something outside of our gilded, sheltered western world. This is what true travelers look for – not some replication of home, but to immerse yourself in the way others live around the world.

Mekong River Cruises - Pandaw - Giving gifts to children

We disembarked the ship to a bonfire that Pandaw set up in a remote village in Cambodia along the Mekong River. The Pandaw team set up music and drinks for everyone to enjoy. People from around the world young and old not only co-existed, but made friends. We may not have spoken the same language, but we did connect on the ability to start a memorable dance party. For hours, we danced our hearts out, giggling and laughing amongst new friends. We feel grateful for the opportunity to authentically immerse ourselves in a culture, far away from tour buses and gringo restaurants.

Mekong River Cruises - Pandaw - Party with a local village


As an all-inclusive river cruise, Pandaw specializes in creating delectable cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A formal dining room hosts most meals with an array of selections including a salad bar, starters, main course, and delicious desserts.

But that’s not at all! Pandaw also curates special evenings outside of their in-ship restaurant. On our first evening, we shared a candlelit dinner outside along the river. The master chef barbequed savory surf and turf, serving a memorable and delightful meal.


When it comes to river cruises, there are a bevy of choices to choose from. For the ultimate in 5-star luxury cruising coupled with authentic, rich, cultural experiences, look no further than Pandaw Cruises. The staff, the ship, the excursions, and the overall atmosphere were unparalleled.

Mekong River Cruises - Pandaw - Village Children - Cambodia

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Mekong River Cruises - Pandaw - deck bell
Thank you to Pandaw River Cruises for hosting us as their guests. As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely our own.