I was shocked and buzzing at how amazing Myanmar’s beaches are.
So much so I spent two weeks just exploring them, relaxing and generally having a lovely chilled time after I had been running around the rest of the country on my group tour. It was time to stop and take longer than just a moment to enjoy the beauty.
The two most notable Myanmar beaches for me were Ngapali in Rakhine and Paradise in Dawei. Both, gorgeous white sands but with very different vibes. Ngapali beach was beautiful, but pretty busy with tourists. A number of impressive hotels have popped up along the main beach front which means some prices have hiked up and often things are charged in US dollars, not the local currency, kyet. That’s when you know it’s touristy in Myanmar.
In total contrast, Paradise beach in the south of the Dawei peninsula has just one resort with 12 bungalows. There’s no phone signal, no WiFi and it’s all about disconnecting from the world, embracing the beauty of the surrounding area and just switching off – total bliss. Here’s my guide to both, depending on how much time you have and of course what kind of beach life you fancy.
How to get there:
Option 1/ fly into Thandwe Airport, I flew from Yangon, not sure why because it’s actually so expensive. Internal flights in Myanmar are around £100 but if you’re not into night buses the option is there. The airport is about a 15/20 min ride to the main beaches. Grab a taxi, organise a hotel transfer orrrr make friends with people who already have a hotel airport pick up (that’s what I did haha), and get a free ride!
Option 2/ take the overnight bus from Yangon. Choose the VIP ticket (which is still cheap, about £10 from memory), and you’ll be sound asleep whilst hurtling through the Myanmar’s countryside. Those buses are really comfy; you get a blanket and a big reclining seat and they stop for toilet breaks and food!
Tip: I always bring ear plugs and an eye mask for those rides, dress comfy too. Keep your valuables with you at all times; either in a money-belt or small bag tucked into your person whilst you sleep.
Option 1/ fly, I’ve actually just looked at flights and it’s like close to £200 for a return flight Yangon to Dawei. Don’t recommend that but if you’re ballin’ then treat yo self haha!
Option 2/ Overnight bus to Dawei, again book a VIP bus. There’s a state border crossing during this journey so the bus assistant will ask for a copy of your passport before you board and you’ll have to get off and show it to the state border control guys. They usually just wanna see your name and visa so don’t panic if you, as a foreigner, are the main focus of the ID check. I was the only foreigner on my ride down there but I saw a few others at the rest stops who had used different bus companies. Nothing like Thailand tourist travel.
Regardless of your journey to Dawei there’s a bit more of a journey to get to Paradise beach. Usually your guesthouse can help, I stayed at Relax Guesthouse and the team there were really helpful. (There doesn’t seem to be any hostels in Dawei yet as it isn’t frequented by tourists so much). There’s a bus service that takes you to Autcha What village, about 2.5 – 3 hours south of Dawei, costing 2,500 kyets.
There’s detailed instructions on the website here, but make sure the driver knows you wanna go to ‘Paradise Beach Bungalows’ and they’ll drop you at the entrance of the jungle. From here you can pay 2,000/3,000 kyets for a local to drive you through the jungle (around 15 mins) on a motorbike taxi. It can be a hair-raising experience but try and enjoy it haha!
Tip: getting to the beach from Dawei can take longer than expected. The bus down to the village is usually packed with locals getting dropped off in all sorts of places together with boxes and deliveries too. I found the journey back to Dawei much faster as it was just three of us from the bungalows heading that way.
Where to stay:
There’s a whole host of guest houses and hotels but I found and chose to stay at ‘WeStay @ Chillax Hostel’, which was perfect for meeting like minded travellers. The owner is really chilled and friendly and breakfast is included; we spent a good couple of hours each morning chatting over pancakes and coffee – dreamy!
Paradise Beach Bungalows – this is the only place to stay so no options here. Definitely book beforehand, and get confirmation before you arrive cos there isn’t anywhere else to go if there’s no beds left! When I stayed they did tents on the beach, but only if you know to ask. I have since heard that the beach dogs were eating them so it that might have been stopped. Check out their website for the latest rates for the bungalows depending on the time of year you visit.
Tip: if you can leave your bigger rucksack at the guesthouse and just take a smaller one to make the journey a little easier definitely do it – depending on how long you’re planning to stay there.
Things to do:
Not keen on lying down alllll the time? At Ngapali you’re in luck. There’s a few activities to keep you entertained. Theres two beaches, the bigger main beach is adorned with hotels and resorts, but if you head further north there’s a smaller beach which has food / drinks too at a cheaper price!
- Explore via bicycle – 15/20 min to the north beach, the hostel has these to use for free and the road up isn’t busy so it’s pretty safe.
- Get a massage – say no more, they’re cheaper on the north beach and very nice.
- Have some seafood – loads of restaurants do fresh seafood which is perfect when you’re by the sea.
- See the fishermen at sunrise – with fresh seafood in mind, get up at 6am and see all the fishermen coming in with their over night haul. It’s a family affair as once they get to shore the women and kids are helping bring in buckets of fish, sorting, selling and drying them out across huge blue nets on the beach. Fascinating to watch – a true local experience to be part of first thing.
- Sunset – I mean sunsets at the beach are always incredible, the ones at Ngapali were some of my fave on my trip.
- Go skinny dipping – I mean there’s maximum about 20ish people there at one time, nows your chance to get your kit off without a big audience hahah!
- Enjoy the stars – a twinkly blanket in the sky, just gorgeous. Having lived in London, being in places without any light pollution is very special for me.
- See the sparkly plankton – I don’t know if these guys are seasonal or what. Just after sunset when it’s really dark is the best time to head into the water and just experience the magic. It’s like swishing around a load of fairy lights in the water – a really special scene, especially with that starry sky above you.
- Explore the local area – if you’ve been brave enough to motorbike down to paradise beach and have one to explore with, there are a few other beaches in the area to check out. Ask advice from the locals on where to go!
- Chill the F out – with no internet or wifi you’re away from the usual realities of life. Just enjoy it.
Each destination offers a unique experience, both beautiful in their own way. Which one would you visit?!
If you have any questions please let me know!
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