[top photo: A view of Ngwe Saung Beach in Myanmar.]
By Cheryl Tan
BEAUTIFUL BEACHES, FRESH SEAFOOD
Ngwe Saung, Myanmar
Locals say the 14.5km beach at Ngwe Saung, which faces the Bay of Bengal, is ideal for a romantic getaway. It is known for its quiet and uber-chill lifestyle.
Located 232km west of the capital Yangon, this is a little-known paradise, says Sunny Paradise Resort room division manager Tun Zaw Oo.
He adds: "The water is clear, there is hardly any pollution and the beach is clean."
The 33-year-old also recommends the quaint village to retirees who just want a relaxing holiday.
Also known as the Silver Beach, Ngwe Saung boasts unspoilt white sandy beaches, blue waters and privacy.
Apart from just lazing about and getting a tan on the beach, visitors can also go fishing, scuba diving and surfing.
Getting there: Take a SilkAir flight to Yangon. Then take a taxi to Hlaing Thar Yar bus station. Book a five- to seven-hour bus ride (5,000 kyats) to Ngwe Saung. Departures are between 7am and 2pm daily.
Where to stay: Yuzana Resort Hotel offers rooms (from US$50) with sea-facing balconies, air-conditioning and attached toilets. Massage and laundry services are available.
Sunny Paradise Resort is located right on the beach and has bungalows that cater to families. It is marketed as a top-notch resort with room rates starting from US$130 for a three-person family room.
Cost: About $516.50 a person
Chaungtha Beach, Myanmar
A group of people posing for a photograph with a huge fish that they caught during a fishing trip at Chaungtha Beach in Myanmar.
Ask local tour manager Kyaw Nyein Aung why Chaungtha Beach is worth visiting and he cannot stop singing praises of the place.
"The village and beach are so beautiful and the seafood is so fresh," he says over the phone.
The 35-year-old, who is also known as George, works at the Shwe Hin Tha Hotel and organises tours in Myanmar.
Chaungtha Beach, which is also popular among the Burmese middle-class as a holiday destination, is his speciality. Located about 248km west of the capital Yangon, it is known for its wide beaches, though these are slightly muddy.
But for seafood lovers, it is a haven. According to Mr Kyaw, the seafood restaurants there offer a wide variety that is fresh and cheap. A lobster dish starts from 15,000 kyats (S$19) and scallops and prawns cost 41,000 kyats a plate.
All these are freshly caught by the local fishermen.
For a glimpse into the local fishing industry, Mr Kyaw urges travellers to visit the fish market, which is open from 6 to 9am daily.
For activities, there are snorkelling and boating trips to explore the offshore The' Phyu Island (White Sand Island) and Pho Kalar Island, where visitors can wade in the shallow waters and spot scuttling red and green crabs.
Boats leave at 8am and return at 5pm daily.
Getting there: Take a three-hour SilkAir flight to Yangon ($398). Then take a 45-minute taxi ride (about 3,000 kyats) to Hlaing Thar Yar bus station where you can book a five- to seven-hour bus ride (5,000 to 6,000 kyats) to Chaungtha. Note: Not all bus operators offer air-conditioned vehicles with comfortable seats.
Where to stay: Rooms from US$40 (S$58) at Golden Beach Resort Hotel are air-conditioned and come with complimentary buffet breakfast.
Hotel Max Chaungtha Beach will be a luxe choice for travellers not on a tight budget. Rooms start from US$70 a night and include breakfast. Massage and spa facilities are available.
Cost: About $495 a person
This article was first published in The Straits Times.