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RV Kalaw Pandaw Review

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Editor Rating
Very Good
Kristie Kellahan

Pandaw ceased operations in October 2021

The Pandaw fleet pays homage to the glory days of river cruising in colonial Burma, when the Irrawaddy River was known as The Road to Mandalay and the landscapes inspired writers such as George Orwell and Rudyard Kipling.

Today, the fleet resembles upscale versions of the ships of the past, decked out in teak and brass. Steamer chairs on the sun deck are the perfect spot to settle in with an afternoon G&T and watch the world float by.

Cruising hard-to-reach stretches of the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers in Myanmar, the RV Kalaw Pandaw offers an adventurous, yet luxurious, way to enjoy the golden land of pagodas and temples. The seven-day Bagan to Mandalay cruise is a leisurely way to take in the essence of what Myanmar has to offer; a shortened four-day itinerary is also offered.

With a maximum of just 36 passengers, the double-decked ship doesn't feel crowded. An easy rapport develops with the local crew, who are exceptionally kind and attentive. Food is very good, and the free-flow of local beer and spirits is well-received.

Excursions and enrichment activities are focused on engaging with the local culture, religious monuments and village life. It is an eye-opening trip and one that will leave passengers thinking about Myanmar's past, present and future, long after they disembark.


Smaller size means a relaxed vibe and superb personal attention from the Burmese crew


Cruisers miss out on features such as a pool, spa and fitness room

Bottom Line

An elegant ship, great attention to detail and interesting cultural experiences

Fellow Passengers

Pandaw's cruises in Myanmar tend to attract an over-50 demographic, with passengers coming mainly from the UK, Australia, the US and a few from Europe. Passengers on the seven-night cruises are time-rich, with an interest in exploring the culture of Myanmar's towns and smaller villages. Those who choose the shorter four-night itinerary are looking for a short break on an interesting river with plenty to see and do.

English is the official onboard language.

With its generous policy of waiving single supplements on several select sailings throughout the year, the RV Kalaw Pandaw is popular with solo passengers, as well as those travelling in groups of odd-number size (for instance, a couple travelling with a friend or family member in a separate room). Some couples even like to take advantage of the 'no single supplements' offer to travel together, in separate cabins.

During the school holidays, families with children are encouraged to take advantage of the 'kids travel free' promotion. During these times, the onboard demographic skews younger.

RV Kalaw Pandaw Dress Code

Passengers are free to dress as they please onboard this ship, with a relaxed, informal atmosphere at all times. It's rare to see anybody dress up for dinner.

The only exception is 'temple dress' required for the frequent excursions to pagodas, temples and other religious sites. At these times, it is requested that men and women dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees. It is acceptable to wear shorts and tank tops if a sarong or longyi is used to cover up.

Shoes must be removed during temple and pagoda visits. For convenience, it's a good idea to wear thongs/flip flops for these outings. Bare feet end up very dirty after walking around the dusty temples.

The sun can be punishingly hot in Myanmar, so do pack an adequate sun hat and sunscreen. Early mornings can be surprisingly cool, even well into March, so bring along a warm jacket, jeans and a wrap.

RV Kalaw Pandaw Inclusions

It would be entirely possible to not spend a cent onboard this ship. Tips are included in the cruise fare, as are shore excursions, Wi-Fi, all meals and most drinks (soft drinks, local spirits, beer, tea and coffee).

Although gratuities are included, many passengers choose to give a bit extra to the hard-working Burmese crew and freelance guide who travels with the group. A dollar or two is appreciated by shore excursion drivers (coaches, tuk tuks, horsecarts).

The currency onboard is US dollars, Burmese kyat or credit cards for amounts over US$30 (Visa works best, Mastercard works most of the time).

Add-ons such as pre- or post-nights in Yangon or Inle Lake, as well as domestic flights, can be arranged and paid for directly through Pandaw or your travel agent.

Find a cruise

Any Month
RV Kalaw Pandaw Cruiser Reviews

Fascinating, if at times fraught, cruise through over 2000 years of history.

Pandaw is an excellent company and the Ganges has more to offer in the way of palaces, temples and ancient ruins than any other river in Asia.Read More

2-5 Cruises

Age 70s

Fantastic River Cruise

I am a repeat Pandaw customer and was expecting high quality but this 7 night cruise on the Irrawaddy exceeded my expectations.Read More

2-5 Cruises

Age 60s

Amazed and pampered

My handholders, as I called them, were so gracious and kind, really looking out for me, and also chatting with me about their country, taking pictures of us.It was even nice to see a new crew member who was also as equally excited about the siteseeing as us, coming with us and taking pictures of his own.Read More

10+ Cruises

Age 40s


This cruise in the high rainfall month of July could have been anything, however the very little rain we had did not interfere with our activities and excursions, unfortunately for Myanmar the rain arrived and produced devastating floods a few days after we left so we were very lucky.The accommodation was of a high standard and well serviced, nothing seemed to be too much trouble for the staff, we were supplied with bottled water as we left on excursions and on returning our shoes were removed as we boarded, cleaned and returned to us within a few minutes.Read More

First Time Cruiser

Age 80s

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