Experiential river cruising provides an opportunity to discover new lands, cultures, and people, deviating from the path well-traveled. Intrepid travelers recognize that going off the radar has its perks, and cruising the Mekong River, as it dissects intriguing Laos, is as rewarding as it gets. Fascinating visions of the country’s inherent beauty are perfectly captured by river cruise operator Pandaw on their ship Sabaidee Pandaw. If you can forsake white-sand beaches, cathedrals and guidebook narrative, this landlocked country nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia is a consummate cruise selection.
Sabaidee Pandaw: An Introduction
Pandaw’s Sabaidee Pandaw embraces the essence of far-flung river travel in comfort, competently curated for authentic engagement. A transfer from Chiang Mai, Thailand (or Chiang Rai) to the awaiting vessel initiates an inspiring first impression of the region’s diversity. The Golden Triangle confluence of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos is a virtual collision of raw jungle landscaping and remote serenity, mercifully escaping the intrusion of urban sprawl.
This 28-passenger vessel has been locally crafted with lightly colored but deeply grained teakwood accents that contribute to a crisp, contemporary look. All staterooms, regardless of location, feature double-glass entry doors that open directly onto the promenade deck. With beds that can be configured to either a queen or two twins, the smartly furnished rooms follow through with the richly grained wood theme.
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Creeping along the lifeblood Mekong River, the hypnotic imagery of the jungle conjures up a mix of instinctive curiosity and seductive cinema. Laos is deeply rooted in tribal traditions, and local authenticity is on full display with escorted visits to Ban Dan Village and Ban Huy Lam Pan, home to the ethnic Hmong people. Giddy school children rush to the vessel, anxious to exchange smiles and giggles with the arrival of visiting cruise guests.
Afternoons are an exhilarating blend of mountain….
By Steve Leland