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  • Writer's pictureGunnar Garfors

Magic Myanmar Made My Day

It has long been a vastly underestimated destination, and it still is. More and more tourists are coming, but the numbers are still on the low side. To make the step from well-established and super safe Thailand seems a step too big for most. Luckily. That preserves the gem that this country is, for a little longer.

Quite a few tourists still visit Yangon, Mandalay and Bangon, and for good reasons. But why not dare go elsewhere to discover world-class beaches, hospitality virtually unheard of and mouth-watering seafood? Just asking.

A stop for a couple of days in Yangon to see the world’s highest gold-plated pagoda, soak in the hustle and bustle of the country’s biggest city and sample its interesting and sometimes excellent restaurants, comes recommended.

But head south by plane (1hr) or bus (12hrs) to the true beach bonanza nearby Dawei. If the dozen of virtually unused beaches doesn’t make you relax, nothing short of heavy medication will. Maungmakan is the busiest of them, with excellent beach restaurants and small shops lined up in the shadow of the palm trees. The place to go when loneliness sets in from too much spent on more remote Grandfather Beach (Po Po Kyauk), Shan Maw, San Sa Aw Paradise Beach or San Maria.

More on the beaches around Dawei on MyohMyanmar, a blog.

The best way to independently travel between the beaches is by scooter. You will easily fit two on it. They can be rented cheaply from around Dawei, helmets are mandatory. And you won’t need to go to petrol stations to fill them up. Glass bottles of petrol are sold from almost every little shop alongside the road. Just don’t drink the stuff, it can easily pass ass rum or whiskey in those fancy bottles.

Myeik is further south, and the gateway to the incredible Mergui Archipelago which was off-limits to foreigners until fairly recently. And don’t get me wrong, the beaches here certainly compete with those around Dawei, but they are far less accessible as you need a boat to access most of them. A group visit with 20 others will set you back 100USD for a full day, including food and soft-drinks, water and beer. To get there on your own is much more expensive, unless your haggling is world-class, or you have are in the posession of a yatch.

I don’t, so I had to turn to a travel and tour company. A rarity for me, but I can fully recommend Blissful Myanmar whose Director Dr. That Zin Linn did everything in his powers (which was a lot) to ensure a most pleasant and very hassle free tour of the archipelago (as well as help rebook tickets to the Myeik-Yangon flight which was rescheduled without notice)..

Two Sand Line Island is definitely absolutely totally must-visit. It will cost you three hours worth of magnificent sights on a speed boat to get there, a small sacrifice to visit an island with a beach on each side of it. That does perhaps not sound very unique. Except that the island is bow tie shaped, which means that the two beaches are a 30 second walk from each other. With no people, and no buildings except for a small wooden shack. And let me not forget the excellent snorkelling. Just visit.

You can thank me later.

The magic of Myanmar might be best experienced away from the most touristy towns, but the hospitality is the same around the contry. You will never regret going here. But chances are you will regret not giving the country a chance. For so many reasons, all of which made me smile. A lot. Let me just mention the food, the people, the hospitality, the sights, the beaches.

It has everything. Even bubbles.

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