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Top Beaches in Myanmar

When reflecting on beaches in Southeast Asia, you might be inclined to think first of Thailand.

As far as Myanmar is concerned, most people only think of the beautiful decorated palaces or golden pagodas, the long history of Bagan temples, or the glittering Inle Lake; but this doesn’t mean that there are no beautiful beaches in Myanmar.

Ngapali Beach is one of the most famous and perhaps also the number 1 beach for the first-timer to Myanmar.But there is more than just Ngapali.

Five Beaches in Myanmar

Name Ngapali Ngwe Saung Kanthaya Chaung Tha Mergui Island
Location Thandwe, Rakhine State, southwest of Myanmar Ayeyarwaddy Region, west of Yangon Rakhine State, west coast of Myanmar Ayeyarwaddy Region, west of Yangon Kawthaung, the southernmost part of Myanmar
Suited for First-timers to Myanmar Backpackers Anyone who plans to visit Ngapali and has extra time Anyone who wants to know more about local lifestyles Anyone who has enough time
Arrival Thandwe Airport hosts regular flights from other main cities in Myanmar 5-6 hours’ drive from Yangon about 100 km (60 miles) from Ngapali Beach 5-6 hours’ drive from Yangon Kawthaung Airport only receives flights from Dawei, Myeik and Yangon
Popularity Well known by westerners Known only by few westerners Popular among local people Best vacation beach resort for Burmese Well known by diving enthusiasts
Crowds Relatively few people, even during the peak season (November to April) Crowded with backpackers during the peak season Crowded with locals during weekends Crowded with locals during weekends and holidays and holidays Few people can be seen on the beach
Visiting times November to February November to April November to February November to February (especially working days) December to February
Budget (including hotel, tour and food expenses) Mid-range costs around US$220 per day Mid-range costs around US$150 per day Mid-range costs around US$120 per day Mid-range costs around US$100 per day Mid-range costs around US$230 per day

Ngapali Beach

Location: Thandwe (formerly Sandoway), Rakhine State

Best time to travel: November to February

Transport: Some domestic flights from the main cities. Return flights only depart to Yangon. It takes 18-24 hours by bus from Yangon.

Features: white sand, quiet, peaceful, natural

If you are looking for a beach free from crowds and clamour, to enrich your trip to Myanmar, Ngapali should be your first choice. It’s located on the Bay of Bengal coast in Rakhine State, southwest of Myanmar. Its name is not Burmese in origin, but Italian; a homesick Italian named the town after an Italian city, Naples.

The beach is 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) long, with soft white sand and clear sea water, fringed by palm trees. If you think it’s no different from any other beach, consider its special features: it’s relatively quiet and peaceful, empty and unspoiled.

There are no noisy bar streets, no vendors chasing you to try and sell things. Lying on a couch sunbathing or listening to the sound of the waves is the ultimate in relaxation.

Various activities here are also satisfying. Swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, boat fishing and riding a bike around the fishing village, are all possible and popular. But if none of these excites your interest, how about a round of golf?

At the end of a day, as you sit at a seaside restaurant, ordering a cocktail, enjoying a spectacular sunset and a sumptuous seafood dinner, you’ll feel like this is the life. Just imagine this as your normal routine!

Ngwe Saung Beach

Location: Ayeyarwaddy Region

Best time to travel: November to April

Transport: 5-6 hours’ drive from Yangon

Features: wide range of accommodation, relatively fewer tourists in the high season, authentic, good value for money

If you’re looking for a place to relax not far from Yangon, Ngwe Saung Beach might be the ideal place for a short beach holiday. It takes 5-6 hours to reach Ngwe Saung from Yangon by bus.

The silver-sandy beach stretches 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) and is regarded as the longest in Myanmar. Looking around, you don’t see many people, even in the high season. It seems like the whole beach has been hired out to you. .

Maybe the beach here is less romantic than others, but it is more closely linked with the lives of local people.

Perhaps the quality of sand and water is not as nice as at Ngapali and the beach facilities are not yet completed, but Ngwe Saung Beach still enjoys a few advantages. The most obvious is value for money.

At Ngwe Saung, you can find all kinds of accommodation to suit your budget, from low-end, to mid-range, up to high-end. And the general costs are lower than at Ngapali Beach. How about a sumptuous seafood feast for about $20 per person? That’s what you can’t imagine at Ngapali.

In addition to the usual activities such as swimming, snorkeling and cycling, you can also explore the islands around. Lover Island, which you can reach on foot, is the landmark location of Ngwe Saung Beach promoted on many brochures or posters.

You can reach Bird Island in about an hour by speed boat. On the island, you can buy seafood from the local people (after bargaining) at a very acceptable price then have lunch there cooked in the local way, maintaining the original taste of the seafood.

Kanthaya Beach

Location: Rakhine State

Best time to travel: November to February

Transport: about 100 km (60 miles) from Ngapali Beach, 2 hours by car

Features: natural, reef, offshore islands, coastal life, less developed

Kanthaya Beach is not far from Ngapali Beach, so you can visit here if you plan to go to Ngapali anyway. It may not, however, be worth planning a special trip just to go to Kanthaya.

You can take a boat to visit the offshore islands and reefs. Kanthaya Beach itself is home to many tropical birds. The beach stretches 4.5 kilometers. Its golden sand is a little gritty, not as welcoming as the soft white sand at Ngapali.

You can’t book a hotel here in advance; but don’t worry, you can find a room here after you arrive, since there are not many tourists.

Chaung Tha Beach

Location: Ayeyarwaddy Region

Best time to travel: November to February (especially working days)

Transport: 5-6 hours’ drive from Yangon, not far from Ngwe Saung Beach

Features: less developed, accessible by local people, authentic

This is not a so-called holiday beach, but may be better described as a family vacation resort for locals. Many Burmese drive their families here at the weekends.

Chaung Tha reflects more the everyday lives of local people than other beaches. You will see locals playing guitar, playing football, having a picnic, or enjoying fireworks at night, on the beach. It's a great opportunity for you to learn more about local life.

If you choose to come here, please don’t come with very high expectations. You might feel dismayed by the garbage on the roadside after a weekend or a holiday.

You might also be disappointed by the hotel facilities; the main customers here are not foreigners, so the facilities will not be perfect.

But if you just want a place near Yangon with a beach and sunshine, you can take a chance and visit here. You might be touched by the lives and hospitality of the local people.

Mergui Island, Myeik Archipelago

Location: Kawthaung

Best time to travel: December to February

Transport: Several Myanmar airlines offer morning flights departing from Yangon Domestic Airport and arriving in the city of Kawthaung

Features: Sea Gypsy villages, an unspoiled, isolated, perfect base for scuba diving and snorkeling

More than 800 islands are scattered like jewels on the Andaman Sea and Khayinkwa Island is one of them, in the Myeik Archipelago, about 75 kilometers from Kawthaung – the southernmost town of Myanmar.

The beach on Mergui Island is perhaps not as long as others, but what sets it apart is its isolation. There is only one hotel on the island, so you can imagine the honorable treatment you will enjoy.

This is one of the world’s premier diving destinations, so we strongly recommend you explore the marine life here. One of the best-preserved reef systems is also in this region. Other popular activities are kayaking, trekking and exploring Sea Gypsy villages.

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