Pandaw river cruise review: Exploring the Lower Mekong
As I glanced around, I saw people of all ages approaching me. Some were on their mobile phones, talking or... Read more
Paul Strachan, Burma historian and local resident, established Pandaw in 1995 and lived through the joys and traumas of life in this extraordinary company during a fraught period of history. So if you are looking for ‘authentic’, this is the product for you.
If you have time to spare, read Paul Strachan's 'The Pandaw Story' and learn about his extraordinary twenty year history at the helm of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. Whilst many new entrants to the market have brought new ships onto the rivers in recent years, Pandaw is something rather different.
The company's roots lie in a company established in 1865, which operated one of the largest privately owned fleets in the world, with over 650 vessels on the rivers of Burma.
Today, 15 ships purpose built for the company, hand finished in brass and teak by traditional craftsmen, operate the Irrawaddy and Chindwin and throughout Burma; the Mekong in Cambodia, Red River and Halong Bay in Vietnam and the Upper Mekong in Laos.
The vessels range from small to very small indeed, and whilst comfort is important, the experience is all about the relaxed style and friendly atmosphere. The company is a significant local employer, with thriving charitable work and a strong family ethos.
As a pioneer, Pandaw have lead the way with itineraries and programmes that others have followed. Now their challenge is to keep finding new and more exciting trips and experiences. And as Paul Strachan the owner says: 'As other ships get bigger our ships are getting smaller!' That means shallow drafts and the ability to go farther than the competition. And at the same time, the style on board is changing, with al fresco dining, more facilities, and a more informal style.
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