It was a sunny afternoon in Yangon Myanmar when we decided we should head for the coast. My boyfriend Rob, my friend Lauren, and I went to the front desk of our hostel and asked if we could purchase bus tickets for the next morning to go to the beach. Where would you like to go, he asked. It didn’t matter, any coastal town would do, as long as there was a beach and we could go first thing in the morning. The guy at the desk happily obliged us, and early the next morning we were packed onto a bus with the locals heading for the little beach resort town of Ngwe Saung.
Most western tourist visiting Myanmar don’t venture out to the coast. But a friend back in Thailand had recommended the little towns of Chaung Thar and Ngwe Saung. And who doesn’t enjoy a few days lounging on the beach?
The bus ride out to Ngwe Saung was a little rough. It was eight hours packed into what I later heard called a “chicken bus”. The chicken bus refers to busses that usually only locals take, it cheap, you get packed in and people are constantly getting on and off. Once the regular seats fill up people sit in the isles either on little plastic children’s chairs or just on the ground.
But once we got to the beach it all seemed worth it. I immediately forgot about the bus ride at the sight of the yellow sand and turquoise water.
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The only hostel in town was booked for the first night so we splurged and got a room in one of the fancy resorts. Totally worth it. Our room opened up right onto the beach. We spent that first evening drinking beers on the porch and watching the sunset over the water.
The next day we moved over to the hostel; can’t be fancy all the time. We spent the day roaming around the beaches, hanging out in the sun, and drinking fresh coconuts. Late in the afternoon we stumbled upon some guys with horses offering rides on the beach. Lauren used to ride and was so excited. Most of the time the guys will just lead you down the beach on the horse, but since she had some experience they let her go for it.
One of the coolest thing we found was the double pagodas. Atop two identical rocks stood two matching gold pagodas right there on the beach.
Later that evening we got to talking with the owner of the hostel. We were trying to figure out the best way to get up the coast to the next town of Chaung Thar. He told us there was no direct road between the towns. We’d have to take the bus back inland then back out to the coast in a sort of triangle path. That just seemed dumb, having to take a several hour bus ride just to get a few miles. Then he mentioned that he knew a few guys we could hire to drive us up the coast on the beach via motorbike if we wanted.
Now that sounded like fun!
A ride up the coast
The next morning three guys on scooters came to pick us up, one a peice. My guy shoved my suitcases between his legs on the front of the scooter and I jumped on the back and held on for dear life.
The ride up the beach was amazing. We rode on the sand across beautiful deserted beaches, through skinny little footpaths in the jungle, and crossed rivers via janky looking wooden barges with probably not more than a lawnmower engine to power it.
We rode across dozens of beautiful and deserted beaches. It always seems a little crazy to me coming from California where we love our beaches and they are all accessible for the most part and that means they are almost never empty. But these beaches were pristine and preserved and totally wild with not a foot print in sight.
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We stopped and had tea and cookies in one of the little beach side villages while we waited for a barge to cross the river. All the locals there were so friendly and welcoming, offering us tea or coffee and snacks.
The most exciting part of the ride for me was getting to see such beautiful scenery that most tourist don’t ever see. And getting to hang out and talk with locals in the little villages we stopped in. Everyone wanted to practice their English, so we were happy to oblige and to learn some key Myanmar words in return.
The first part of our beach adventure was totally mind blowing. Getting to go between towns via motorbike rather than the bus was such a cool and unique experience. And finding all the little pagodas on the beach was so cool.
Stay tuned later this week for more of our beach adventure!