Myanmar - Getting to know Myeik (Mergui) Archipelago
Stretched down the Andaman coast to the very southern tip of Myanmar, the Myeik - or Mergui - region is defined by its archipelago of over 800 islands, mostly covered in lush vegetation & often fringed with soft white margins of sand, strewn with broken, sun-bleached branches & smelling of salt - definitely not Ambre Solaire.
Off-limits to foreigners until 1997, the Myeik area remains unfamiliar to modern Western travellers. Although a scattering of holiday facilities are now available, 'low-impact' tourism is very much key here.
The city of Myeik itself is several hundred years old, a historic seaport which thrives by trading fish, lobsters, rubber, coconuts, farmed pearls & edible bird’s nests. The peninsula is largely protected by National Park status, with diverse ecosystems spanning from mangrove swamps to coral reefs.
What to do in the Myeik archipelago
- Sail, or have someone else do it for you. You can spend time on a shared yacht, or charter one all to yourself.
- Diving & snorkelling in Myeik (also known as Mergui) is excellent, with expansive seagrass beds harbouring an abundance of marine life, including whale sharks & rays.
The Myeik archipelago is known as being home to the Moken sea-tribe, a nomadic group of around 3,000 who live in hand-made wooden boats & stilt-houses just off the coast. Expert free divers, they make a living by searching for mother-of-pearl & oysters. They catch their own fish & barter with what they don’t eat themselves. More of them are starting to settle on land these days, but a few still stick to the old ways
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