Explore Mergui Islands Myanmar
When people think about Myanmar tourism, they generally think of ancient temples and pagodas, which are mostly centered in Yangon and northern Burma, such as Bagan and Mandalay, or lovely sites like Inle Lake… Few people are familiar with its extreme south shore and sea. The Mergui Archipelago (Myeik Archipelago), also known as the Virgin Islands, is located in the Andaman Sea and has over 800 big and tiny islands, the most of which are abandoned due to their remoteness from the mainland and terrible living conditions. Only a few Moken people live a nomadic life on the sea, fishing, hunting, and collecting on desert islands. So, how do you go to Mergui Archipelago (Mergui Islands) and what should you do on Mergui Archipelago islands? Check out our Mergui Archipelago Myanmar blog for tips on how to go to Mergui Archipelago (Mergui Archipelago Burma), top things to do, and a suggested two-day, one-night itinerary on Myanmar’s beautiful islands.
Overview of Mergui Archipelago Myanmar and how to get to Mergui Archipelago Myanmar (Mergui Islands Myanmar)?
Because of less tourism growth than in the north, roads and transit in the south are likewise more challenging. To travel to the Mergui Archipelago, you must board a train from one of three main points: Kawthaung, Burma’s furthest region bordering Thailand’s Ranong province. The second is Myiek province, which is roughly 400 kilometers from Kawthaung but has no road and must be reached by rail or plane. Third, Dawei province is around 240 kilometers from Myiek and can be accessed by bus to Mergui Islands.
Nok Air’s Bombadier Dash propeller plane arrived at Ranong Airport after an hour and a half from Bangkok:
Because Horseshoe Island (a Mergui Archipelago Islands island) is closest to Kawthaung, I opted to fly from Bangkok to Ranong and then take a boat across the river to Kawthaung, despite having already purchased a flight ticket to Yangon to visit Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake. Finally, I canceled my flight to Yangon since I happened to see a lovely snapshot of the island online via flycam (seen below) that drew me to this location. It is very lovely and calm!
It looks a bit like Maya Bay in appearance as well as the change in color of the seawater. But if I had a choice, I would choose this place. Simply because it is still untouched, has not been much touristized.
Two days and a night on the island of Horseshoe Island literally feels like getting lost on a paradise island, where there is no phone signal, no internet, no wifi, no noise of vehicles. But there is only a world of its own with very beautiful white sand beach, fresh air and whispering waves. Swaying in a hammock under the green coconut canopy, turning a few pages of the book, with sea breeze makes you fall asleep suddenly. At noon, go snorkeling, morning or afternoon kayaking to a few small islands to watch the sunrise, so romantic sunset. Or you can row out some rocky rapids to fishing, then catch snails and sea urchins and grilled them as food for drinking with friends.
An ideal place to relax and relieve stress, away from the noisy city and chaos of life. That is enough for the so-called happiness. Heaven is here but nowhere far. Let’s someone you love hold hands and go everywhere while you can!
Mergui Archipelago Islands: Before you go
- Buy round-trip air tickets from Saigon (HCMC) to Bangkok, some cheap airlines: AirAsia, Nok Air. I chose night flights with Nok Air for both depart and return flight.
- Buy flight tickets from Bangkok to Ranong of Nok Air with the earliest flight at 6:05AM and the latest flight 4:45PM. I chose the earliest flight.
- Apply Evisa online to enter Myanmar by road (Land Border) with a bit expensive fee of $50 / person, valid for 28-day stay, so you can rest assured to explore. If you traveling by air from Yangon to Kawthaung, you do not have to apply for a visa. It does not accept an arrival visa, but you must apply online through this page: https://evisa.moip.gov.mm/
- You need photo your passport and Evisa confirmation sheet (will be sent via email within 24 hours after paying online VISA fee), 2 copies of each, to provide entry customs of Ranong (Thailand) and entry customs of Kawthaung (Burma).
- Book a 2 days 1 night tour on Horseshoe Island cost 5.900 Bath via this page: http://www.grandetravel.com/tour_detail.php?id=3
- If you take the Horseshoe Island Tour of Grande Travel, you will get a discount on the 5-star Grand Andaman Hotel (Agoda.com or Booking.com) book to $80 / night, located on a beautiful island near Kawthaung with swimming pool, casino and customs do entry procedures right on the spot, no need to go to inland to get a seal to check-in, it is also convenient.
- If you want to explore Kawthaung city, you should book hotels near the island pier. But there is a minus point that the whole city of Kawthaung often is cut off electricity at night, most of them run by generators, so at night, they only turn on the fan, not the air-conditioner.
- Exchange money to Thai Bath, no need to exchange to Myanmar Kyat. It is very surprising that the Kawthaung people use Thai Baht in all transactions much more than the local currency (Kyat), so there is no need to exchange money to Kyat.
The details of the itinerary to Mergui Archipelago Myanmar
Day 1: Fly to Thailand
- 20:45PM flew with Nok Air from Saigon to Bangkok, 10:15PM arrived at Don Mueang airport.
- Overnight at the airport.
Day 2: Crossing the river across two countries, from Ranong to Kawthaung – The farthest land of the country of Burma.
- Took an early flight at 6:05AM to Ranong with Nok Air also, arrived in Ranong at 7:30AM.
- Took the bus that parked at the airport entrance for THB200 / person, told the driver to the pier to Ko Tung (pronounced from Kawthaung).
- Done procedures for exit Thailand right at the pier (not having to paid any cost).
- Took a wooden boat across the river to get to Kawthaung of Myanmar for 100THB / person. Having visited the Thai border station located in the middle of the river to check the passport seal, the boat driver will collect the passports of each person and go up the station to do procedures for you, no need to step out of the boat to do this.
- The boat ran about 30 minutes to reach the mainland of Kawthaung.
- Stepped onto the pier is an immigration customs station. Went inside to do entry procedures to entering Myanmar (also do not pay anything).
- Walking about 400m to check-in the Penguin Hotel.
- Resting until 2PM and walked to the pier to rent a tuk-tuk to visit Kawthaung city, the places to go:
Palautonetone bridge: The 2km long wooden bridge across Palautonetone Island, on the island there is a fishing village and a same name restaurant selling seafood and local dishes and Thai dishes like Tom yum, Somtam are quite delicious. Sipping a few bottles of Burmese beer while watching the golden sandy beach with the sound of the murmuring waves is very interesting.
Listen to the tuk-tuk driver say palau means island, tonetone means to run wild (trotting). He said that in the past, when the bridge was not built, the island was wild, the girls here in the afternoon kept walking naked in front of the beach. Since then, it was named Palautonetone, a long name that is difficult to remember, difficult to write, so I kept remembering it was a “trotting island”.
Bayinnaung Park: This is a large park in Kawthaung, located on a high hill with a respectable monument to King Bayinnaung that all Myanmar people love. From this park, the view of the sea is very beautiful.
Victoria Point: Rounding out below Bayinnaung Park is the southernmost landmark of Burma like Vietnam’s Ca Mau Cape, called Victoria Point to commemorate the colonial war that the British occupied and colonized this land for 124 years from 1824 to 1948. This is also a beautiful place to watch the sunset, watching the sun set falling down into the sea very close.
Pyi Daw Aye Pagoda: This pagoda is also near the Penguin Hotel and can be reach through a slope about 300m. In the evening, the pagoda is very cool and clean, so many families bring their children here to play and worship Buddha. Due to the power is cut in my hotel, I also escaped up here to relax.
There are also many places to go if you have time:
- Maliwan waterfall
- Aung Thapyay Hot Spring
- Mount 555: The highest view point in Kawthaung, where the panoramic view of the city and the sunset is very beautiful.
Tips: You should hire a tuk tuk to go for cheap, tuk-tuk here is different from in Thailand, the trailer is an old wave motorbike that can carry 4-5 people in the back bin. My group of 5 adults and 2 children, but the cute tuk-tuk driver stills accept. He took us to visit places like the above and only got 200 Baht, I felt sorry, so invited him to a restaurant and then gave him a bonus of 100 Baht.
While renting a motorbike is very expensive, asking at the hotel it costs 300 Baht for half a day, a whole day is 500 Baht, the most expensive among places I’ve ever visited. So, taking a tuk-tuk is cheap and fun, the funniest thing is when running over a wooden bridge, when going up the slope, I have to jump down to push to help the driver, especially when we were running to the middle of the bridge to avoid the opposite vehicles, looking scene made me lose heart.
We went to night market in the evening to eat street food, the food here is quite cheap, 100 Baht / person is full. After visiting the night market, we went to the beach to walk then came to the pagoda to feel sea breeze and then went back to the hotel to sleep early to get strength to go to the island tomorrow.
Day 3: Discover Mergui Archipelago Myanmar: Horseshoe Island & Emerald Heart Island
- 8:30AM: We went to the pier to start the tour to explore the Mergui Islands.
- After 1 hour and 45 minutes of riding by speedboat, we arrived at Horseshoe Island. Everyone gasped because of the beauty here. The clear, turquoise seawater clearly saw corals and fish wading below. The white bow-shaped beach, surrounded by mountains and forests behind, with a few small limestone islands in front. If you look at the photos and video clips shot with a drone from above, the island is shaped like a horseshoe. What a beautiful view!
- After bringing the luggage on the island, we went to the beach for swimming and then had lunch. The food is quite a lot and delicious, there was a somtam dish with full ingredients, who want to eat, they can make their own taste.
- 2PM, a canoe took us to diving in an equally beautiful island that is Cock’s Comb Island also known as Emerald Heart because inside the island is a giant heart-shaped lagoon with emerald water. The island is made up of towering limestone cliffs, so there is no beach around. If you want to enter the secret lagoon inside, you have to go through a single ravine about a few hands above sea level, then one by one jump down from the canoe, swing by rope to get inside to explore the heart lagoon. Snorkelling will easily see corals, sea anemones, sea urchin and countless fish, especially watching Nemo fish playing with coral clusters. A vivid picture under the ocean.
- Then continue snorkeling at Coral Jungle, another small island nearby, seeing sea turtles and colorful coral reefs.
- In the afternoon, on Horseshoe Island is a time of freedom, spoiled for relaxation in a beautiful place like a wild, calm paradise. Until now I still wish to return to soak in the clear cool water or to lie in a hammock to reading under the green canopy, listening to the wild birds singing.
- At sunset time, we dragged the kayaks to the sea, paddle to some small islands in the distance, watched the sun slowly down from the top of the mountain until it sank into the sea.
- In the afternoon, the tide receded, revealing corals and too much sea urchin below. We used the paddle to pick each one up to the kayak and bring back for dinner.
- Meanwhile, the tour guides also came back by fishing boat, only keep the fish bigger than two-hand, the small fish are released, and the big squids were used as a seafood BBQ party that night.
- At night, we garthered together, eat and drink, talk to each other, the atmosphere is very cozy. Drinking in the starry sky with Thai friends until the end of the last can of beer of the bar, then go back to the hut to sleep, take a deep sleep.
Day 4: Ta Fook Island
- Got up early in the morning, jogged along the beach and watch the sunrise on the island.
- Having breakfast, drink tea and coffee.
- Then a speedboat took us to visit another beautiful island called Ta Fook Island. The color of the sea is emerald green, the sand is whiter and smoother than on the island of Horseshoe. The island also allows guests stay overnight in cute circular huts.
- The last island we explored before returning to Ko Tung is Rope Island and South Bay. This island has a beautiful beach but does not allow guests to access, but only allows diving to see the surrounding coral because it is a border island with guards on it.
- Before returning to Kawthaung to end the tour, the boat took us to the 5-star Grand Andaman Hotel located on an island near Kawthaung called Thahtay Kyun Island for us to relax in the swimming pool and have an afternoon buffet dinner at the restaurant with a west view, eating while watching the sunset is very romantic.
- 7:00 pm, a large luxurious boat like a yacht, with air-conditioning took us to Kawthaung, ending the tour 2 days 1 night to explore the Mergui archipelago and spend the night on Horseshoe Island.
Day 5: Goodbye Kawthaung
- 7:00 am, got up early to check-out the hotel, went to the pier to do exit procedures.
- Got on the wooden boat to cross the river back to Ranong.
- Riding to the middle of the river at the border post in Myanmar, located on a small islet, the boat docked to check the passport sign. Suddenly, the guard gave a sign to the men, including me, and check the pocket of my clothes and bags to see if there was something, I thought was a drug hidden? Because Burma was once a famous drug-producing place in the world. After reviewing nothing and then let us went.
The Myanmar border post, but hang all Thai flags, I do not understand:
Got to Ranong pier and enter the customs station to seal the entry to Thailand.
– After checking-in, we got onto the pre-booked minibus, which was waiting outside the pier to got to Phuket (a distance of 300km), continuing the journey to explore Koh Phi Phi island, also in the Andaman Sea. connecting two beautiful Burma-Thailand countries.