Ngapali (pronounced Napally and said to be named after the Italian city of Naples) is Myanmar’s premier beach destination. Located on the Bay of Bengal coast in Rakhine State, its main feature is an idyllic stretch of white sand and palm tree-lined coast, with a number of resorts spread out next to traditional fishing villages.

There are also some new hotel developments on the beaches nearer the airport (which is named Thandwe after the nearby inland town, but is in fact located closer to Ngapali – about six kilometres north of the main beach).

Ngapali is about relaxing and enjoying the sun, but other activities include taking trips on local fishing boats; kayaking; snorkelling or scuba diving amongst the brightly coloured fish; and cycling or motorbiking down the beach and around some of the local villages.

To find out more about water sports, go to the Ngapali Water Sport Centre website. Ngapali also has an 18-hole golf course which is located between the main beach resorts and the airport. Surfing is possible during the monsoon season, which is the quietest time of year in Ngapali. This can be a lovely time of year to visit, but the choice of hotels is restricted – and it can rain for extended periods of time. Also, swimmers should be aware that currents can be dangerously strong at this time of year.

A sleepy fishing village with hotels spread along its beautiful white sand shore, Ngwe Saung (pronounced ‘Way Saung’) is a perfect place to relax after a few weeks’ travelling around Myanmar. One of the most laid-back places you will find in the country, the real joy here is to sit back and take in the sun’s rays and picturesque beach views, or try the catch of the day in a local restaurant.

The beach stretches for several kilometres and Ngwe Saung village can be found towards the northern end; it has a host of places that serve a variety of fantastic seafood dishes, including crab, shrimp, lobster, and various types of fish, as well as shops selling locally-produced handicrafts.

The walk to the village from some of the hotels at the southern end of the main beach can take up to an hour – although it is worth it not only for the food, but also to catch the sun setting over the Bay of Bengal. Some of the hotels along the way also have beach front restaurants. If you are feeling lazy after a filling dinner, it is easy to get a motorbike taxi back to your hotel, or you can hire your own.


Of the three main beach resorts on Myanmar’s Bay of Bengal coast, Chaung Tha is the most down to earth, and you can find the largest number of locals on holiday here.

The beach by the village itself lacks the white-sand perfection of Ngapali and Ngwe Saung, but it has several offshore islands to explore (by hired boat) and snorkel around, and offers the same delicious range of fresh seafood as its pricier rivals, as well as a busy market to explore.

A lovely white sand beach, where you will probably be one of the only people around, can be found 15 minutes’ walk (or a shorter bicycle ride) to the north of the village.

Note that most hotels shut during the low season from May to October, although a limited number remain open throughout the year.

12 kilometres west of Dawei is Maungmagan beach (also spelt Maung Ma Kan), with its beautiful setting of hills rising straight up from the shoreline. There are a host of simple restaurants serving fresh seafood here and a 30 minute walk south will take you to a characterful fishing village with small boats nestled in its harbour – and some picture-perfect beer stations where you can relax and take in the views and sea breeze

Maungmagan is quite unlike the more tourist-focused beaches you will find on the Bay of Bengal coast. Here, most people are local and bathing practices are somewhat different – you may find the people wading in their jeans and shirts, particularly on public holidays; foreigners in swimwear are not frowned upon, although they may get some friendly attention. One unfortunate side-effect of the lack of tourism development is that refuse is not always cleared; this is not unsafe, but can sometimes be a little unsightly.

There are two hotels at Maungmagan beach, the Maung Ma Kan Resort (located on the beach) and the more foreigner-friendly Coconut Guesthouse and Restaurant (located 500 metres behind the beach); a tuk tuk to Maungmagan beach will take around 45 minutes from central Dawei and cost K10,000. Dawei itself has a wide choice of hotels.