When people think of beaches in Southeast Asia, they usually think of Bali or the idyllic islands located in southern Thailand or the Phillipines. But not many know that Myanmar is actually full of some of the most renowned beaches in the area too. Though not as commercialized and definitely not as crowded as the others in Southeast Asia. Many of them are still hidden gems like the ones in the Myeik Archipelago or even Ngwe Saung beach. With some good thick sand, clear waters and affordable hotels and resorts, they are worth a visit.
After spending 8 months living in Myanmar, I didn't get a chance to get away from the hustle bustle of Yangon or the temples of Bagan. But as I plan to pack away from the country, I got the chance to explore the beaches and I jumped to it. Most of the beaches require a flight from Yangon or a long drive so be prepared to shell some bucks and time to reach there. And it will be worth it.
Located 6-7 hours from Yangon by road, Ngwe Saung is easy enough to reach, and it's perfect for those looking for a quick weekend getaway. The small fishing village of Ngwe Saung is interesting to explore, but beyond the beach, there really isn't much to do. Perfect for those wanting to experience rural Myanmar in a relaxing and secluded setting. Stay at Ngwe Saung Yacht Club. Approx 80$ per room for the night including breakfast. The hotel has good clear views of the sea along with a private beach area and lots of activities to do.
Close to Ngwe Saung, a few hours drive from Yangon, Chuang Tha is hugely popular with locals and tourists alike. The local playground of Chaung Tha is where families go to enjoy Myanmar beaches. Picnics, football games, water sports, elephant riding, and kite-flying create a bustling atmosphere. This is the easiest beach to get to from Yangon, via a six-hour bus ride or a short flight to nearby Pathein.
Supposedly named for Naples by a homesick Italian, Ngapali beach is one of the most well-known in Myanmar. Tourist hype has already hit Ngapali Beach, sitting pretty on the waters of the Bay of Bengal and is known for turquoise waters and luxury stays. Bit pricier than other nearby beaches, the easiest way to get to Ngapali Beach is to take an hour flight from Yangon, to Thandwe. From there, most resorts offer a pickup service from the airport or you can catch a taxi.
Myeik, is a group of over 800 islands off the southern coast of Myanmar. Some of the country's most remote and stunning beaches lie in this area. But it's less the beaches and more the water surrounding them that attracts the most visitors each year. Myeik is home to some of the most incredible diving in the region. Some beaches like Kyun Phi Lar, Lambi Island, and Macleod Island are a hidden treasure in themselves. Each of them untouched, unspoiled and gorgeous. The whole archipelago is surrounded by many beautiful smaller islands and there are so many that some don't even have a name. Myeik Airport (MGZ) serves Yangon, Kawthaung, and Dawei but flights are expensive. A minibus to Dawei is 12,000 kyat while an air-con bus is 8,000 kyat; the latter continues to Mawlamyine for 18,000 kyats and Yangon for 20,000-25,000 kyat depending on the company. It takes around six hours on a reasonable road to Dawei, while Mawlamyine is 13 to 14 and Yangon at least 20 or so.
Dawei is a sleepy town characterized by colonial architecture and not much else, but it's the beaches in the vicinity. Infrastructure isn't great on the Dawei Peninsula yet, but you can explore easily over a couple of days. Located just outside of Dawei in southeast Myanmar, Maungmagan is the country's second-most historic beach (after Ngapali). In Colonial times it was a popular spot with English visitors, and now it remains popular with locals in the area. Located 12-miles from Maungmagan Beach in southeastern Myanmar lies Nabule beach. Ideal for relaxing without crowds, and picturesque enough to make for a perfect day trip from Maungmagan. Though there are train and bus routes, flying to Dawei from both Mandalay and Yangon is by far the quickest option.
Tips for Visiting Beaches in Myanmar
If you do happen to travel to Myanmar during monsoon season, from May to October, most of the beach resorts will be closed. You'll just make the season in April, which also coincides with the Water Festival, where you'll get a fun drenching from locals. Accommodation and Flights are pricey. Be ready to shell out more. Food Poisoning is very common and easy to have. Careful of what you eat and where you eat. One thing to keep in mind is that the locals are very religious and quite conservative. So it can be a culture shock for westerners as this is not the ideal place for flaunting the bikinis. Make sure if you need any prior approvals to visit as rules keep changing often
Myanmar is surely an adventure and slow travelers dream. It is still isolated, beautiful and untouched. Many people may not realize that Myanmar has over two thousand kilometers of coastline. As the country is also one of the less visited countries in the region, I think it is a perfect time to go exploring before it gets too crowded like others.