Due to the country’s recent history of estrangement from the Western world, relatively very little development has occurred on this beautiful stretch of beach front real estate.
However, many changes are taking place and this will probably not be the case much longer. In the meantime visitors have a few lovely choices where amenities are adequate if not yet on a par with the better known and densely packed seaside resorts in neighboring countries like Thailand.
Take Ngapali for instance: 3km of palm-fringed sugar-white sand facing west on the Bay of Bengal. The story goes that its name originated with a homesick Italian who likened the area to Naples; there is no translation in the Myanmar language. Ngapali is a 45 minute flight or about a 14-hour drive from Yangon.
Here the activities include major lolling, swimming and snorkeling in the clear turquoise waters, side jaunts to small fishing villages and nearby islands, and dining on the best seafood in the country, which is saying quite a lot. Of all the beach areas in Myanmar, Ngapali is probably the most developed, with a fair amount of mid-range and a handful of luxury-type accommodations.
About 65 miles – four hours by jeep – south of Ngapali you’ll come to Kanthaya; the name loosely translates as ‘pleasant beach’, which is an understatement. At last report there was one hotel, a great many birds including flocks of wild parrots, and a truly pristine expanse of beach where you can walk for miles, through tiny villages and unspoiled natural beauty.
With so much potential for the tourist industry, Myanmar/Burma beaches are unlikely to remain in their splendid solitude, but for now they are in a way the ‘Bali Hai’ of southeast Asia.