Mergui Archipelago, located in southernmost part of Myanmar (Burma), comprises over 800 beautiful islands. Due to its virtual isolation, the islands and surrounding seas are alive with an amazing diversity of flora & fauna and very beautiful underwater scenes and marine life.
HOW TO GET THERE
Yangon to Kawthaung takes 1 hr 40 min by domestic airlines. From Bangkok, it takes only 50 minutes to Ranong by Air Asia (www.airasia.com). From Ranong Airport it takes another 15 minutes to Ranong jetty and transfer to Myanmar Andaman Resort via Myanmar Immigration Check Point at Kawthaung (Victoria Point) by speed boat (1 hr 40 min). One Two Go airlines also operate daily from Bangkok to Phuket and Surat Thani. It takes about 5 hours drive from Phuket to Ranong and 3 hours and 30 minutes drive from Surat Thani to Ranong by private taxi. The Resort’s Speed boat has daily departure and arrival Kawthaung and Ranong. From Yangon to Myeik (Mergui) 1 hr by domestic airlines and 14 hrs cruise from Myeik to our resort. Also by cruise or yacht from Phuket, Krabi and Hat Yai of Thailand.
A visa is required. A tourist visa for Myanmar can be obtained from any Myanmar Diplomatic Missions abroad. Visas are valid for 28 days. Tourists who will be traveling to Myanmar on a Package Tour should present a copy of Myanmar Travel agent’s Confirmation of travel arrangements when applying for your visa. You will then receive an Entry Visa for tourist (EVT). If given advance notification 5 working days prior to your arrival, we are able to arrange for a visa on arrival (VOA) in Kawthaung (Victoria Point). For the process of VOA, we need passport details (name, passport number, nationality, father’s name) and address and occupation in abroad in advance.
A special permit is required for tourist who entered Myanmar through Yangon or Mandalay International Airport and would like to exit through Ranong, Thailand border town by border crossing at the end of the trip and those who entered Myanmar by border crossing from Ranong and would like to continue traveling to up country and exit through Yangon or Mandalay International Airport. Please kindly contact your local travel agent with the regarding of this special permit.
The only human inhabitants in the area are sea gypsies, namely Salon in Myanmar. They live on boats during dry season and remain on land during rainy season. They still practice the same fishing and boat building techniques used for generation.
Salone Festival is held on 16th February, to promote the salone people way of life and of Mergui Mergui Myanmar Archipelago a tourist Destination. Being affectionate to sea, much skilful in swimming and diving, their ways of life and customs are so characteristic that traditional festival will be launched intending to attract international tourists as well as to operate marine eco-tourism around the islands in Archipelago.
Just north of the Surin Islands, an imaginary line divides Thai waters from Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago. Also known as the Archipelago, this immense area covers approximately 36,000 sp km (14,000 sq miles) and included roughly 800 islands. Diving here is still in its infancy, as the entire region has been off-limits to outsiders since the late 1940s. After several years of negotiation by Phuket dive operators, the archipelago was opened for tourism in 1997, yet much of the area remains unexplored.
The islands are similar to their Thai counterparts, with rugged, high-profile limestone and granite topography. One obvious difference, aside from the sheer number of Myanmar islands, is their unspoiled terrestrial scenery. Dense brush and rainforest cover most areas above the high-tide line, while vast stretches of mangroves and magnificent white-sand beaches are interspersed with rocky headlands, tidal creeks and a few freshwater rivers. Though several of the larger islands are home to small communities of Moken ‘sea gypsies,’ the vast majority are uninhabited and largely untouched by humans.
Underwater, this region offers scenic reefs, fascinating topography and prolific fish and invertebrate life. One of the main attractions for divers is the strong possibility of seeing big animals, especially sharks and rays. More dependable, however, is the tremendous variety of smaller fish and reef creatures, including many unusual species, some of which are rarely encountered in Thai waters. Add to this the allure of diving where few people have before and you’ve got all the ingredients for a top-notch dive destination. Considering the vast number of islands and reefs, many more dive sites are undoubtedly waiting to be discovered.
The diving here has tremendous potential, yet serious environmental problems threaten the reefs. Trawling and long line fishing have put heavy pressure on fish populations and the marine habitat in general, but the biggest threat is blast fishing with dynamite, which Myanmar has done little to discourage. You are likely to hear bombs go off at least once during a multi-day trip anywhere in the archipelago. Virtually all Mergui sites show at least some evidence of blast fishing, from craters of broken coral to piles of orange cup corals and even huge chunks of rock that have been blasted off vertical walls.
Despite the environmental threats, the diving in the Mergui is still excellent. Even at sites that are bombed regularly, soft corals, anemones and gorgonian fans usually survive undamaged, as do nudibranchs, cuttlefish, octopuses and other invertebrates. Fish that lack swim bladders (like sharks, rays and moray eels) also seem unaffected, unless the explosion is very close. Also, since many fish move from reef to reef, new fish seem to show up all the time.
In addition to dedicated drive trips, several companies offer eco-adventure trips in Mergui Archipelago, combining sailing, snorkeling, diving, beach-combing, island exploration and, in some cases, kayaking. It is too early to say what this area’s long-term prospects are, but hopefully, increasing interest in ecotourism will provide enough incentive for the authorities to take action and protect the reefs before it is too late.
Accommodation: Myanmar Andaman Resort is the best for your privacy.
Free & Easy Package to Myanmar Andaman Resort
4 Days/3 Nights in Myanmar
Day1. YANGON-KAWTHAUNG (by morning flight)
After breakfast, transfer to Yangon airport and take a flight to Kawthaung with domestic flight. Upon arrival, the guide from MAR will pick you up at the airport and transfer to the jetty and proceed to Myanmar Andaman Resort with speed boat. Free at leisure and have lunch and dinner as indicated in the itinerary. Overnight at MAR.
Day2. FORK ISLAND
Free at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day3. FORK ISLAND
Free at leisure. Overnight at hotel.
Day4. FORK ISLAND-KAWTHAUNG-YANGON (by morning flight)
Early morning, take the ferry speed boat and come back to Kawthaung. Upon arrival, transfer to Kawthaung airport and fly back to Yangon with domestic flight. Free at leisure at the hotel or take a city tour with your own arrangement.
Optional Activities on Day 2 & 3
visiting Islands & villages
Trekking & Jungle safari
Sea Kayaking & Fishing
Diving & Snorkeling
Who are the “Sea – gypsy”?
Where do they live?
What are the reputations of these people? The “Salon “of Myanmar, who called themselves, “Moken “, are forgotten people who fight for their survival. They adopt their way of life as marine nomads. They are expert in swimming, diving and submerging in the sea —- and hence the names “Sea – gypsy “or “Men of the Sea”.
The salon can be found in the Southern part of Myeik Archipelago which has more than 800 small islands. It has been believed that the salon people had lived, in the ancient times, on the Malay Peninsula until the Malay incursion when they left their native places and lived scattered throughout the Myeik Archipelago. Now – a – days, the salon can only be found on the coastal islands around Kawthoung, formerly Victoria Point — the southern most town of Myanmar.