Last Updated on November 10, 2019 by Soumya
When we were planning our trip to Myanmar, my little one was really interested to go to a beach. The reason: he wanted to make sand castles. After some good amount of research, we zeroed down on Ngapali. I was worried we would get bored while my son got interested in his sand castles. We are not the greatest swimmers and definitely not the best sun-loungers. And Ngapali does not have an active social scene. So the big question was – how do we spend our time here? Ngapali surprised us big time. I did not even realize when my empty list on “what to do in Ngapali” turned into a longish table of 10 interesting items. And I was eager to tick them off all.
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Here, I present to you a list of what to do in Ngapali – places to visit, trips to take, and of course food to eat!
My friends were curious when I got back from Myanmar, especially about my choice of destinations in the western state of Rakhine: Ngapali and Mrauk-U. They still had their doubts if we did anything at all in Ngapali or just whiled away our time at the beautiful Amata Resort. Though that does seem to be a tempting option, we had other plans. I wanted to see as much of Myanmar as possible. And Ngapali proved to be a great way to do that.
Ngapali is a pristine white beach on the western coast of Myanmar. It is home to a neverending view of the Indian ocean, picturesque palm trees, and soft white sand. Apparently, the name Ngapali was coined by an Italian traveler who was missing his hometown, Napoli. Research says there is no truth in that. But as long as it infuses some history and mystery into the place, then why not! I chose to believe it. And tried to tread the same (imaginary) path that the Italian had trodden. Ngapali was so much fun. Here is the list of what I did.
1. Watch A Magical Sunset
Watching a sunset in Ngapali can be a magical experience and that is why I have it on the top of my list. The dying sun paints the sky in hues of red, pink, orange, and yellow. And if there are fishermen out in the sea when the sun sets, their dark silhouettes stand in stark contrast against the glowing colors. This makes the entire experience very memorable.
Another place in Myanmar where you can catch beautiful sunsets is Bagan. Check out my post on Bagan to find out where you can view some pretty sunsets.
2. Eat Delicious Seafood
It is no surprise that when you are on the sea coast you have access to the freshest of seafood. Ngapali is home to some excellent restaurants that churn out delicious Rakhine curries. The Rakhine shrimp curry was definitely one of my favorite dishes in Myanmar. Additionally, Ngapali has some great restaurants on the beach which get active in the evening. It is simply wonderful to sit under the stars, listen to the thunderous roar of the sea, and have some grilled lobsters by candlelight. Plus, you have an option of picking your own lobster!
Related Post: The Best of Myanmar Traditional Food
3. Visit The Ancient City of Thandwe
When in Ngapali, you should definitely visit the ancient city of Thandwe. It is believed that Thandwe (Sandoway) was the capital of the powerful Arakan Empire. Visiting the town and the local market are both good ways to explore the Burmese way of life. The market is always abuzz with activity: merchants calling to each other, customers haggling over prices, and kids running around. You will never get bored here. And more importantly, you will find a lot of different things on sale and some good places to buy longyis (traditional Burmese clothing).
4. Stroll Around Gyeik Taw Fishing Village
We took a trip to the local fishing village of Gyeik Taw on our bike. Here you can see the houses and workplaces of fishermen, their boats, and how they get their nets ready when they go out into the sea. Some of the best seafood in Ngapali comes from here. Fish and shrimps spread out to dry on the sand are a common sight in the village. We also stopped to watch and talk to some fishermen preparing nets.
Still wondering what to do in Ngapali? Read on to find an exhaustive list of stimulating activities in and around Myanmar’s best beach.
5. Lounge In The Sun or Get A Massage
The best thing that you can do in Ngapali is lounge in the sun or maybe get a massage on the beach. Get your towels and just lay on the beach under the many palm trees. There are also a number of accommodation options with private beaches and sun loungers. We stayed at the Amata Resort & Spa at Ngapali and it had these beautiful sun loungers facing the ocean. Alternately, you can get an inexpensive massage at one of the many massage shacks on the beach.
6. Indulge in Water Sports
Ngapali isn’t the most famous spot for water sports but it has a decent infrastructure. With the help of the Ngapali Water Sports Center, you can go snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and sport-fishing. They also do river trips in Thandwe and sunset tours. Not many people think of water sports when they think about what to do in Ngapali but this is an area that is definitely coming up.
7. Visit The Hilltop Buddha
If you are the thrillseeking kind, make a trip to the Hilltop Buddha in the south of Ngapali. You can get here only by walking, bicycling, or biking. However, the road conditions are not great and the last stretch is quite steep. The views from the top are exquisite. You can get panoramic views of the ocean and the bay as far as your eyes can stretch.
8. Click A Picture On/Of The Famous Palm Trees
The palm trees of Ngapali are famous and quite picturesque. You get to see them in so many pictures of the beach. Some of them bend forward a lot as if inviting you for a climb. Many tourists enjoy doing it. Climb or not, these trees make the Perfect Instagram Pictures.
9. Take A Hot-Air Balloon Ride
We did not do this but a hot air balloon ride in Ngapali is highly recommended. Sunrise tours are preferred. You get to fly over pagodas, villages, forest covers and catch some amazing views of the varied and beautiful landscape of Ngapali. There are a number of service providers for the purpose. I had never heard of balloons over beaches and this was a surprise. Apparently, the authorities decided on it because of the scenery of Ngapali was just too beautiful to be seen from the ground. It had to be witnessed from above!
10. Get Friendly With Locals
Burmese are a friendly lot. It is not really hard to get a smile out of them, they are always smiling. Sometimes they are only too eager to get clicked with you or by you. This was a picture we took at the fishing village of Gyeik Taw. The kids were happy to spot us in the village and really wanted to strike up a conversation. And we did! With our hands and our smiles! And this was definitely my favorite thing to do in Ngapali.
Related post: People of Myanmar – A peek into their lives and routines
How To Get to Ngapali Beach in Myanmar
The best way to get to Ngapali is by air. You can fly to Thandwe Airport from Yangon in about 50 minutes. Thandwe is directly connected to only two cities by air: Yangon and Kyaukpyu, another town in Rakhine. Flights are fewer in the rainy season (May to October) because of bad weather. Ngapali is only 15 minutes from Thandwe Airport which can be covered by taxi/hotel shuttle.
If you are on a budget you can take a bus from Yangon which takes about 15 hours on average or a taxi which can take anywhere between 10-12 hours.
If you are in Ngapali, do make time for the forgotten ruins of Mrauk U – the lost capital city of the ancient Arakan empire.
Where to stay in Ngapali
We were traveling as a family and wanted to enjoy the beach to the fullest. That is why we chose the highly recommended, Amata Resort & Spa right on the beach. The hotel delighted us with spacious rooms, great food, and impeccable service.
If you are looking to splurge, check out the Amazing Ngapali Resort orthe Hilton Ngapali Resort and Spa. If you are on a budget, then Kipling’s Bay Guest House and Mingalarpar Ngapali Guest House are great options.
When To Visit Ngapali Beach
As we have listed down in our post on the best time to visit Myanmar, you should ideally visit Ngapali between November – April which is the dry season. Temperatures are low and the weather is pleasant. This is also the ballooning season if you are interested in that. May – October, on the other hand, is the wet season and it can get quite hot and humid.
Here’s my take on what to do in Ngapali. We had a great time there and would choose to go back if we got a chance. Ngapali beach in Myanmar is pretty, quiet, friendly, and inexpensive. All of this makes it very attractive and, definitely, a beach destination with a difference.
Have you been to Ngapali? What did you do there? Will you go there again? Out of all these exciting things to do in Ngapali, which one do you think you will do? Feel free to drop me a line below.