13 October 2008

Sail the Mekong

Until now, quickly and comfortably sailing up or down the Mekong River between Saigon and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, had been impossible. There was either speedboat service which was fast and uncomfortable, or slow boat service which was very comfortable but took a week.
That is all set to change with the introduction in July 2009 of the new riverboat now being built in Saigon by the international riverboat company Pandaw Cruises. Pandaw is about to launch the RV Indochina Pandaw, with only thirty cabins, and holding a maximum of 60 passengers. The Indochina Pandaw will make a two night journey (up to three a week) along the mighty and massive Mekong River, linking the two large cities of the southern Mekong.
I have personally sailed the Mekong with Pandaw, and can recommend nothing better in all of southeast Asia. You have a mahogany-paneled cabin with air conditioning. Your door opens to the side of the boat and the wrap-around terrace. Meals are a mix of Asian and European foods prepared for a single small sitting. All excursions are included in the ticket price.
This is a great way to see the real Vietnam and the real Cambodia. Watch as life unfolds along the river. Sit atop of the sun deck as the boat glides past villages largely unchanged for hundreds of years. The river really is the only true life-line here, and all life centres around it.
What makes this even better is that the road between the two cities is awful and a very undesirable way to travel. Also, flights are short, but you do not get to experience the river delta region. This is the most productive rice area in the world, and you have to see it from a boat.
There is no better way to combine a trip to Vietnam and a visit to Cambodia than by riverboat.
Lots more information about Pandaw’s new RV Indochina Pandaw can be found here.
Canadians do not need to have a visa for Cambodia before travel. You can buy your visa at the airport or border upon arrival for only US$20. Click here for visa details for Cambodia.
You must have a Vietnamese visa prior to arrival. Click here for visa details for Vietnam.