Mesmerizing turquoise waters bordered with silken white sand and coconut trees is not an image normally associated with Myanmar, but this is exactly what visitors are greeted with at Ngapali Beach. This beautiful beach paradise is located in Rakhine State on the western coast of Myanmar and is nothing but stunning. Only 45 minutes by plane or over 16 hours on a rough, tough and bouncy road from Yangon, Ngapali Beach is the place for wealthy tourists and locals to relax and enjoy beach life. Rakhine State is a unique and diverse part of Myanmar that borders with neighboring Bangladesh. It is also a very interesting region due to the increasing attention it is receiving thanks to natural resource booms in Myanmar.
Reported to be the most beautiful beach in all of Myanmar, visitors are met by wonderful views across the Indian Ocean in the Bay of Bengal; turquoise water lapping at the soft white sand, thatched huts dotting the beach, fisherman hauling in the catch of the day, an ox-cart may pass by on its way to somewhere else or the rich orange sunset over the ocean. It is romantic, enticing, isolated and relaxing. Snorkeling, cycling, kayaking and golf are popular activities amongst those who have been able to pull themselves away from the beach and visitors may also enjoy a boat trip out to some of the local islands. The dining options in Ngapali Beach offer some unbeaten seafood options, western food and of course delicious local fare. However, the accommodation options in Ngapali beach are limited to primarily high-end resorts and hotels owned by Burmese cronies, with very few options for the budget traveler. 10km north of Ngapali Beach is Thandwe which has little to offer tourists other than some markets, a few hillside pagodas and of course the airport. It is quite a nice half day trip to look at the real-deal Rakhine State locals but there are limited places to eat and no licensed hotels or guesthouses.
Onward travel connections from Ngapali Beach or Thandwe to other major destinations in Rakhine State to Sittwe and Mrauk-U are limited. Flights between Ngapali Beach and Sittwe are the only option at this time and Sittwe is the access point to the ancient capital Mrauk-U. Both are interesting destinations in their own right, with Sittwe offering gorgeous views up the Bay of Bengal, Kaladan River and some very interesting Buddhist sites. Mrauk-U on the other hand is one of the most important archaeological sights in Myanmar. This area is the site of the ancient Arakanese Kingdom between 1433-1784. Accessible from Sittwe via a boat trip up the Kaladan River or by flight, it is a unique complex of over 700 temples, many of which have not been excavated yet.