The first beach that tourists to Myanmar often hear about is Ngapali: the gorgeous white sand, turquoise waters, and luxurious hotels. Some of the biggest names in luxury resorts can be found here: Hilton, Aureum, and Amata. Located in Rakhine State in the west of the country, it is a relaxing sanctuary ideal for those who can afford to splurge. There are pristine waters, fresh seafood, and plenty of beach-front resorts in which to relax. For those who are looking for more adventure, local cultural tours can also be arranged. To get here, fly from Yangon to Thandwe.
Ngwe Saung is a popular choice for expats and locals looking for a weekend getaway. There are more upscale resort options in the north of the country, but the south is an ideal retreat for backpackers, with its laid-back atmosphere. It’s a six-hour bus ride from Yangon, so it’s the easiest beach in the country to get to for most tourists. Ngwe Saung is the alternative to nearby Chaung Tha beach, which is equally nice but has a more local vibe–it is more popular among the Myanmar people. They’ll often camp out here, with bonfires, drinking, and singing until the morning light.
Kanthaya, or ‘Pleasant Beach’, is mostly undiscovered. It’s not as sophisticated as Ngapali or as accessible as Ngwe Saung. It is eight hours by car from Yangon to Gwa and Kanthaya, past small coastal towns with long stretches of undeveloped palm-lined beaches. You’ll find basic accommodation at Kanthaya with virtually no other foreigners, so this place is the ultimate private beach.
Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago
Myeik is every diver’s dream. A collection of 800 or more deserted islands, the beaches of the Myeik Archipelago are pristine, flat and untouched for miles. Here, you will find some live-aboard diving opportunities, but mostly expensive island-hopping tours. The white beaches are surrounded by jungle, full of birds, monkeys, and lizards. The snorkeling is amazing, and you’re sure to see many colorful fish, coral, and sea creatures. The Myeik Archipelago is not for the faint of heart but is surely an adventure of a lifetime.