Mergui Archipelago: Gateway to the Archipelago
There are two main gateways to the archipelago: Myeik and Kawthaung. Neither town has a lot to see so most guests just use them as a stopover before their cruise. But if you do have a half day to explore, it is worth looking around as they have a distinct charm. Kawthaung, at the far south of Myanmar, is the most popular starting trip for a holiday in the Mergui Archipelago. The seaside town is a thriving trade port thanks to its location just 30 minutes from the Thai border. There are a few sites to see in Kawthaung but a stroll around the town’s center is an interesting way to spend an afternoon before boarding a Mergui cruise! The other starting point for a Mergui adventure is Myeik, a busy port located north of Kawthaung. The town has a unique feel to it with fading colonial buildings standing alongside more modern high-rises. Watching the sunset over town from the Theindawgyi Pagoda is the perfect way to close out a day in Myeik.
Mergui Archipelago: Sailing through paradise
The most popular way to discover this spectacular stretch of the Andaman Sea is with a Mergui Archipelago live-aboard cruise. A short introductory three-day cruise gives you a taste of the natural beauty of Mergui but if you can stay longer, a week-long cruise will take you deeper into the archipelago where more untouched islands beckon. Days are spent motoring across the sea and stopping often to swim or snorkel. You will also visit some of the 800 islands, going ashore on the soft sands for a chance to explore the interior jungle or to simply relax under a swaying palm tree. At night, the ship drops anchor in a secluded bay and dinners of freshly-caught seafood are served under the star-filled sky. The solitude of the sea and the sound of the waves gently lapping against the shore will certainly lull you into a good night’s sleep.
Mergui Archipelago: Adventures at Sea
If you like to be a bit more active on your Myanmar holiday, do not worry- the Mergui Archipelago is a natural playground for sports enthusiasts. Aside from swimming, the Andaman Sea offers great opportunities for snorkeling and SCUBA diving. Grab a mask and hop overboard to discover coral reefs and a seemingly endless variety of tropical fish. Most Mergui Archipelago cruises have kayaks on board. Taking a paddle around a secluded island is an unforgettable experience- an adventure that is sure to be a highlight of your Myanmar holiday. Some islands feature dense jungles and the ship’s crew can lead adventurous hikes and safari excursions into the rugged interior of the island.
Mergui Archipelago: Cultural encounters at sea
Most of your days cruising the Mergui Archipelago will be filled with miles of ocean views and tranquil islands with a few signs of life other than the fish swimming beneath the sea. However, if you are lucky, you may encounter the Moken people. These nomadic fishermen, often referred to as “sea gypsies,” were once found throughout the Archipelago; but, these days their numbers are dwindling. Should you chance upon their wooden boats, you will get a chance to learn about their unique way of life. The Moken have a special connection with the sea which is evident when they fish, diving deep underwater for minutes at a time.
Mergui Archipelago: Back on dry land
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end; and after a few lazy days of sea, sun, and sand, it is time to return to land. After disembarking from your Mergui Archipelago cruise in Kawthaung you can catch a domestic flight to Yangon or cross overland to the Thai town of Ranong. Regardless of where your onward travels may lead, your holiday in the Mergui Archipelago is sure to have left you with endless memories to fill the pages of your Myanmar Diaries.
Ei Phyo Pai (Ms.)
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- Discovering remote, unspoiled beaches
- Snorkeling amid colorful marine life and corals
- Encountering nomadic Moken fishermen at sea
- Dining on freshly caught seafood
- From November to April
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