SE Asia

SE Asia is the latest hotbed for river cruises through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar (Burma). A river cruise is the best way to get out into the countryside and experience the culture of these countries little known to Americans. There is one company, Pandaw, that has been building ships and sailing on these rivers for many years. Several of the companies new to the area have just leased ships from them. Others have commissioned to have ships built for them.

For pretty much all inclusive small ship cruises, prices in this area of the world are very reasonable - $300 to $500 per person per night is common.

The companies sailing here include:

AMA Waterways - has two ships that they own in SE Asia. They are both luxurious - large (all over 200 sq ft) cabins and beautifully decorated public areas.

Aqua Expeditions - provides itineraries on luxury river ships on the Amazon and Mekong rivers. Large cabins, luxurious appointments, a casual atmosphere, and immersion in the local culture are other hallmarks of this company.

Avalon Waterways - has a single ship on the Mekong which has been specially designed for this river. It's shallower draft makes it the only ship currently in the area able to cruise from Siem Reap in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. They also offer one of the longer more inclusive itineraries in the area - their standard trip starts in Bangkok with a flight to Siem Reap (3 night hotel stay), a 7 night cruise ending in Ho Chi Minh City and a 2 night hotel stay there.

Pandaw - is a rebirth of the company that cruised the rivers of Burma before the 2nd World War. They have 10 ships which are all updated copies of the original colonial steamships that have been plying the area rivers since the late 1800's. While most companies are just focused on the Mekong, Pandaw has itineraries on many of the other rivers in SE Asia.

Viking Cruises - offers itineraries on both the Mekong and the Irrawaddy in Burma. They include, similar to Avalon, several hotel nights at each end of a week long cruise. Their two ships are similar to the others in the area - copies of Colonial steamers that were so popular in the early 20th century.