Mergui Archipelago: Asia’s Forgotten Paradise
In a remote corner of southern Myanmar, lies an archipelago full of undisturbed islands. With stretches of bone-white sand enclosed by azure coral reefs and impenetrable walls of jungle-clad limestone karsts, each island offers its own unspoiled ‘Robinson Crusoe’ experience.
Every year, less then 2,000 visitors make their way to this island utopia. And with over 800 islands to explore, the Mergui Archipelago remains as Asia’s last hidden paradise.
Take a second and imagine a place where time stands still…
A place where you feel like the last person on earth: no shops, no tourist boats – not even a cell phone signal. Just dozens of fiddler crabs that scuttled into the water at your approach and curious monkeys that spy from the towering coconut palms.
It’s just you, on a heavenly-looking island… one that’s free of human intervention and pristine, just as nature intended. Solitude at its finest.
In this day and age, solitude is a luxury that most people can’t afford.
Days of travel plus months of planning, place ‘solitude’ into a realm of “wealth” that can’t be bought by money… only by time.
And while solitude is one of our most valuable currencies for inner peace, our busy and chaotic lives, have made it virtually impossible to spend.
Thankfully, the Mergui Archipelago is a place where solitude is a commodity rather than a purchased luxury. Here, you don’t seek solitude… instead, it finds you.
Outside of solitude, the Mergui Archipelago is an adventurer’s haven…
From exploring tropical forests, to hiking through valleys, walk along kilometers of beach with only footprints behind you, kayak through enchanted mangroves, swim, snorkel, scuba dive, and go fishing: you’ve got it all.
Composed of limestone and granite that are hundreds of millions of years old, these islands are teeming with diversity as their sizes vary from tiny to miles long. And no matter how diverse, each idyllic island is fringed by an azure coral reef and adorned with sand so fine that it feels like flour between your toes…
Island after island… the beaches here are the definition of pristine – littered only with giant clams, shells, and natural beauty.
As with the rest of Indochina, November to April is the high season for tourism in the Mergui Archipelago. December to February offers the clearest and most comfortable conditions – warm weather, sunny skies, steady winds, and calm seas. In March to April, there’s less wind albeit higher temperatures – which makes for clearer waters and the best time for snorkeling and diving.
From May to October, you can expect strong onshore winds, a larger swell, and volatile rain storms – its the region’s monsoon season. For safety reasons, day trip speedboats and cruises do not operate during this time.
#1 The best islands in the archipelago are accessed from the southern town of Kawthaung, a two-hour flight from Yangon or a 30-minute boat ride across the Kra Buri River from Ranong in Thailand. As for the islands in the north that are accessed via Myiek, they’re nice but nothing special.
#2 We highly recommend staying in a resort or camping areas rather than Kawthaung – you’ll have easy access to the beaches and much greater personal safety. If you do decide to stay in Kawthaung (due to budget constraints), just be vigilant – border towns are always sketchy.
#3 In southern Myanmar, paying with Thai baht rather than Burmese kyat is preferred by most businesses – you’ll actually “pay less” when using baht versus the kyat.
#4 If you want to interact with the Moken sea gypsies, you’ll need to go on a liveaboard – day trip speedboats are plagued by regulations that prohibit tour groups from going to islands where the Moken have been forced to set up “semi-nomadic” homes.