Ngapali beach is renowned for being one of the most pristine and picturesque beaches in Southeast Asia. If you’ve never heard of it before, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Its pristine nature is due to the fact that it’s still a hidden gem in the world of tourist destinations.
It’s been gaining in popularity in recent years, but is still a far cry from the mainstream beaches of southern Thailand. First things first, the pronunciation: The g is silent, and it is pronounced more like “na-pa-li.”
Ngapali beach is located on the western coast of Myanmar, northwest of its capital city of Yangon. It sits on the edge of the Bay of Bengal, where the clear blue waters meet bright white sands. Its remote location means it takes a bit of effort to get there, but it’s definitely worth the trip. If you’re planning a visit to Myanmar, it should absolutely be on your list.
How to Get to Ngapali Beach
Because of its somewhat isolated location on the coast of Myanmar, traveling to Ngapali beach isn’t the easiest. Flights there are not as cheap or readily available as ones you’d find to many of the popular beaches of Thailand or Indonesia. But if you’re willing to shell out the extra cash, flying is the easiest way to get there.
The closest airport to Ngapali Beach is Thandwe Airport, which is located between Ngapali Beach and the town of Thandwe.
There are flights available from Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Sittwe, and Heho, with prices varying depending on which place you depart from. Generally, the cheaper options will be from the biggest cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
If you don’t want to pay for a flight to the beach, there are other–albeit less comfortable–options available. The most popular choice with the locals is taking a bus from Yangon, which is a lot cheaper than flying.
The downside is it takes upwards of 11 hours each way and is not known for being especially comfortable. Buses are also available from Bagan, but you must stop in the town of Pyay to change buses before continuing on to Thandwe. VIP buses will be more comfortable but operate on a pretty loose schedule.
Things to do in Ngapali Beach
Bask in the Beach
People come from all over to see Ngapali Beach, swim in the ocean, and sunbathe on the white sand. But in addition to the beautiful beaches, there are lots of other activities that make it a bucket list worthy destination. There are two main stretches of beach: the south beach and the north beach.
Both offer beautiful sand and nearby restaurants, bars, and hotels. There are more hotels (and expensive ones) in the northern section close to the airport, but as a result, the beaches there are well-kept and clean.
The southern section features many hotels as well, with the upper section featuring an extensive selection of restaurants and bars. Regardless of where you choose to spend your time, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. Here are some of the most popular things to do in Ngapali beach and the surrounding area.
While not on the beach exactly, this market is in the town of Thandwe close by. The market sets up in the center of town and offers a variety of goods and wares, from fresh produce to handmade crafts and clothing. It’s not one of the bigger markets in Myanmar but is still a great spot to visit and do some shopping.
The market is open daily starting at 6am, shutting down around 4pm (but if you want the best selection of goods, you’re best off going early in the day).
Hot Air Ballooning
If you’re looking for a taste of adventure, Myanmar offers some amazing hot air balloon tours. There are several tour companies, but Oriental Ballooning operates out of Ngapali beach. Soaring high in the air you’ll have the opportunity to take in views of the beaches, towns, and the sparkling Bay of Bengal during your tour. If you’re interested in doing this activity, check out Flymya as they have a booking engine particularly for hot air balloons, allowing you to compare the price between various companies.
Editor’s Note: Check out our article on the Best Beaches in Myanmar
Whether you’ve gone a hundred times or are a snorkeling novice, Ngapali beach is a terrific place to snorkel. There are several companies that offer tours and equipment rental if you’re looking to explore the local sea life up close and in person. There are also boat tours that will take you off the coast and provide you with snorkeling gear to explore from the boat.
Take a break from the adventuring and exploring and wind down with a beachfront yoga class. There are seven-day yoga retreats available or drop in classes if you’re looking for something a little less intense. Yoga Amata is the most well-known yoga studio in Ngapali beach and accepts students of all levels.
Shwe Nandaw Pagoda Hill
If you’re willing to drive a little bit, the Shwe Nandaw Pagoda, also known as “Temple of the Rib” is located on a hilltop just ten minutes outside of the town of Thandwe. This temple is a beautiful spot to visit and take in views of the valley below. It’s a small pagoda but makes for a lovely afternoon stroll, offering a break from the bustle of the beach town of Ngapali.
There are a few different tour companies in Ngapali beach that offer hiking and trekking tours. Most are pretty easy and almost anyone can participate. The geography of Ngapali beach is not extremely difficult to navigate, and most tours offered are only half-day excursions at most. These hiking tours are an excellent way to take in the natural scenery and get a glimpse of Myanmar’s exquisite jungles. You can get a taste of jungle living, get some exercise, and still be back in time for lunch!
If you have experience diving, you can do so in Ngapali beach. However, there is only one dive company that operates in the area, and it has mixed reviews. The water is not as clear as other places nearby and the dive company is not as thorough as many divers would like. If you are a novice scuba diver, I would not recommend this as your first spot. But the opportunity is there if you’re an experienced diver wanting to explore the area!
Where to Stay in Ngapali Beach
Whether you’re looking for a five-star hotel or a budget hostel, Ngapali has accommodation options for every need. The first thing to decide is which area of the beach you want to stay in, the northern part near the airport, or the southern end closer to the town of Gyeiktaw. No matter what you choose, there are plenty of options available. Here are some of the top-rated spots to stay in Ngapali beach.
Yoma Cherry Lodge: This hotel on Kiplings Bay has just 15 rooms, but offers lush scenery and excellent service.
River Top Lodge: For a great budget-friendly option, this hotel in the south stays around $50 USD per night, but still boasts high quality and a variety of amenities.
WEstay @ Chillax House: While the name might be a mouthful, this hostel offers cheap rooms and great service in a relaxed environment.
Ngapali Bay Villas and Spa: If you really want to splurge, this all-out resort has everything from a private pool to spa facilities and top-tier service.
Whether you’re looking for adventure or just wanting to relax on the beach for a few days, Ngapali beach doesn’t disappoint. The toughest is part is getting there, but once you’ve arrived, I guarantee you won’t want to leave!