Vacations & Travel - - Tried & Tested - By Sue Wal­lace

Step aboard the RV Laos Pandaw and you are quickly im­mersed in the ro­mance of Asian river cruis­ing at its best. The 10-day cruise from Chi­ang Saen in Thai­land to Vi­en­tiane in Laos, cruises the mighty Mekong River, in­clud­ing the wa­ters around the Golden Tri­an­gle and Myan­mar. Stops at tiny re­mote tribal vil­lages where you meet the friendly lo­cals, two nights at the UN­ESCO World Her­itage site of Luang Pra­bang with its many monas­ter­ies and a visit to the Pak Ou Caves filled with Bud­dha im­ages, are among the high­lights. The sleek boat has 10 spa­cious teak state­rooms with brass trim­mings, large en­suites with qual­ity prod­ucts, soft linen and plenty of stor­age space. The open-air lounge and din­ing area with pol­ished teak deck­ing is my favourite spot to sit and savour views in­clud­ing moun­tains with lush jun­gle scenery and vil­lages. Din­ing is an ad­ven­ture with lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional dishes served (lean and light op­tions are avail­able), along with fresh pro­duce and daily baked bread and rolls from the on­board bak­ery. There’s an ex­ten­sive wine list with pre­mium wines and com­pli­men­tary lo­cal min­eral wa­ter, cof­fee, teas and ti­sanes. As well as the knowl­edge­able on­board guide who takes you on tours, a se­ries of cul­tural per­for­mances, ed­u­ca­tional talks plus cook­ing and lan­guage classes are of­fered. Ex­cur­sions are ex­cel­lent, and you are re­warded with a chilled towel and re­fresh­ing drink on re­turn. There’s noth­ing like watch­ing lively Mekong River life in all its glory play out in front of you. pandaw.com

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