If you are looking for some beach time in Myanmar then look no further than Ngapali Beach. This is one of the few beach destinations open to foreigners in Myanmar, and as such is the best place to come to take in the azure seas which look out to the Bay of Bengal.
You can of course spend time here relaxing on the sand and topping up your tan, but if you prefer you will also find a huge range of other things to do in Ngapali Beach including trekking and sightseeing.
If you want to explore the culture in this part of Myanmar then you also won’t be disappointed as you take in colorful temples, throbbing markets and dainty monasteries scattered all over the surrounding countryside.
Here are the best things to do in Ngapali Beach:
1. Go bird watching
Bird watchers well catered for in Ngapali Beach as this is an excellent spot in Myanmar if you want to check out a range of local birds as well as other avians that migrate to the area.
The best place to see the birds is at the Hget Pyaw Chaung Lake and here you can expect to find as many as 30 different species.
The best time to come to the lake is in the morning of evening as this is when most of the species come to the water to drink and bathe.
2. Take a boat trip along the Thandwe River
The main waterway through Ngapali Beach is the serene Thandwe River and there is no better way to check it out than by taking a scenic boat trip upriver.
There are a number of operators who will take you for a ride and you can check out the lush vegetation growing along the banks as well as watch the locals as they go about their daily lives in this part of Ngapali Beach.
If you are feeling active then there is also the chance to hire a kayak and go kayaking along the idyllic river.
3. Visit Zalun Monastery
One of the best known attractions in Ngapali Beach is the Zalun Monastery which is famous as it still contains the mummified body of a Buddhist monk.
The monk died in 1984 after a prolonged period of meditation and his body has been housed in the monastery ever since.
The remains of the monk are located in a glass case and you can visit the monk as well as tour the rest of the monastery and admire the traditional Burmese architecture on show.
Just getting to the monastery is also an experience as you get to travel past gorgeous jade paddy fields as well as take in quaint Rakhine villages.
4. Kinmaw Village Clay Pottery
The delightful Kinmaw Village is located on the outskirts of Ngapali Beach and this is the ideal place to come if you want to find out all about traditional arts and crafts in Myanmar.
The village has made a name for itself thanks to its clay pottery, particularly its pots, bowls and drinking vessels.
When you visit the village you can watch the artisans here at work and also buy some of the pieces which make perfect gifts or souvenirs.
The funds from any pieces that you buy are also put back into the local community to help support further local projects.
5. Shop at Thandwe Market
When you visit Ngapali Beach, you may want to get out of the center of town and head to Thandwe which is four miles outside of Ngapali Beach proper.
This is one of the prettiest towns in the area and if you come here in the morning then you can check out the local market when it is in full swing.
Some of the highlights of the market include locals selling fruits and vegetables as well as mounds of dried snacks and textiles.
This is also a good spot to pick up some local street food snacks and you will find a number of stalls selling delicious simple breakfast dishes such as bowls of bubbling noodles.
Also of note in the village is a longyi-weaving factory which is the place to learn how traditional Burmese sarongs are made.
6. Explore Nandaw and Sandaw Pagodas
The charmingly named Nandaw and Sandaw pagodas are located on hills on the outskirts of Thandwe village and actually consist of three pretty golden pagodas.
The pagodas are known as an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhist worshippers in the region and are scattered across several hills around Thandwe.
The tallest pagoda is called Nandaw Paya and this is also the most famous as it is said to be the home of a section of one of the ribs of the Buddha.
7. Climb Amata Mountain
One of the most important Buddhist sites in Ngapali Beach is Amata Mountain which is located on the outskirts of Jade Taw Fishing Village.
The mountain is known in the area for its large and dominating state of a Standing Buddha and you can also take in scenic views here over the rest of Rakhine State.
The best time to come to the mountain is around sunset as this is when the Buddha and the vistas across the countryside are at their prettiest and the sun sets directly over the limpid ocean.
Also of note at Amata Mountain is the meditation center that you can visit if you want to drink in the serene atmosphere a little more and learn about the Buddhist faith in Myanmar.
8. Take a hot air balloon ride
If you want to take in Ngapali Beach from the vantage point of the air then you need to head for a hot air balloon ride.
This is a fairly new addition to the sightseeing scene in the area, but companies such as Oriental Ballooning offer you the chance to hop in a basket and then soar into the sky and check out the sun, sea and sand for which Ngapali Beach is so famous.
Definitely if you have a head for heights, then this is not to be missed when you are in town.
9. Walk around Jade Taw Fishing Village
Just outside of Ngapali Beach is Jade Taw fishing Village which is a beautiful example of a traditional Rakhine village.
People come here to see the local fishermen at work who supply Ngapali Beach with fresh fish and seafood.
If you want to see them when they are unloading the catch of the day, then you will need to get here as early as possible in the morning.
On a visit here also make sure to walk through the village where you will see small fish which are spread out on straw mats and left to dry in the fierce sun before being made into local snacks.
10. Take a boat tour
Ngapali Beach is located on the coast and looks out over the Bay of Bengal.
Just offshore, you will find a huge number of idyllic tropical islands and one of the best ways to see these is to take a boat tour and spend the day island hopping around.
Many of the boat trips here also offer you the chance to do some fishing at the same time and local guides will even arrange for your catch to be cooked at a restaurant or cafe back in Ngapali Beach for dinner.
11. Go snorkeling
Ngapali Beach is still not a well known tourist area in Myanmar, or in Southeast Asia.
With that in mind, the seas here are clear and unpolluted so this is the perfect place to get under the water and check out the tropical marine life.
The best way to do this is to arrange a snorkeling trip and the waters around Pearl Island are widely said to be some of the prettiest in the area.
You can take a boat out to the island and anchor a little way off shore and then spend the rest of the day snorkeling or scuba diving which will let you take in a plethora of colorful species of fish and even the odd turtle.
12. Play a round of golf
You may not expect to find a golfing green in Ngapali Beach but there is actually a nine-hole course here if you fancy squeezing in a game.
One of the best things about the green is that it is located next to the ocean and this means that you can enjoy the beautiful vistas over the water as you play.
If possible try to come in the morning when the course looks at its best and the temperatures are cooler.
The course is conveniently located between the main airport in Ngapali Beach and the central beach which means that it is easy to fit in a game almost as soon as you arrive in town.
13. Rent a bicycle
Almost all the main hotels and guesthouses in Ngapali Beach have bicycles for rent, so with that in mind you will never be too far away from a set of wheels.
This is one of the best places in the country to go for a ride, as much of the terrain here is flat and you can take the road which wraps around the coastline and lets you enjoy beachfront vistas at the same time.
This is also one of the best and cheapest ways to get out and explore the villages that surround Ngapali Beach.
If possible however try to set out as early as you can in the morning as the temperatures in the afternoon can get seriously hot.
14. Enjoy the seafood
Ngapali Beach, as the name suggests, is located next to the sea, so it stands to reason that most restaurant menus features seafood.
This part of Myanmar is known for its delicious fish but the delicacies don’t stop there.
Also on the menu you will find delights such as crab, squid and even lobster, and many eateries in Ngapali Beach offer you the chance to indulge in a seafood buffet at night.
Most of the food is simply grilled and served with rice and a number of side dishes.
15. Sleep on the beach
Many visitors to Ngapali Beach may not know that there are a number of beachfront villas here.
These are located right on the sand and open directly onto the beach.
This means that you can plan your stay so that you wake up to stunning vistas over the ocean and you can dine in front of your villa with your feet in the sand for a truly magical and memorable experience.
Some villas are even located in their own private coves which you will need to take a boat to but which are perfect for anyone looking for a secluded and romantic beach holiday.