NGAPALI, Arakan State — Ngapali Beach, a 10-kilometer stretch of stunning white sand on the shores of the Bay of Bengal in southern Arakan State, is without argument Burma’s most well-known premier beachside holiday destination.
During the dry season, Ngapali Beach transforms into a playground of resorts, from modest bungalow accommodation to luxurious health spas, offering everything from sailing, scuba diving, beach volleyball and visits to local attractions such as working elephants.
In the monsoon season, it is a quiet, peaceful place. Few visitors venture here and flights from Rangoon are reduced from several times daily to just twice a week, but this does not mean the area is not still well worth a low-season visit.
No matter the time of year, fresh seafood is a specialty of the numerous restaurants, offering succulent crab, prawn, squid and whole fish such as snapper and barracuda as regular menu items.
Should holiday-goers be looking for a break from the sun and surf, nearby Thandwe, a 20-minute drive inland on a rather heavily potholed road, is a picturesque little township straddling the Thandwe River. Thandwe provides support services to the beachfront resorts of Ngapali and is also a great destination for day trippers from the shore to take in local culture and do a little shopping.
The town is a bustling local commercial center with a modern central market and narrow streets, featuring a pleasant mix of Burmese architecture, numerous Buddhist pagodas and several beautiful mosques as ancient as the town itself.