Ngapali Beach (pronounced Na-pal-ly) is that tropical beach - the quiet one that only a handful of travellers ever seem to get to. It isn’t completely untouched by tourism, and recent years have seen a slight increase in construction, but Ngapali’s idyllic coastline is still punctuated by little more than a few bungalow-style resorts. There are always fishermen pottering about, and ox-drawn carts traversing the soft, virtually empty sands. It has a relaxed, fishing-village vibe, free from any noisy beach bars or pushy hawkers, and you’ll feel yourself instantly relax as you gaze towards the tranquil horizon.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
The activities on offer in Ngapali fit its relaxed ambiance very well. There are snorkelling opportunities, a reasonable golf course, boat trips to deserted islands, and several nearby villages where you can see traditional artisans in action - clay pottery in Kinmaw and hand weaving in Thandwe. Away from the beach lie vast areas of untouched jungle and forested hills, which are particularly spectacular when viewed from a hot air balloon. As the morning mist lifts, take in the panoramic views of jungle-clad mountains and meandering rivers, a landscape dotted with temples, and the pristine coastline in the distance.
There’s a good variety of restaurants along the shoreline and inland road which all, unsurprisingly, serve excellent, ultra-fresh seafood. Try hot-and-sour muscles, freshly-grilled red snapper, spicy tiger prawns, zingy fish curries and many other dishes, all washed down with a freshly-squeezed juice or cold Burmese beer. There’s something about eating seafood just a few yards from where it was landed that always feels extra special. If you don’t mind an early start, you can watch the fishermen bring in their daily catch at dawn on the beach just south of Ngapali golf course.
About four miles inland, with three modest hilltop stupas offering fantastic views over the town, Thandwe is well worth a ramble for a change of scene. Its thriving market, held in what used to be a jail, sells all manner of regional produce, clothes, fabric, and locally-produced artisan crafts. Take a boat trip (and a picnic lunch) to Pearl Island or Pirate Beach and spend a day relaxing on the pristine white sands and snorkelling in the clear waters. For a bit more of an adventure, Zalat Htone is a nearby black-sand island that can be easily reached by bike.