The Story of Pandaw: Inside one of Asia’s pioneering river cruising providers.

River Cruising has always been an in-demand part of Wendy Wu’s tour range, for group and independent travellers alike. Riverbanks rich with culture and ever-changing scenery make this style of travel increasingly popular.

Pandaw Expeditions run some of our most popular river cruises. We asked Laura, from Pandaw’s marketing team – what makes a Pandaw cruise the right choice for our customers?

The Pandaw traveller

Why would you choose to spend a lot of time in your stateroom, when you can be sitting on one of the promenade decks or the observation deck. These are the perfect places to take in the sights and sounds of everything around you. That’s the reason you’ve travelled… right?

Pandaw suits an informal, relaxed atmosphere, allowing you to retreat to a quiet part of the ship and simply enjoy the sights around you. Additionally, dine al-fresco every night or join our off-ship excursions. You can even explore on your own if you prefer!

Passengers relaxing aboard a Pandaw cruise

To sum up a Pandaw customer in the words of owner Paul Strachan, they are “intrepid travellers, willing to forgo connectivity for adventures, happy to be entertained by their surroundings and assured of a luxurious, congenial, unforgettable experience”. If that sounds like you, then you may already be considering a Pandaw river expedition as your next trip away!

Style of cruising

As a pioneer of Asian river cruising, Pandaw designs expeditions to showcase some of the most untouched areas of South East Asia for travelers.

Travelling by river ship often gives visitors the chance to reach places are usually inaccessible by car, creating experiences that a bit more authentic than what mainstream companies can offer. The whole experience of taking a journey by boat is both relaxing and rewarding, allowing travellers to step off the boat to explore a new place at least once every day, and while on-board, taking in the sights and sounds of the fascinating local life and diverse wildlife lining the riverbanks.


Starting off in Burma 21 years ago, Pandaw’s collection of itineraries has grown to include expeditions on rivers in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, and China.  Pandaw has expanded its offering in Burma, now covering the southern region of the country by coastal cruise ship. Up until very recently this has been off-limits to tourists.

Pandaw also operates boutique ships with partners. Now you can explore the River Kwai in Thailand, the Amazon in Brazil and Ecuador and the Brahmaputra, Hoogly and Ganges in India.

Irrawady River, Myanmar

Check out our great range of itineraries including Pandaw expeditions, or request a copy of our of Asia River Cruising brochure.

Want to know more about Pandaw? Keep reading for some fascinating history.

Scots merchants established the original Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in 1865. By the 1920s the company ran over 650 vessels on the rivers of Burma.

In 1995, Burma historian Paul Strachan invited an unlikely assortment of eccentrics and adventurers to join him in an untried new boat. The boat would venture up the Irrawaddy River in Burma. This would be the first time foreign tourists had travelled on the Burmese thoroughfare since the Second World War.

Against all odds, the trip was a huge success, world quickly spread. Strachan he was running a business in one of the world’s less friendly environments. He named it the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in honour of the company that ran Burma’s river transport when it was an outpost of the British Raj. The company now trades as Pandaw, after Paul Strachan discovered an original Clyde-built paddle steamer which was restored in Burma.

RV Angkor in Halong Bay

In 2016, the company has grown to be the largest river cruise fleet in South East Asia. They currently have 15 ships in six countries. Pandaw was also the first company to offer river cruises along the Mekong River in Cambodia since French Colonial times.

2 thoughts on “The Story of Pandaw: Inside one of Asia’s pioneering river cruising providers.

  1. I recently sailed with Pandaw on The Irrawaddy through Burma.
    We’re thinking of sailing with you next year.
    May I ask if I became a member , because I understand that members receive a discount, thank you! , on subsequent cruises?
    Please could you send me my members number. Thank you, looking forwards to travelling with you again, Chris Pollock.

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