We were so excited to hit the road out of Ho Chi Minh City and get to the RV Tonle Pandaw and, my goodness, it didn't disappoint.
Greeted by the staff once on board, who already knew our cabin number before we gave them our names, we were escorted to our room and our luggage followed us shortly afterwards.
The Cabin - Main and Upper Deck
Following on from the theme across the whole ship, with teak floors and doors, the cabin was a great sanctuary after an excursion. The beds could be made into double or twin configuration. I thought the storage solution was great, with draws and a small cupboard space for your suitcase within the bed frame, making the most of the space in the cabin.
There is a dressing table, bedside tables and a full-length wardrobe. With a lovely bathroom, as well as a full-length window looking out on the river, I can't think of a nicer way to enjoy a Mekong River cruise.
Saloon Bar - Upper deck
An indoor bar area with comfy chairs and board games all round – I would imagine it’s the perfect space for a sailing day on a longer cruise. This wasn't somewhere I spent a great deal of time, as I enjoyed being out in the open air with the world sailing by.
The Restaurant - Main deck
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all taken in the restaurant, where everyone can sit at the same time. There is no fixed seating, which made for a lovely social atmosphere, giving everyone the chance to sit with different people and get to know everyone on board. At breakfast, there was a buffet choice of cereal, toast, eggs cooked to order, fruit and yoghurt – you couldn't wish for more.
Lunch was a similar affair with a large selection of salad on the buffet and main course which is ordered at breakfast time. Again, dinner was ordered at lunchtime to allow the staff time to make preparations. We also had a couple of family-style meals which encouraged guests to chat with everyone around the table. The food was delicious and, with so many fresh fruit and vegetables, I felt like I was on a detox.
The Lower Deck
Here you will find the gift shop, library, the purser’s desk and film screening area. There was a mixture of films shown while we were on board, from a history of Pandaw River Cruises to a history of Vietnam. The books in the library can be taken back to your cabin or up to the Sundeck.
I have saved the best until last; my favourite area and where I spent most of my time whilst on board. Mostly covered from the hot sun, with the exception of a small part at the end for guests who want to soak up some rays and top-up their tan. There is the bar area here where tea and coffee are always available, as well as alcoholic and soft drinks. There are sun beds for the ultimate relaxing sundowner and this is where any local entertainment took place, as well as the port talk for the following day.
The ship is small and intimate but authentic to the destination, with teak furniture throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip with Pandaw and would recommend it to anyone looking for an immersive and unique Mekong River cruise.