Have you ever heard of Ngapali Beach in Myanmar? If not, you’re not
alone. Before I came to Myanmar, I had no plans and the only thing I knew I
wanted to see was Bagan. I thought Myanmar would be a lot about temples,
pagodas and big cities. While I did see a lot of pagodas, I also saw one the
most serene and beautiful beaches in Asia. When I took a taxi to my hostel, I
managed to speak a few words with the driver. He told me that if I really
wanted to relax and enjoy a good beach, I should head to Ngapali. I quickly
wrote it down on my phone so I wouldn’t forget and vowed to go there, however
long it would take me.
To my surprise, it wasn’t that difficult to get there. It took less
than 13 hours from Yangon to Ngapali, on winding roads through the mountains.
The bus cost me about 13$ and with that, I was on my way. When I finally got to
go explore, I realized how small the area was and that there was just one big
stretch of a beach. My first question was ‘which beach is the nicest?’ to which
I got a funny look. Of course, there’s only one. And it’s a beautiful one.
Although Ngapali isn’t a stranger to tourism – there’s lots of resorts here –
it still feels very abandoned in a way, in comparison to the other beaches in
Thailand. You almost have the entire beach all to yourself! There’s not a lot
of vendors trying to sell you things and it’s just a very quiet, relaxed
atmosphere. The water is crystal clear with white soft sand, the beach is
surrounded by green palm trees and some sun beds which belongs to the resorts.
The town itself is very small and there’s some restaurants and even small bars
to choose from when your stomach starts to growl.
The beach really glows during sunrise so make sure that you don’t miss it if you’re there. The atmosphere doesn’t really change at night, it’s still very serene and quiet, which is perfect if you’re looking for a place where you can just relax. It’s bound to change in a few years or so though, since tourism in Myanmar is rising and more and more people are starting to discover Ngapali Beach. So if you want to go to one of Asia’s last hidden gems, make sure that you go to Myanmar as soon as you can and head to Ngapali Beach. You won’t regret it.
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Last year, in 2018, I got the chance to visit the beautiful island Sri Lanka. I noticed that tourism was just booming, but still had a very authentic feel to it. I decided to spend one full month in Sri Lanka in order to see as much as possible. Although it’s a small country, don’t underestimate public transportation. The roads are not so developed and therefore everything takes longer. Much longer. The trains are also slow so don’t expect that you’ll get there faster with the train. But I found this to be part of Sri Lanka’s charm – it’s after all an island and the pace on islands are always a bit slower and more relaxed. Although Sri Lanka could be far from relaxing at times.
I had the incredible chance to travel in the south of Sri Lanka, where all the beaches were. If you’re surfing, don’t miss out on the opportunity to go here. The waves are good for any levels and the climate is always warm, which makes it perfect for surfing sessions.
I landed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which also was where I got the first impressions of the country. Unfortunately. The capital city isn’t much to hang in the tree, but there’s some hidden gems there that might be worth visiting. But if you don’t have a lot of time, I’d recommend to skip it. It’s the beaches that are worth coming for. Every day was a new day to go explore a new beach on the coast, and every time I got either pleasantly surprised or decided to jump on the motorbike and drive to a new one. What’s so good about visiting a country before it gets overly touristy is that you can still find places that are secluded and abandoned. And that’s just what we did. It felt like we had found a small slice of paradise. The best thing is that you don’t need to go far either to find these beaches. Once you’re down in the south, transportation will be easier and the distances are shorter. If you go by local bus, you’ll also notice how incredibly cheap a ride is. You can of course, also take tuk tuks that are more than willing to take you wherever you want to go. But make sure to decide on a price before entering the tuk tuk.
All in all, a month in Sri Lanka gave me lots of sunshine therapy, I got to know a different culture, ate some incredible roti and kottu (which is basically the only two dishes you’ll find in Sri Lanka), got to see some beautiful pristine beaches and now I’m one experience richer! My hopes for Sri Lanka is that it still remains authentic and that visitors who goes there will still be able to find secluded beaches, just like we did. And once you do, you’ll have a hard time leaving.
There’s not many places in the world that has left quite the impact as Hoi An. I knew it would be a beautiful and quaint town in mid Vietnam, but I wouldn’t have predicted that I would fall in love with this little place. Safe to say, I extended my visit here with a few days.
There’s a lot of things to love about Hoi An. After having spent countless of days, even months, in huge cities in Asia, I needed a little break from the hustle and bustle. That’s why I decided to pay a little visit to Hoi An. I knew it was one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam, and therefore there would probably be a bit more people there, but I barely noticed. I was too busy looking at all the beautiful architecture surrounding the Old Town. The architecture is a fusion of Chinese, French, Japanese and Vietnamese, so you can be sure that you’ll see some interesting buildings. The atmosphere is very laid back in Hoi An, which I really like, and people here seem to be less stressed and more… happy! Their mood affected my mood. During day time, I rented a bike and went to the beach to get my daily dose of Vitamin D. Then I biked back to grab one of the best ‘banh mi’s I’ve ever tried (which also became famous because of Anthony Bourdain). Banh mi is a Vietnamese style baguette which costs less than one dollar and will fill your stomach up. At least if you’re a small Asian like me.
When in town, you should definitely get something tailor made, since Hoi An is known for this. If you’ve always had a particular item of clothing in mind but never managed to find it in store, you can fulfil your dreams here! Walk amongst thousands of fabrics, talk to seamstresses and go with the one that you feel understands your vision best. It usually only takes about 1-2 days before the garment is ready.
It’s during night time when the town really comes to life. Imagine hundreds of lanterns light up while walking around some of the most photogenic places you’ve ever seen, look into some of the most charming souvenir shops and finally sit down in a cute little café, chatting away with your friends. I think one of the reasons why Hoi An is such a beloved place is because of how calm and relaxing it is. Yes, it’s also incredibly beautiful, but for being such a small place, there’s a ton of things to do here. One of my favorite activities were just to walk around because you’ll discover something new in every corner. Make sure that you put Hoi An in your itinerary, you won’t regret it!