Asia cruise pioneer Pandaw has announced a new river and ocean voyage that will explore the many fascinating sights of southern Burma, offered on a one-time-only basis, setting sail on 28 February 2019.
The 18 night ‘Delta And Coast - All Southern Burma’ expedition will start with a river cruise around the fascinating Irrawaddy Delta, followed by an ocean-going cruise in the spectacular Mergui Archipelago, from the southern tip of Burma to Yangon. Passengers will travel both by shallow draft wooden ship and lovingly-refurbished 1960s motor yacht.
Pandaw founder and CEO, Paul Strachan said, “This one-off expedition is a unique opportunity to see these rarely visited regions, which are vastly different from each other, yet both full of cultural and scenic interest. The Irrawaddy Delta’s maze of tributaries, villages and ancient trading ports remain untouched by tourism, and paradise can truly be found in the azure seas, coral reefs and thousand islands of the Mergui Archipelago.”
Passengers will depart from Yangon, on RV Katha Pandaw, and soon start to weave through the Irrawaddy Delta’s labyrinth of waterways. Here they will savour the contrasts of indigenous village life and spot a plethora of wildlife.
The ports of call include Pyapon, a lively delta town with bustling docks and market; the former Mon capital of Bogale and the nearby Mein Ma Hla Kyun Wildlife Reserve, home of the saltwater crocodile; Myaungmya, a small township where George Orwell once served as assistant superintendent of police; and Bassein, originally a colonial rice town, now a seaport and the capital of the delta, with charming riverfront teahouses and restaurants.
The voyage then joins the upper delta route used by the old Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, stopping overnight at the attractive river port of Wakema. The next day brings lively riverbanks teaming with activity and a sunset walk along the colourful boulevard of Maubin. On day eight, the ship will cross the Twante Canal, heading for Pandaw’s downtown base near Yangon, for time at leisure and a final night onboard Katha Pandaw.
On day nine, passengers will fly from Yangon to Kawthaung, a culturally varied town with strong Indian and Muslim influences, located on the country’s southernmost tip. Guests will embark the glamorous MY Andaman Explorer, a classic 1960's motor yacht lovingly refurbished by Pandaw founders, Paul and Roser Strachan. The ship features 10 suites, all with sitting room and private bathroom, a saloon, dining room, two teak observation decks and floors of Carrara marble throughout.
From Kawthaung, Andaman Explorer will set sail on the morning tide for Coxcombe Island to explore a secret lagoon, and the next day sail the Loughborough Passage to visit a Mokkein sea gypsy village on Phi Lar Island. The cruise continues with a stop at Tann Shey Island (Lampi Island Marine National Park) to explore the mangroves and spot wild monkeys. On day 13, passengers will spend the day at sea, stopping to swim and snorkel.
The next ports of calls are Bailey Island, known for its pretty bay, and Port Maria in Lun Lun Island, populated by the Karen people. The local government is run by the KNU, and the Baptist Karens are very welcoming. This day also brings the chance to explore the system of bays and creeks reaching inland from Port Maria.
On day 15, the ship will anchor off Mergui (Myeik) for a full day exploring the many architectural marvels of this old British port town. The next day at anchor is to explore Tavoy (Dawei), a little-known but once important town, followed by a day at sea with an island stop to swim and explore ashore.
Arriving into the estuary at Kaikkame, the ship will moor for the day while guests visit the war graves at Thanbyuzayat and explore the important colonial outpost of Moulmein, visiting old colonial churches and a splendid wood-carved royal monastery. This final night, Andaman Explorer will cruise back to Yangon for disembarkation by noon on day 19.
Prices for the ‘Delta And Coast - All Southern Burma’ itinerary start from US$6,095 per person, based on twin share. This includes eight nights on RV Katha Pandaw, ten nights on MY Andaman Explorer, domestic flight from Yangon to Kawthaung, transfers, all excursions as stated, entrance fees, guide services (English language), main meals, jugged coffee, selection of teas and tisanes, local soft drinks, local beer, local spirits, mineral water, crew gratuities, kayaks & snorkelling equipment. International flights are additional.
As the longest established river cruise company in Southeast Asia, Pandaw are undoubtedly the pioneers of boutique adventure for the inquisitive traveller. Pandaw’s small but powerful shallow-draught ships allow the cruise company to reach remote areas that other operators cannot in Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China.