Apr 25, 2016

Best Beach in Asia - Ngapali

 When I see the many articles listing the “Top Ten Beaches” it
seemed to me that sooner later every great beach would make the list so I knew Ngapali Beach in Myanmar would be discovered; it finally made CNN’s list of “Best Beaches” in February 2016. John and I have been to Ngapali Beach nine times, staying each year at Amazing Resort. Ngapali Beach is truly a wonderful beach on the Bay of Bengal. For us it is

perfect: soft sand, warm water, no annoying vendors, and virtually devoid of tourists. We could leave our things on our beach lounge and knew it would still be there when we returned.  There are no jet skis, recreational boats, standup paddle boarding, and other beach activities found at more “popular” beaches. We especially loved Amazing Resort because it reflected Myanmar culture, all rooms have a view of the Bay of Bengal, the staff is “amazing,” and it was the only hotel on “our”
section of the two-mile beach even though are were hotels on other sections of the beach. But, things are changing.  There are now a couple hotels on “our” section of the beach including a slick Hilton which could be anywhere in the world as there is little to make guests feel that they are in Myanmar; and, they are located at the far end of the beach where there are many rocks so they don’t have a beach.  Even though there are now a couple other hotels on “our” section of the beach and more being built they have not had any impact on Amazing Ngapali – yet. 

All of Myanmar has seen a dramatic increase in tourism, especially from the United States and Europe, has had its impact on all of Myanmar.  I was surprised to learn there is now a water sports center offering scuba diving and other tours in Ngapali. We booked Ngapali’s Water and Sport Center’s “Land and Sea” tour. It was very professional and well organized. An air-conditioned van with a driver and a guide, Mr. Ko Ko, picked us up at the hotel and off we went.  One thing I notice is that the roads have been improved; and, now Ngapali has a stop light.

Our first stop was the market in the nearby city of Thandwe.
Markets in Asia are not what most Western people think of. There are many outdoor stalls that sell everything from clothing to fish to spices and more. In Myanmar things are still done the old fashioned way – that will change soon.  We stopped at a weaving factory where the young ladies were making bamboo placemats and longyis, the wrap-around cloth that serves as clothing for men and women. The looms are hand and foot operated. A weaver can make one ten-yard longyi each day. 

We also stopped at a monastery where two venerable, mummified monks are on display. The story is they said they were “going to sleep” and they still are I guess. They say their hair and nails still grown. My favorite part of the tours was the hour-ride on the serene Thann Ba Yar River to the Bay of Bengal where we boarded the dive boat and joined two divers. They said the diving was great. The water is protected by the navy. After lunch we boated to Lone Thar fishing village and then back to the hotel. It was a great day.