Anyone who has plans to visit Myanmar/Burma is probably aware of the changes taking place in that mysterious and isolated country. Doors are opening and travel agents everywhere are jockeying to get in on the expected surge of tourism. Though you’ve certainly heard of Ngpali, already something of a major tourist resort, so far there’s been little mention of Chaungtha Beach.
One reason for its exclusion from standard travel itineraries is the relative difficulty in getting there. The nearest ‘travel hub’ is Pathein, about 36km and three hot and bumpy hours away by bus. The alternative is an air-conditioned bus from Yangon, a longer but more comfortable trip. Either way it’s worth the effort; the modern world hasn’t encroached much on Chaungtha.
This is where you want to go if you really don’t want a Big Mac or an all-night party. Chaungtha is for relaxing on the beach, snorkeling when the seas are calm, and eating some of the most scrumptious seafood in the country – and that’s saying something. Plus the prices haven’t escalated yet, either, so not only can you gorge on the good stuff, you won’t break the bank.
A delightful interlude would be taking a picnic lunch and your snorkeling gear out to the tiny and almost uninhabited Whitesand Island. At last report one Buddhist monk and a few apprentices were rebuilding a temple that was destroyed by a typhoon, but other than that the island is about as private as it gets. Doubtless, this too will change in the foreseeable future; for now it’s still way off the beaten track.