Work has started on building a new river vessel in Asia for Pandaw River Expeditions.

The Sabei Pandaw is due to enter service in a year’s time on the Mekong River.

It will become Pandaw’s third ship on the Mekong in Laos and the 17th vessel in the fleet.

The hull is expected to be completed at the Loon Prasert shipyard in Laos by January and the remainder of the build by summer, ready to start sailing along the Mekong from November 2018.

The ship will have 14 cabins and an open plan saloon with flexible indoor or outdoor dining.

The double deck vessel will be 45 metres long and is designed to meet the navigational challenges of shooting the rapids in the Laos gorges, according to Pandaw. It will have a shallow draft to enable year-round passage across Yunnan into China.

The Sabei Pandaw will operate a ten-night Laos Mekong itinerary from November 11, 2018 before moving to China’s Tunnan province to run 14-night Laos to China sailings from Seprtember 2019.

Pandaw founder Paul Strachan said: “There can be no waterborne experience to match sailing through Laos.

“The fast river with its continual spate of white water, the jungle clad peaks, the gorges; then there is the friendly welcome in every village, the ethnic diversity and the cultural riches.

“Traversing the remotest parts of four very different countries you see all of South-East Asia, lost and timeless.”