Most people know Myanmar as a paradise of lush green tropical forests, blue skies and glimmering golden pagodas. But what they do not know is that Myanmar has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Myanmar has a long coastline that stretches for 1,385 miles from the Naaf River on the Bangladesh border. Along this 1400-mile long coastline bordered by emerald coconut palms, miles of white sandy beaches stretch along shimmering seas making Myanmar’s beaches a world away from other beaches.
One of the recently developed beaches is the Chaungtha Beach on the west of Myanmar only 34 miles away from Pathein (Bassein).
Local people have lived in Chaungtha town for many years and Pathein residents have gone there to have picnics and bathe in the sea for decades. But it was only in 1991 that the road from Yangon to Pathein, and Pathein to Chaungtha had been constructed, with many rivers of the Ayeyawaddy Delta region bridged for the first time.
This has made it easy for urbanites and foreign tourists from Yangon to go to Pathein in about five hours and to reach Chaungtha in about seven hours.
Once you arrive in Chaungtha there is peace and quiet with miles of silvery beaches fringed by coconut trees and other tropical vegetation. Like most beaches in Myanmar it faces west and so gives lovely picturesque scenes at sunset.
The most important thing to remember about Myanmar beaches is that they close down during the monsoon season, from May to October. Chaungtha is the only beach that does not close. Although it is very windy and very wet going to Chauhgtha during the rains is quite an exhilarating experience.
Chaung Tha has a range of accommodation options, from simple no-frill hotels across the road from the beach to high-end luxurious beach resorts with swimming pool, fancy restaurants and on-site spas.
There is a lot of interaction between guests due to the close proximity of resorts. In the evenings you can join in with the locals for friendly football matches.
You can soak up the sun as much as you want by spending the time on the turquoise water during the day. Apart from relaxing and swimming at Chaungtha you can visit some nearby village and local markets, explore the countryside by bike or enjoy a boat trip to the magnificent offshore island.
Part of the pleasure of traveling through this region is the simple joy of seeing the charming countryside and the smiling faces of the people.
An outstanding feature at Chaungtha is the Kyauk-pahto Pagoda, which has a Buddha image built by devotees on some rocks right on the beach. This is where the local villagers come to worship.
Even the clear waters of the Indian Ocean lapping the pagodas base in silvery waves seem to be paying homage to this sacred shrine.
Locally made wares include mother-of-pearl and lacquer boxes and trays, shell necklaces and big rock cray fish shells beautifully preserved and mounted in cane containers. Local restaurants offer fresh Myanmar fruits and local delicacies.
The seafood is especially fresh, very reasonably priced and delectable. There are several varieties of prawns and big lobsters, crabs, oysters, mussels and other shellfish, and many kinds of tasty marine fish. More exotic seafood like octopus flesh and shark’s fin are also available.
There are many opportunities for visiting some of the nearby outlying islands near Chaungtha.
Hpo Kala Islands is only a seven-minute ride across the sea in a motorboat. It has an area of 2.5 sq miles and about 200 people mainly fishermen live there.
A ten-minute walk across the 550-yard beach is the Aung Mingala Mya Kyunnyo Pagoda, built on a small hill about 80 feet high.
The Pagoda is 25feet high and from the Pagoda hill there are beautiful views of other islands in the vicinity, especially Hnget-taung Kyun (Bird’s Feather Island) and the Phyu Kyun (White sand island) as well as of Chaungtha beach with its picturesque hotel buildings and the Kyauk-pahto Pagoda on the main beach.
This small island is only about 20sq yards in circumference at high tide, and about 30 sq yards at low tide here also there is a small pagoda with three almond trees. The uninhabited island has the most beautiful multicolored seashells for those who collect seashells.
It is also a photographer’s paradise, with magnificent panoramic background scenes of the sea, the sky and the pearly white sands.
There are facilities for wind surfing, and riding surf motorbikes are available. Fiber shell rowing boats, motorboats and speedboats are available on hire.
On the beach Myanmar hle-yin kyawt bullock carts, used for special occasions, are also available for hire. Bicycles can be rented on the beach and to go to nearby town and villages.
There are many new hotels being constructed and Chaungtha is fast becoming a popular seaside resort for not only people from Myanmar but also from abroad.
If you decide to visit, it will be a memorable and exciting holiday that you will never forget.