Myeik Islands of Myanmar – A Whole New World
The Tanintharyi region in southern Myanmar opened up to tourism recently after decades of being off limits. Before 2014 it was nearly impossible to travel to coastal places such as Dawei and Myeik (Mergui) without official permission. In the 1970s and ‘80s, even Myanmar citizens needed government permits to travel to these areas.
From Yangon to Kawthaung, the southernmost point of Myanmar, there are hundreds of kilometers of the Andaman Sea with over 800 remote islands scattered along the seacoast ready for travelers willing to explore this undiscovered territory. Myeik, one of the largest towns in southern Myanmar, has historically been a trading hub for the seagoing commerce between India and China. The sea route to Myeik leads through a collection of coastal islands called the Myeik Archipelago, the newest tourism trend for travelers looking for deserted islands with beautiful, untouched beaches. The mythical place in Thailand made famous in the movie “The Beach” can be disparaged in favor of dozens of loftier beach havens in Myanmar’s Myeik Archipelago.
Tours to cruise the Myeik Archipelago need to be pre-arranged and start and end in Kawthaung only a short boat ride across the international border from Ranong in Thailand. Typical liveaboard cruises take several days during which there is snorkeling, scuba diving and visits to white sand beaches and Moken villages. Moken people are sea nomads who traditionally have lived a nomadic existence on their fishing boats in the Andaman Sea bordering Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia.
Our colleague Zaw Min Oo (Jack for friends) lived on the islands for two years and knows it by heart. For more information about cruising the islands of the Myeik Archipelago and beaches in southern Myanmar, you can reach him by leaving your contact information in the form at the bottom of the page.
Photos by JP Klovstad