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In Danny Boyle’s film The Beach, Leonardo di Caprio’s character Richard swims across 2 kilometres of water to reach a secret and secluded oriental Arcadia. Set in Thailand and filmed near Koh Phi Phi, those islands that were once so idyllic are now overrun with all that Richard was attempting to escape: tour boats, restaurants serving Western cuisine, and shirtless backpackers playing Aussie Rules. In Myanmar, paradisiacal islands still exist, only a few hours’ boat journey from the town of Kawthaung. On the majority of these beaches you will find no tourists, only monkeys, and no hostels, only the huts of fishermen. The sand is a dazzling white and the water as clear as listerine. In short, these islands rival Bagan at sunset and Shwedagon in the midst of the full moon as the most spectacularly beautiful location in Myanmar.

Around the islands of Mergui one can go scuba diving, snorkeling and have lunch and relax on the island beaches.

One can fly to Kawthaung from Yangon, Dawei or Myeik.


The Town of Kawthaung


Kawthaung, Myanmar’s southernmost town, is not quite as sublime as the islands of Mergui. Those who insist that Myanmar will never become a latter-day Thailand best take a visit to this border town. The default currency is the Thai Baht, Singha and Chang is almost as readily drunk as Myanmar and Mandalay Beer, and the trishaw drivers are that little bit more rabid with their cries of, ‘Hallo! Where you go?’ Indeed, even its name is a bastardisation of the Thai name for the town, Koh Song, ‘Second Island.’

Kawthaung does have a selection of saving graces. From the top of Nga Thong Ko (‘Triple Five Mountain’) there are sprawling views over the town to Treasure Island and Mwe Kyaw Island; three miles out of the town is the Palone Done Bridge, second only to U Bein as the largest wooden bridge in the country; and Andaman Island is a 30 minute / 100 Baht ferry ride away. Fit with slot machines and crooning men serenading in the lobby, this is where rich Thai come to play. The pool is glorious, the cocktails sweet, and there is (naturally) a selection of karaoke booths where one can sing the night away.

Unsatisfied with their usual bent of simply mishearing the names of Burmese towns, the British went all out in Kawthaung and rechristened it ‘Victoria Point’. This title is now consigned to a jutting terrace over the water. Here at Victoria Point is Myanmar’s southernmost piece of mainland. One can take a selfie here and appear as if they are at the bow of a ship, sailing into the Andaman Sea, leaving the Golden Land behind for new pleasures; down the Thai coast perhaps, past the Islands of Nicobar until finally, if sailing due south, reaching Banda Acèh at the tip of Indonesia.

Interested in visiting Kawthaung? Contact one of our travel consultants to find out how to reach Kawthaung or alternatively begin building your own journey here.