Chindwin River Cruise by RV Pandaw

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Myanmar Chindwin River Cruise by RV Pandaw, The loveliest of rivers

Pandaw Cruise: We will ply the Upper Chindwin weekly between Monywa and Homalin.

The Chindwin River Cruise by RV Pandaw. Tripadvisor

Itinerary Overview

The loveliest of rivers. In the past we only offered this during the monsoon due to water levels, but now our ultra low draught Pandaws can sail through to February. The river carves it way through mountains and forests and we stop at delightful unspoilt little towns. Our objective, Homalin is the capital of Nagaland and close to the India border. We will ply the Upper Chindwin weekly between Monywa and Homalin. Monywa is under three hours from Mandalay and the car transfer is included with the cruise. Homalin is now connected by scheduled flight with Mandalay.

Travel Map

Pandaw Cruise Myanmar

Detailed Itinerary

  • 1. Upstream
  • 2. Downstream

Day 1: Monywa

You will be picked up between 08.00am-08.30am on embarkation day. Your transfer Mandalay to the pier in Monywa is included in the cruise package.

Afternoon excursion to see Thandboodi Temple, Bawdhi Tahaung statue and the night market in the evening.

  • Meals: Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

Day 2: Phowin Taung

In the morning, coach to the Phowin Taung Caves, where we will admire beautiful mural paintings and Buddha statues in riches. Beyond Monywa we enter the Upper Chindwin..

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 3: Cruising

The river narrows and the forested hills fall away to farmland we pass a number of attractive villages like Kanee where we can stretch our legs.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 4: Mingkin

Mingkin was rediscovered by Paul Strachan in 1987 and described in some detail in his book Mandalay: Travels from the Golden City. It remains for Paul the most art historically interesting site in Myanmar (more so than the now spoilt Pagan) with its Konbaung court style teak monasteries sumptuously decorated. Mingkin may be described as the Luang Prabang of the Chindwin. The gateway town for the Chin State, we explore Kalewa with its markets and quaint wooden architecture.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 5: Mawlaik

Morning explore Mawlaik replaced Kindat as the administrative capital but ironically the Myanma refused to move there from upstream Kindat. It was mainly settled with the company houses of the by the Scottish owned and run Bombay Myanmarh Trading Corporation in the 1920s and 1930s. There are many splendid ‘Dak Bungalows’ set around a verdant golf course. Mawlaik and the other towns of the Upper Chindwin can only be reached by boat so cars are few. There is a dreamy otherworldly quality to such places and truly one feels that one has travelled there in the Pandaw time machine!. Afternoon we pass the mouth of the Yu River which drains the Kubu valley that provided the route for a Lieutenant Grant to march to the relief of the Manipur garrison when the chief commissioner of Assam was massacred in a local rebellion.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 6: Sitthaung

Sitthaung was the final resting place of a number of IFC steamers scuppered there in 1942 in an ‘act of denial’ from the advancing Japanese who were a matter of hours behind. We hope to find remains of these ships as we have in the past at Katha on the Irrawaddy. It was from here that the survivors of the Japanese invasion marched out to Tamu on the India border. Pantha was an important oil refinery belonging to the Indo-Burma Petroleum Co (Steel Brothers).

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 7: Toungdoot

Toungdoot or Hsawng-hsup in Tai, is an ancient Shan enclave which in British times still had a ruling sawbwa complete with palace and court. It will be interesting to see what has become of the royal family and their home and to see these Shan people so far from their Tai-Shan homelands. On the way to Homalin, the furthest navigable point on the Chindwin for vessels of our size. Alister McCrae wrote of his visit there 1935 ‘I loved the atmosphere of quiet and peaceful living there. At night I could hear greylag geese as they came in to the flooded land around us from far away north’. Bird in 1897 says little other than that Homalin is the headquarters of a township, but has very little trade’. Until we get there and explore the place there is not much we can say!

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 8: Homalin

Disembarkation and transfer to Homalin airport.

  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Accommodation: n/a

Download Itinerary

Day 1: Homalin

Flight to Homalin and transfer from airport to jetty at Homalin.
Flight from Mandalay: We will pick you up from your hotel in Mandalay between 09:00 and 10:00 This domestic flight is included in the cruise price.

Transfer to Homalin, the furthest navigable point on the Chindwin for vessels of our size. Alister McCrae wrote of his visit there 1935 ‘I loved the atmosphere of quiet and peaceful living there. At night I could hear greylag geese as they came in to the flooded land around us from far away north’. Until we get there and explore the place there is not much we can say!

  • Meals: Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

Day 2: Toungdoot

Toungdoot or Hsawng-hsup in Tai, is an ancient Shan enclave which in British times still had a ruling sawbwa complete with palace and court. It will be interesting to see what has become of the royal family and their home and to see these Shan people so far from their Tai-Shan homelands. On the way to Paungbyin. Patha was an important oil refinery belonging to the Indo-Burma Petroleum Co (Steel Brothers).

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 3: Sitthaung

Sitthaung was the final resting place of a number of IFC steamers scuppered there in 1942 in an ‘act of denial’ from the advancing Japanese who were a matter of hours behind. We hope to find remains of these ships as we have in the past at Katha on the Irrawaddy. It was from here that the survivors of the Japanese invasion marched out to Tamu on the India border. We pass the mouth of the Yu River which drains the Kubu valley that provided the route for a Lieutenant Grant to march to the relief of the Manipur garrison when the chief commissioner of Assam was massacred in a local rebellion.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 4: Mawalaik

Explore Mawlaik replaced Kindat as the administrative capital but ironically the Myanma refused to move there from upstream Kindat. It was mainly settled with the company houses of the by the Scottish owned and run Bombay Myanmarh Trading Corporation in the 1920s and 1930s. There are many splendid ‘Dak Bungalows’ set around a verdant golf course. Mawlaik and the other towns of the Upper Chindwin can only be reached by boat so cars are few. There is a dreamy otherworldly quality to such places and truly one feels that one has travelled there in the Pandaw time machine! Then the gateway town for the Chin State. We explore Kalewa with its markets and quaint wooden architecture.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 5: Mingkin

Mingkin was rediscovered by Paul Strachan in 1987 and described in some detail in his book Mandalay: Travels from the Golden City. It remains for Paul the most art historically interesting site in Myanmar (more so than the now spoilt Pagan) with its Konbaung court style teak monasteries sumptuously decorated. Mingkin may be described as the Luang Prabang of the Chindwin. And we pass a number of attractive villages like Kanee where we can stretch our legs.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 6: Monywa

Entering the lower Chindwin where the river widens and the forested hills fall away from farmland, we pass a number of attractive villages. We will explore Monywa and make a trip to the Thanbodi Temple with its million Buddha images.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 7: Phowin Taung

In the morning, coach to the Phowin Taung Caves, where we will admire beautiful mural paintings and Buddha statues in riches.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 8: Monywa

Disembark at Monywa IWT jetty at 08.30 am and we transfer you to Mandalay.

Arrival at Mandalay airport is approx. 12.30pm. If you arrange your individual flights them please don’t book them earlier than 14.00pm for domestic or 15.00pm for international. Or arrival at your hotel in Mandalay approx. 13.30pm.

  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Accommodation: N/A

Download Itinerary

Important Notes:

  • Please note that water levels drop dramatically as of December and we might not be able to reach Homalin. You will be well rewarded with alternative excursions. We will be cruising up to Mawlaik and return to Kalewa where you will be flown out to Yangon or Mandalay.
  • The itinerary for this expedition is indicative only. As we travel to remote areas, changes to the itinerary will inevitably occur. A flexible approach is required if you book this cruise.

Departures

2021

2022

Upstream

13 Nov, 27 Nov, 25 Dec

8 Jan, 22 Jan

Downstream

06 Nov, 20 Nov, 19 Dec

1 Jan, 15 Jan, 29 Jan

Important information

What's included ?

Transportation

River Cruise, Car

Accommodation

Accommodation on Luxury Pandaw Cruise (7 nights)

Meals

7 Breakfasts/ 7 Lunches/ 7 Dinners

Price Includes

Price Excludes

  • Transfers from/to meeting point to/from the Luxury Pandaw Cruise
  • Crew and guide gratuities
  • Visa fees
  • Personal expenses
  • Other beverages than those stated under inclusion
  • Medical services
  • Spa treatments
  • Port and anchorage fees
  • All other services or items not listed under inclusions

Cancellation Policy

  • From time of booking until 61 day prior to departure non-refundable deposit
  • From 60 days and less till departure, no show, late arrival or early return 100% cancellation fee

Customer Reviews

6 customer reviews

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6 reviews
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TRAVELER TYPE *
10 Irrawaddy River Cruise - upriver from Mandalay to Katha, downriver to Pagan
Your review
The cruise boat is small with only 5 cabins as the navigation of that part of the river does not permit a bigger boat. The cabin stretches across the boat and there is a river view on either side, so sunrise and sunset photos were amazingly easy.

The Pandaw cruise package includes daily visits to places of interest, whether historical, religious or simple village life giving a wide view of the culture of the country. Every evening at evening cocktails, a brief is given of the next days journey.

All 5 cabins were occupied, with only 8 of us, 3 couples and 2 singles - there was no single supplement on my particular trip. The entire staff comprising the Captain, Engineer other crew member and Purser, Assistant Purser and Housekeeper (10 in all) plus the guide were amazing. Nothing was too much for them. Every hand helped when the boat docked for any of our trips, to get us off and on to the boat, Captain included.

The food was excellent, each day the salads were varied as well as the main and dessert courses. My trip was from 23 Dec to 2 Jan and it covered both Christmas and New Year. The buffet was over flowing in each case the Chef clearly trying to outdo himself on each occasion.

The boat was generally parked in a quiet location at night, so that the passengers could have a quiet sleep in a place of safety chosen by the Captain, hidden from any eyes.

New Year's Eve was celebrated on a sandbank, chosen again with safety of the passengers in mind, fully kitted out with paper lanterns, music etc, and the crew too were able to join the passengers for the night out. Paper lanterns, of different animals, bigger than 5' in height were set off into the sky in celebration by the passengers. We danced the night away till after the dawn of the New Year - what a wonderful memory.

The Captain was shy and unassuming, however hugely competent, always keeping in mind the comfort and safety of the passengers. One afternoon, in trying to avoid another boat stuck on a sandbank, there were many which shifted regularly, the current carried the boat into a sandbank. With great competence, despite the current against him, the Captain freed the boat after a 2 hour non-stop effort, to which there were loud cheers.

Very regularly there would be a member of the crew with a long marked pole, at the front to guide the Captain through the shifting sandbanks. I found it fascinating.
TRAVELER TYPE *
Group of Friends
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Lower Ganges Cruise
Your review
The boat cruise from Kolkata upstream returning after seven days. The service and food were very good. The cabins clean and comfortable but a bit cramped. The daily excursions were fascinating, meeting the locals and witnessing real cottage industries. This experience could not, I believe, be replicated on a land tour. On top of that you get to meet and interact with your fellow passengers. As there are few cabins there is almost a party atmosphere.
TRAVELER TYPE *
Group of Friends
Show more
Upper Irrawaddy river cruise with Pandaw
Your review
This was a ten day cruise from Mandalay up the river to past the 2nd Defile (to near Bhamo) and back to Bagan.

The people who work for and run Pandaw have a fantastic approach to everything they do and to every detail. They went out of their way to ensure that we enjoyed our cruise and felt safe and secure.

Pandaw is the only company that sails up to the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy and for six days of the ten day cruise we saw no other tourists. This type of adventure comes with some risk, in this case the risk of the boat getting stuck on a sandbank or two. Watching the crew getting us off a sandbank was an experience in itself.

Not everything goes to plan or schedule, so if necessary the crew improvise to find new excursions and/or alternative modes of travel (Burmese version of a speed boat). Most impressive was their ability to maintain a sense of perspective and humour even when things went wrong. This was typified by our last night when the captain moored the boat on a sandbank and the crew set up a “sandbank” farewell party. All the crew joined the party, dancing and singing with the passengers.

We travelled on the Kindat Pandaw, a reproduction of the original vessel built in 1886, it has a very shallow draft to allow it to sail up river. With 18 cabins it is relatively small and compact. However, as there were only 18 passengers on board it felt spacious and relaxed.

The teak cabins and bathrooms are small but perfectly designed with lots of storage space. We did not note any real difference between the upper and lower cabins.

There are a number of areas for passengers to sit and relax while on board, including an indoor air-conditioned lounge. The only negative was a couple of smokers on board, both of whom sometimes ignored the request to smoke at the end of the boat. Pandaw should seriously consider banning smoking.

The food was fabulous especially the Burmese salads at lunch time. Mohinga (a traditional Burmese breakfast dish) for breakfast every day would have been welcome. While we appreciate that the kitchen needs to cater for all tastes but these days I think they could get away with a bit more spicy food …

The excursions were generally very interesting but could be a bit slow due to the mix of passenger’s ages and fitness. However, we were able to mix things up by going on bicycle rides or independent walks. The crew managed to cater for most people’s needs providing additional guides and chaperones as needed. For one elderly passenger they provided a personal aid to help them on excursions, the aid even carried a chair so the passenger could rest as needed.

As I said at the start it is the crew who make this a great adventure. In particular, the Purser (Jimmy) and the Guide (Brian) provided great leadership.

We travelled as a group of five and everyone thought this was a great trip and highly recommend it.
TRAVELER TYPE *
Mature Couples
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Pandaw Cruise down the Irrawaddy - perfect
Your review
A 10 night cruise on Pandaw Boats on the Irrawaddy - excellent staff, lovely cabins, good food, and interesting visits could not recommend more highly. And beautiful country and people.
TRAVELER TYPE *
Young Couples
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Pandaw River Cruise - Would recommend without hesitation
Your review
I spent 7 nights on the Bagan to Mandalay Packet with Pandaw Cruises (RV Kindat) and had a fabulous time. They happily answered my queries and they have quite a selection of cruises which offer ‘no single supplement’.

Myanmar tourism has been severely affected by the press coverage in relation to the Rohyingya crisis and I had second thoughts about whether I should be travelling there. However, I am so pleased I did. All the people I came into contact with had no connection with the political situation but their livelihood is being seriously affected by it. They were, without exception, lovely, caring people. As a result of the downturn in tourism Pandaw chose to use a smaller boat for the cruise. They fortunately have a number of boats of different sizes. I know that some of the much bigger international cruise lines are simply cancelling their tours altogether as they do not have the facility to use a smaller boat. The RV Kindat can take 28 passengers but we were only 12 passengers to 17 crew - so you can imagine the level of service we received.

The boat itself is lovely, built along the lines of the old boats that used to ply the Irrawaddy in the early 19 centuries. It certainly brought back images of the British sipping their gin and tonics, or perhaps a cocktail, on the deck in times gone past – which is exactly what we did each afternoon. The teak everywhere was lovely with French double glass doors and then French double shuttered doors to every cabin. Looking at some of the other larger cruise boats that passed us, whilst no doubt extremely comfortable, just didn’t seem to have the same ambience with their aluminium sliding doors to the cabins. The cabins were a good size and your view was excellent whether you were on the lower or upper deck. The bathroom, whilst not big, was a decent size and the shower itself was a very good size with excellent water pressure and hot. My bathroom at my hotel in Singapore at the stopover on the way home was smaller than mine on the boat. The rooms were serviced 3 times a day,

The food on board was wonderful (we actually had 2 head chefs on board) and encompassed both Burmese and other international cuisines. The salads at lunchtime were a highlight – I never knew salads could be so tasty. At breakfast there was the typical buffet available but about another dozen hot dishes cooked to order. Dinner was four courses each night.

There were excursions every morning and afternoon (apart from two afternoons where we had talks or displays on board) and our guide was very good. He knew how much information to impart without completely overloading you. We visited pagodas, temples, markets, monasteries, weaving, jade, gold leaf and pottery workshops. At no time did we feel pressured to buy anything if we were visiting a workshop – we could just watch the demonstration of how things were made. Several evenings there was entertainment provided – local dancing, marionette puppets etc.

Crew from the boat always accompanied us on the organised excursions, waiting to help older passengers on uneven paths or with taking shoes on and off at all the temples if needed, towels to clean your feet afterwards or just those wonderful frozen towelettes to cool yourself down when it got too hot.

When the ship was docked you could happily wander ashore to have a look around if you wished and one of my favourite memories was watching some of our crew play a game of cane ball (rather like volleyball ) against another crew.
TRAVELER TYPE *
Solo Travellers
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Tripadvisor Reviews 9.8 out of 10 based on 785 votes.