November 2018 – latest news is that foreigners are struggling to rent motorbikes. The authorities are putting a stop to it. Focus is closed. That’s going to change things. The beaches are still there. Getting to them under your own steam is going to be harder.
Previously Updated for 2017.
If you are are thinking about staying in a bungalow on any of these beaches you need to book ahead. As far ahead as possible. Accommodation is in short supply. The local agent I work with can help.
This post, originally from March 2014, was updated in 2016 and just been updated again for 2017. This is where I was lucky enough to spend most of February, March and April 2016. And a week in December. This information has also appeared in print as Stephen’s Guide. Issue 1 is now a soggy collectors’ item. You may still find Issue 2 to 4 – or copies – available in Dawei. Issue 5, the 2017 Edition is out now. The information here is the latest I have. If you know better please get in touch. There is a map further down this page.
I think the best accessible beaches in Myanmar are on the Dawei peninsula. [Updated for 2017]
Dawei, now only 12 hours from Yangon and 10 hours from Bangkok via Kanchanaburri by road (click here for info), is a very pleasant gateway to an astonishing set of empty and as yet (almost) completely undeveloped beaches. Certainly – and by a long way – the best beaches I have been to in Myanmar. Perhaps the best in the region. You can be alone on miles of sand and swim in the clearest of seas. For now.
The only fly in the ointment is the shortage of accommodation. Only a few places have a foreigner licence. A number of places are struggling to get a foreigner licence. On the south of the peninsula demand is out-stripping supply at the moment. You need to book ahead. For the very latest information and help email firstname.lastname@example.org
I’d always thought that the pot of gold at the end of Myanmar’s tourism rainbow must be the eight hundred plus islands of the Myeik Archipelago, imagining a clear-sea-white-sand nirvana to match that of Thailand’s islands but without so many tourists. It is possible now, without special permission but at some expense, to visit a few of the islands (see note on Myeik below) but, for the foreseeable future at least, there is no easy, sensibly priced access to the most interesting islands or accommodation on them.
But there’s no need to archipelago .. because right now to the north and south of Maungmakan and especially on the super-beautiful, rural Dawei Peninsula, you can find the tropical paradise beaches you are looking for.
Only in the last four years has it been possible for foreigners to travel freely in this area. In 2014 only a few who made it here. Numbers are now going up noticeably, not least because of the proximity of the Thai border at Htee Kee. In 2014 these beaches were in their virgin state. By 2016 things were changing. Developments are afoot. Almost all of the roads have been significantly improved or work has started to improve them. On some of the beaches land has been cleared or bungalow building has started. New roads have been cut to previously inaccessible beaches.
But it still takes a bit of an effort (though less than it did) and skill to get to these beaches. The road conditions are very poor in places. So long as that’s the case it will be a good while before development spoils this area. But come soon if you want to see it at its best.
First of all a word of advice. About 15km north-west of Dawei is the locally well-known, and pretty enough, but by local standards somewhat disappointing Maungmakan Beach. It is busy with beach restaurants and used to be very dirty. Cleanliness has improved since a fire, spread by litter, destroyed seventeen of the restaurants in 2016. If you’re looking for fun with day-tripping locals, this is the place for you. If you’re looking for true tropical beach paradises it’s definitely not. Those beaches are on the Dawei peninsula.
A welcome change is sensibly priced access to an island off the coast. One company now offers fully inclusive day trips from Dawei to Longlon Boc island for $60 going via San Hlan. There is some good snorkelling on the east side of the island at low tide. If you’re interested email email@example.com.
Lovely, clean Dawei is the best place to base yourself for the great beaches around Launglon. Foreigner-friendly beach bungalow options on the super southern part of the peninsula do exist but they are in short supply.
One is out of the way at Sin Htauk Beach, a great spot but not a good place to explore much more of the peninsula from. It has had problems with its permissions and may or may not be open now. Bungalows are open, with all necessary permissions and much more accessible, at San Sa Aw near to Aut Kyauk Wap village. Myin Kwa Aw resort, close to Shin Maw Pagoda, reopened and closed again early in 2016. It looks unlikely it will open again anytime soon. Work started in early 2016 on bungalows at Po Po Kyauk (Grandfather Beach) near Nyau Pyin but they are sadly closed at the time of writing. To find out the current situation email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discrete, sensible, low-impact free camping, while strictly ‘illegal’, has been possible in some places. If you’re thinking of camping be sure the read the Notes later on. In fact .. See Notes at the back for more detail on all this ..
Hopefully the pictures here of the peninsula beaches speak for themselves (even if I think they don’t really do the experience of being on the beaches justice). The photos amongst the text – except one – were taken in 2016. The ones below the text in 2014. Except for the people who live and work on some of these beaches and in fishing villages we saw no people at all in 2014. I saw a few this year. The sand ranges from white through silver to golden. The sea from turquoise through blue to emerald green, pretty clear in most places, crystal clear everywhere else.
If you want to ask any specific questions on detail then feel free to contact me directly by emailing email@example.com
If you would like help planning your trip email firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaches – North to South : Part 1 : Near Dawei, Maungmakan and Near Maungmakan
About 15km north-west of Dawei is the well-known (locals may expect you to be heading there) but disappointing and often dirty Maungmakan Beach. It’s a popular spot but if you’re looking for a tropical beach paradise then this is not the beach you are looking for. See note below for more info.
North of the peninsula and easy enough to reach by motorcycle from both Maungmakan and Dawei are some very attractive beaches.
23km north of Maungmakan is the very lovely Nabule Beach. Unfortunately the road to get there is worse for being partly ‘improved’. It’s a somewhat horrible, long, dusty, bumpy ride on a mostly boring road meaning that for now Nabule is low on my list of recommendations. If you do go, don’t miss the – temporarily paused – truly ambitious, perhaps imaginary, Dawei Seaport project en route. At Nabule be sure to walk as far up the beach and around the rocks as you have time for.
12km south of Maungmakan, near Myaw Yit Pagoda, is San Maria Beach and a couple of others that hint at what’s on offer on the peninsula itself. The new road being built (so far just cut, no tarmac, up and down skilled riding in places) from Kan Pa Nee (the village just before San Maria beach) directly connects Maungmakan with Pa Nyit (45 mins) on the peninsula proper. This is both good and bad news. It probably means Maungmakan style litter at currently pristine Pa Nyit. But it also makes for a great circular day trip : Dawei via Maungmakan to San Maria and Myaw Yit Pagoda then on to Pa Nyit and via Launglon to Dawei.
Beaches North to South : Part 2 : Near Launglon
The almost full-service town of Launglon 35 minutes away from Dawei is the jumping off point for a cluster of great beaches within motorcycle-striking distance which offer the best mix of accessibility, local sea life, natural beauty and emptiness. In the centre of Launglon a new market is being built near where the pick-ups stop. On the third 90 degree turn is the highly-recommended Myo Ma Café and 100m along from there on the left there is a restaurant that does a pretty good lunch (they do takeaway). Unfortunately there is not a guesthouse in Launglon.
Fast improving tracks head west over or between the hills from Launglon and the main road that runs the length of the pretty peninsula. Finding the way can be half the fun and the relative inaccessibility (though that’s reducing) of these beaches is part of what makes them so appealing. With the information here and a bit of initiative on your part you will have no trouble finding the beaches. I recommend using google maps satellite images to check out where the tracks join the main road and reach the beaches. I’m not advising anyone who is not confident on a motorcycle (experience-confident, not bravado-confident) to follow these tips or to attempt these routes.
Pa Nyit : One of my favourites. A stunning, long stretch of empty golden sand backed by trees that offer good shade. Not a fishing village so the beach is clean and very quiet. There is good bird watching here. Approached on a rough road (20 minutes) that leaves from the centre of Launglon.
In Launglon the road turns 90 degrees right in front of the new market being built and then 90 degrees left again and then 90 degrees right once more just in front of Myo Ma Café. Have a coffee. When the road turns 90 degrees left again about 200m from the café continue straight on instead on a smaller road all the way to its end. Then turn right and then after a few hundred metres left, in front of the monastery, onto a track which is ooredoo-signed (in Burmese only) to Pa Nyit. As of January 2016 this track is much improved. It’s unformed and needs a bit of care on the flat but it’s now concrete all the way up and some of the way down the hill. The trickiest bit by far, for now, is the last bit.
Once over the hill there is a junction. Left to Shan Maw, straight on to Pa Nyit and its amazing unspoilt, kilometre long golden sand spit beach. For how long unspoilt though? A resort site has been cleared at the north end though nothing has been built yet.
At the south end of the beach is the entrance to a lagoon. In 2014 I swam across to and around the rocks on the other side of the lagoon to a small beach beyond. I was able to find a path and climb back over the small hill. I remember that there were sharp shells on which I cut my feet getting back into the water to swim back to the main beach.
Right at the north end of the beach there is a pagoda and small monastery on the rocks behind which a new road has been cut into and over the small hill to a previously unseen and very secluded medium sized golden beach (above). It’s a steep beach. The water gets pretty deep pretty quickly here. The story goes that this beach is owned by Thandar Shwe (who is the daughter of Senior General Than Shwe) and that she is building an upmarket resort. The land (166 acres they say) behind the beach has already been cleared but when I was there in April ’16 there was not much else happening. There are signs that it will be a private resort but I was able to walk right in. Local children told me the beach is called Thin Baw Pyeq which translates as broken boat which relates to the sinking here of a British navy ship during one of the Anglo-Burmese wars. So until it’s renamed for marketing purposes, let’s call it Shipwreck Bay. Stop Press. It looks like all work has stopped here.
There is another similar-sized beach and a smaller one just a bit further up the coast from Shipwreck Bay. I’ve not been to them yet.
Pa Nyit is also now accessible via the new road (see above) being built to connect it with Kan Pa Nee and then Maungmakan. That’s progress of a sort (see above).
Shan Maw : (Above) Taking the left turn just after the top of the hill on the road coming from Launglon puts you on the (improved in places by being better cut and widened but still pretty tricky) track to the fishing village of Shan Maw (there is a sign) and a third village. Just after a bridge on this track is the turn off to the left to the third village. Don’t go that way, carry straight on to Shan Maw because that track is the most difficult of all, scoring 4 out of 5 for difficulty even 5 out of 5 in places. You can walk along the beach from Shan Maw to the third village if you wish. It’s golden sand at Shan Maw. The beach is steep. The view is great. Small fishing boats bob about near the shore. A few fisherman work on the sand.
San Hlan is a very pretty working fishing village on a bay and spit that leads to an almost island. It’s not so small a place, you can get food and water here. Some travellers report not feeling as welcome here as in other villages. Boats to the offshore islands used to leave from here.
The best beaches to reach – by boat or at low tide by walking through the water behind the spit and taking the path up over a small hill for only about five minutes – are to the north of the village.
There are also two beaches to the south that you can reach by walking around the rocks. From the southern end of the second larger beach (lots of drying fish) there is a very pretty path up and over the headland to Tizit (20 to 30 minutes walk). I was able to get a boatman to take me back to San Hlan for 5000 kyat. Makes for a great round trip.
The road (unformed but well cut) to San Hlan leaves from the southern edge of Launglon where the main road first straightens out again before veering to the left. At a very obvious fork in the road take the right hand option. It’s ooredoo sign-posted in English to Lat Khat Taung. After a while it climbs up and over the hill and scores 3 out of 5 for difficulty taking 20 to 30 minutes. The hardest bit is at the top. It’s dusty.
At the very crest of the hill is the entrance to Lat Khat Taung Pagoda which is at at 595m. In 2014 it was very tricky, dusty three mile climb up to – surprise! – a gold-painted boulder with great views over the coast and inland. In early 2016 the road to the pagoda is being concreted. It’s now finished all the way up.
Tizit and Pu Lon (from memory) are two villages behind and on a very long white sand beach approached on the easiest, but still a bit tricky in places, road of these three from a small village (Yin Ko?) about five miles south of Launglon. There is a small signpost that says Tizit Beach on the turning into the palm trees that you are looking for.
Following the road through Tizit village to its end will take you to the smaller village of Pu Lon (I think) which is right on the beach and – beware – gets cut-off at the highest tides when the lagoon behind the spit of soft white sand fills with turquoise water.
It’s here that the 50 room, 4 star, $200+ Mandolis resort is / was being built and is / was due to open in October ’16. I’m sure it will be a stunning place to stay. But this beach was a truly stunning place without it and although work has only just begun it has already spoilt to some extent this amazing near wilderness beach. That’s progress. Or is it?
STOP PRESS : Work at Mandolis has stopped. At least for now. Maybe longer.
Taking either of two left turns (one has a 0km marker) in Tizit village gives you access, passing a flash new monastery (aren’t they all?) and over a small bridge to the southern end of the beach. There are a few smaller beaches and a very small village (Weh Taun?) that you can walk to to the south of here.
It’s about 30 minutes back to Launglon.
Beaches Part 3 : Heading further south.
It takes a while longer but can offer perhaps even greater reward. About 50 minutes south of Launglon on the far outskirts of Ya Beh village a well signposted turning on your right leads to Sin Htauk Beach.
The beach is great. Isolated and clean. The water is great too. Perhaps a perfect hideaway for a few days. Unfortunately the road to the beach is dreadful. The first 30 minutes range from OK to pretty bad. The last 15 minutes verge on dangerous. Not for the faint hearted.
Just a few minutes walk from Sin Htauk Beach is Tha Yaun beach, half of undoubtedly the most remarkable of all the beaches on the peninsula. It really is a near wilderness experience being out on the vast sands of low tide. It’s brilliant. Unfortunately it’s only accessible by the same awful road you use to get to Sin Htauk.
Tha Yaun beach is the top half of a pair. The lower half is just as astonishing. And much more accessible. It’s called Po Po Kyauk or Grandfather Beach and it has a lagoon that can be an amazing natural swimming pool. (See note below on accommodation here already and coming soon). It’s stunning.
It is possible to cross the gap from Po Po Kyauk to Tha Yaw. But only by wading and or swimming. Never by bike. It’s obviously best to do it at low tide, possibly a bit risky at other times except for very strong swimmers. There are strong currents. I’ve done it. I won’t be doing it again.
Getting there : In Nyau Pyin (a bigger fishing village) turn right in the village square where a seat surrounds a big tree, ride to the north end of the village and take the track over the hill (you could walk it in 20 minutes or so) to the jaw-droppingly amazing, long, empty, silver sand, turquoise sea, wonderful wilderness beach. It’s the best.
Riding sensibly with a tea stop the unsigned turn-off for Nyau Pyin is two and a half hours from Dawei (one hour and twenty from Launglon, thirty from Ya Beh) in Aut Kyauk Wap. The road to Nyau Pyin is easy going (5 minutes). The minivans running between Dawei and Nyau Pyin cost 2000/3000 kyat and take 2.5/3 hours. The big bus takes 4 or 5 hours.
In Kyauk Wap Pyin, the village before Aut Kyauk Wap there is a great restaurant called Yway; which means Choice. Coming through the village it’s on the right with an obvious blue sign. They sell Myanmar and Thai food. Eat in or take away. And REAL COFFEE. It has been sent down from Yangon especially for you. Ask Yway or her sister Ei Ei Lay for directions or any other advice. The phone number is 09730 54015.
Behind the same village is a Kyai Tee Oh style rock pagoda. It’s a 20 minute steep uphill walk from Yway’s restaurant but well worth it. The view over Tha Yaw / Po Po Kyauk / Grandfather Beach and the lagoon behind must be one of the best in the country (it’s the photo near the top of this post). It’s a great spot to see sunrise. The track up is being improved but still not worth trying to ride all the way up with it as it is now.
San Sa Aw / Paradise Beach. A smaller road in Aut Kyauk Wap takes you up the hill towards Taung Nan fishing village. At the brow of the hill a track takes you down to Paradise / San Sa Aw which is a great beach, a picture postcard tropical paradise beach. There is accommodation here. And a big chunk of this beach was sold this year so we can expect more accommodation options to open here sooner or later.
There are a number of other beaches that you can get to on foot or by boat. One of them Wa Maw, between Nyau Pyin and San Sa Aw / Paradise, has an interesting tiger prawn ‘farm’ on it. It’s walkable (30 mins) from Nyau Pyin.
Walkable in 30 mins from Taung Nan fishing village (above, reader-recommended seafood at Soe’s) which is south of and walkable from Paradise (40 mins) is La Pya Daw (below, recently sold for $500,000 plus). It’s a smashing beach with leafy plantations behind with a lovely view (but no sunset and a bit of a rip at low tide). It’s now owned by a foreigner-backed Yangon-based company called Green Vision who intend to open whatever an a ‘eco-resort’ looks like when it involves cutting a new road through the jungle. Until then it’s worth paying a child 1000 kyat to show you the way from Taung Nan. Once on the right path take the right option at the crest of the hill and the left option down near the beach where there are a couple of huts. Behind the one to your left is a freshwater stream.
Not walkable are Aw Gyi Wa (above, 45 minutes by boat from Nyau Pyin. I love it), Lay Dar Aw (fresh water sometimes here) and Kan Aw (below, an hour by boat) which is my favourite of all the beaches (that is not Po Po Kyauk / Grandfather). There are also a few smaller beaches on this stretch.
Right at the bottom of the peninsula road near Shin Maw Pagoda is Myin Kwa Aw beach where you can see what’s left of a small bungalow resort that opened and closed again (permisions problems I hear) last year and again this year (same problem). It’s not a great beach compared with the others nearby but it’s better than any of the beaches in Nottingham and worth a look if you are going to the pagoda. At its western end there is a fun dragon pagoda that is worth the walk. Myin Kwa Aw also often has really great phosphorescent plankton at night.
I would definitely go once to the highly popular with local pilgrims Shin Maw Pagoda. Not so much for the pagoda itself (though you can sleep there) but because there is a good restaurant and for the rocky setting and the view. The shimmering Andaman Sea stretches as far as the eye can see. The monks throw their rubbish into it.
Someone made a bit of a map. It doesn’t look much but it’s pretty accurate.
NOTES and ACCOMMODATION DETAILS
In 2014 it was three and a half or four hours from Dawei by motorcycle to the very tip of the peninsula. in 2016 it’s two and a half non-stop. But it’s better to stop along the way. There is plenty worth stopping for including a few good viewpoints, wacky pagodas and at wetter times of the year a waterfall.
You need to be pretty competent in handling a motorcycle on rough rocky tracks, on steep slopes, in dust and sometimes sand to ride these roads yourself. Wear a helmet and shoes and bear in mind that it is possible that you are not accident-insured. Many policies exclude motorcycle driving (or back-seat riding) unless you are licensed to ride the same bike in your own country. Helmets available here are rubbish; I bring my own. Evacuation to a decent hospital in Thailand will be expensive.
Some of the fishing villages are a bit dirty but there was no rubbish at all (except what floats in with the tide) on the less or completely uninhabited beaches, no-one seeking to sell anything, mostly nowhere to buy anything (late this season a cold drink stall sprang up at the entrance to Grandfather beach; a sign of things to come). You need to take food and water and be sure to have enough petrol.
If you’re heading back to Dawei I think it’s sensible to leave the beach at least 30 minutes before sunset to be sure of being off the tracks and back on the main road before dark. Take great care on that road heading back in the dark. its a good idea to get a pair of ‘clear sunglasses’ to wear on the ride back; there can be a lot of insects in the air
The reaction or welcome you receive varies quite a lot from village to village. I think we are already beyond the initial curiosity stage. Some people have reported sensing a frostiness in San Hlan for example. How tourists behave may well determine how things go from here. My tips : Take your sunglasses off. Drive slowly. Stop. Say hello. Spend some money. And be discrete.
It’s best for women not to be on the beach in a bikini right in front of the village or amongst the fishing boats. Walk a way down the beach before you strip off. Guys should not be riding or walking shirtless in any of the villages. Women not wanting to dismay local women should avoid hot pants and cut-off shorts and wear t-shirts not bra-revealing vests. It’s unlikely anyone will say anything to anyone showing more flesh than is thought appropriate (they are too polite) but they are talking about it amongst themselves. Most Myanmar people swim in the sea fully dressed.
Motorcycle rental : New this year and cheaper than the competition is Mr Zaw Zaw Myo (great guy) at Focus at 688 Pakoku Kyaung Road (09422 190130 / 09263 030844) close to Shwe Moung Than Hotel. Mr Zaw’s bikes are 6000 kyat for a manual and 8,000 for an automatic. Please don’t haggle.
Other forms of transport. As the roads improve there are more transport options; bus, minivan, pick-up, taxi and motorcycle taxi. Buses (2500 kyat) run all the way from Dawei to Aut Kyauk Wap, Nyau Pyin and Shin Maw Pagoda. Example motorcycle taxi fares : Aut Kyauk Wap to Paradise = 3000 kyat : Paradise to Grandfather = 5000 : Kyauk Wap Pyin to Aut Kyauk Wap = 2000.
Boatmen may or may not take you between beaches for a pretty fair price, especially if they are already going that way. I have paid 15,000 kyat for an on the spot two and a half hour boat hire in Nyau Pyin, 5000 kyat to go from Tizit to San Hlan, 50,000 kyat plus for day trips. Some Paradise Bungalows guests have paid 25/30,000 kyat to go from Nyau Pyin to Paradise avoiding the need to take a motorcycle on on the dodgy track through the trees. But it seems that by late 2016 this was becoming harder to arrange.
Occasional beach hopping boat trips happened in early 2016. If you can find someone prepared to take you expect to pay 50,000 kyat for a 10am to 4/5pm trip on a boat that will carry up to to ten people going as far south as Aw Gyi Wa (more beyond that) or as far north as Sin Htauk. Bring your own lifejacket if you want one. And your lunch.
Thinking of camping? It’s a little understood concept in Myanmar. And its legal status is uncertain. The law says foreigners must sleep in licensed accommodation / foreigners must not sleep in unlicensed accommodation (except monasteries, pagodas, boats, buses, trains etc). So sleeping in a tent is probably illegal. But then, by the same measure, so is staying awake all night sitting on a park bench.
On the morning of 14.2.16 men saying they were Police and Immigration were on Po Po Kyauk beach telling campers that they could not continue to sleep there, that they should only be sleeping in the bungalows at San Sa Aw (Paradise Beach). Later they were hanging out at Moe The Zin Restaurant in Nyau Pyin. The following evening they returned to Po Po Kyauk to warn off newly arrived beach campers. Paradise Bungalows at San Sa Aw began reporting campers (or at least threatening to report them) to Immigration / the police. In May 2016 I had a chat with a local police officer who wanted to emphasise the apparent dangers of camping (and of going out on fishing boats). He was very nice about it. I think he was ticking a box.
If you’re still thinking of camping there is more reason than ever to be discrete about it. Don’t go showing your tent to a guesthouse owner in Dawei. Don’t be lighting fires for the sake of it. Choose sensibly where you camp and when to set up camp. Maybe don’t stay too long in the same place. Stay away from ‘downtown’ Nyau Pyin.
It shouldn’t need saying but apparently it does .. Wherever you’re camping please try to leave no trace of having been there. Remove all your rubbish. Beer cans do not burn. Light small fires only and always do it on the sand not in the trees. Don’t burn bamboo – it can be poisonous. Make art with it instead. Pee in sea or on the wet sand not at the back of the beach. Except in an ’emergency’ try to avoid any other toilet action at the beach. If you must poo, dig a hole and bury it (ideally in soil at least 75m back from the beach and away from any water supply or at low tide in the sand at the sea’s edge).
Alcohol sale on the peninsular is strictly controlled and there are few places licensed to sell it which means it’s hard to find. Whisky is easier to find than beer. Fines and other penalties for illegal sale are high. If you do manage to find alcohol to buy be very discrete about how you carry it and where you drink it. There is a legitimate alcohol seller in Yaun Nee Maw the village to the north of Kyauk Wap Pyin. Turn right onto the road that runs along the water. The place you are looking for is quite a way along on the right with snooker tables at the back.
Islands : A welcome change is sensibly priced access to the islands off the coast. One company now offers fully inclusive day trips to Longlon Boc island for $60 via San Hlan. There is some good snorkelling on the east side of the island at low tide. If you’re interested email email@example.com.
The road along the peninsula is still being improved; so journey times will continue to reduce. But why hurry, all of the 35+ villages are worth a stop.
Things change; if any of this information has become out of date, do please let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org
CURRENT ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS.
At Sin Htauk Beach. A few bungalows and not a lot more at the southern end of Sin Htauk Beach may – authorities permitting, perhaps anyway – offer a place to stay on the peninsular. Apart from the inconspicuous bungalows in the shade of trees the white sand beach is virgin-pure.
If you want just the basics and true (almost) isolation it could be just what you’re looking for. But facilities are limited. There is no food other than what you or your host can catch, fetch from a village teashop 15 tricky minutes motorcycle ride away or get from the fishermen living nearby. That seems to be working well enough. They have a couple of stand up paddle boards. No jet ski as yet.
The turn off from the main road to Sin Htauk Beach is well-signposted at the southern edge of Ya Beh an hour south of Launglon. It says it’s 10km to the beach. That’s true but don’t believe anyone who tells you it’s a 20 minute ride. It’s at least 45 minutes, unless you’re a lunatic, and some of it – despite recent improvements – is very tricky riding that requires experience, confidence and a willingness to take the odd risk. Don’t try it in the dark.
Sin Htauk Beach could be a memorable place to spend a few days but it’s not going to work well as a base from which to see other beaches except one only five minutes walk south. But maybe that’s enough because that beach is Tha Yaun, the top half of an amazing stretch of tree-lined, wilderness-white sand bordering a lagoon. The bottom half is Po Po Kyauk. There was lots of birdlife when I was there.
To find out if Sin Htauk is open and if bungalows are available email email@example.com
At San Sa Aw / Myanmar Paradise Beach. Legitimately open about 40 minutes further south at San Sa Aw beach, and about a 15 minute ride from Aut Kyauk Wap village (some of it tricky but you could easily park up and walk in). It’s a beautiful beach of your dreams in a beautiful part of the world. Ten bungalows – with beds and proper mattresses and a bathroom and toilet – are ready if not quite finished – plus a small, perhaps slightly over-priced, restaurant. It’s pretty amazing, especially at first light and at sunset.
It’s signposted ‘Paradise’ from Aut Kyauk Wap which can be reached by bus from Dawei. At 35,000 kyat for two people these bungalows are good enough value. Less so solo even reduced to 30,000.
To find out if bungalows are available at San Sa Aw email firstname.lastname@example.org
Note on Myin Kwa Aw Eco Resort. It’s shut. And looks unlikely to open anytime soon. Please stop asking.
Note on Po Po Kyauk / Grandfather Beach. Work started in 2016 on bungalows in the trees at the very southern end of the stunning huge white sand beach near to Nyau Pyin called Po Po Kyauk or Grandfather Beach. That would be great because the beach is accessible in 2.5 hours by minivan (2500 kyats) directly from Dawei with a pretty 20 minute pretty walk at the end. No motorcycle needed.
Unfortunately right now this place is still clearly some way from being open and is looking a bit sorry for itself post rainy season. Getting a licence may be proving a problem.
To find out if there has been any change email email@example.com
It’s not exactly ‘legal’ for foreigners to sleep in unlicensed places but there are solid reports of people free camping on this beach. See camping info above.
Note on Maungmakan : Maungmakan village has its charms but Maungmakan Beach was even more down at heel in 2016 than it seemed to be in 2014. It really was dirty. It’s a bit better now but it’s no tropical paradise. It’s a popular destination for local day-trippers. The water is not so clear as elsewhere. There is a long strip of seafood restaurants (some pretty good) which explains the litter. There are souvenir shops. There are a couple of places where foreigners are able to stay but I see little point in going to Maungmakan except en route to Nabule (horrible road) or San Maria beaches or to the proposed Dawei Seaport. Or to have fun with the locals at the weekend and perhaps especially at Thingyan in April.
There are a few places to stay. But why when you could be having fun in Dawei?
For a number of small reasons that added up I didn’t enjoy staying at Coconut Guesthouse enough to recommend it (TripAdvisor seems to agree). But it might be just what you are looking for. It has good bungalows (Doubles and twins $20 for 1pp / $25 for 2pp. Wooden bungalows $35/$45. Not including breakfast.) in a pleasant and peaceful garden setting and it’s about 500m from the beach. In Maungmakan it’s a big plus point that it’s not at the beach.
Otherwise it’s the Tanintharyi Hotel or DDPC. That’s all. For the latest info email firstname.lastname@example.org
More on Myeik : Myeik town offers the beach hunter no reward. It’s worth seeing for itself, there are interesting things to do (and good things to eat) but it’s a working fishing port with a plastic strewn waterfront at low tide. Hopping across to the small working island opposite (300 kyat on a small boat or free on the big factory ferry), taking the speedboat to Kyon Su (8am, return at 3.30pm, 1000 kyat, 1 hour) or renting a boat for a few hours (30 to 70,000 kyat) are all worth doing but they are not beach trips. [See yet to be published Myeik post for more].
I did manage an overnight (tents on the beach) trip to the Marcus Islands, four small offshore islands for a not unreasonable $80 but it seems this trip may have been ‘illegal’ – maybe for me but much more so for the guides who took us. Most day trips on offer cost $120 and sometimes mean spending as much of the day in a speedboat than on the beach. If you’re interested in visiting some of the islands email me .. email@example.com
Note on other beaches in Myanmar. Myanmar’s choice of beaches remains limited. Ngapali Beach is a pretty beach and can be a lovely place to spend some time. There are some nice resorts and some great food to be had but it’s already over-developed (the resorts are hardly spread out) and developing further fast. It’s not easily accessed except by plane which is how the many your groups get there. Top Tip is Laguna Lodge. There is limited cheap accommodation. Try SMS Guesthouse.
Easier to get to is Chaung Tha but it is Yangon at the seaside. Why go there when it takes exactly as little effort to get to Ngwe Saung your best bet by far if you only have a limited time and just want to grab a couple of days sun and sand? That’s what I would do. If I couldn’t get to Dawei.
For more on Ngwe Saung and Chaung Tha see ‘Back to the Bay of Bengal‘.
The photos below are from 2014.