Kaw Thaung, Mergui archipelago
This southernmost, waterside town is culturally diverse and acts as the perfect gateway to Myanmar’s most impressive and adventure laden collection of islands. Mergui archipelago. Known in colonial times as ‘Victoria Point’, today Kaw Thaung is an important trading point sharing a border crossing with Thailand.
Nestled in the rolling hills that surround the archipelago and the site of many wonderful trekking opportunities, Kaw Thaung is home to multiple pagodas. Pyi Daw Aye pagoda being the most notable, although there are others dotted over the hills to explore at your leisure. Kaw Thaung is stunningly enveloped by the striking mergui national reserve and although you do need special permission to enter, you’re allowed to venture 24 miles outside of the city allowing the perfect opportunity for some scenic hiking and trekking. If you don’t have time to visit to Mergui archipelago then be sure not to miss the opportunity to visit the much more accessible Palane Tone Tone Island where you can enjoy a tranquil, waterside atmosphere, adventurous watersports and tempting locally run seafood restaurants.
The charming coastal road leisurely meanders around the regions rolling hills; you can follow it to cool down in the impressive Maliwun waterfall. The picturesque road also offers wonderful vantage points to enjoy one of Myanmar’s epic sunsets.
Close to the centre and with plenty of market stalls to refresh or buy souvenirs, the glittering Pyi Daw Aye pagoda makes for the ideal morning hike. You can spot its golden stupa, sparkling on the hills from down in town which makes it exceptionally easy to get to. With impressive vistas over the town and the Thai mountains, Pyi Daw pagoda is beautiful any time of day, but in the evening you can enjoy one of the regions favourite sunset spots.
Palane Tone Tone island
Just 5 kilometres north of Kaw Thaung you’ll find the ideal place to unwind and enjoy the wonderful nature to be found in this stunning region. Easily accessed by a wooden bridge and home to a thriving fishing village, Palane Tone Tone boasts the perfect place to explore your inner adventure seeker. With a gorgeous combination of lush mangroves and a long, sandy beaches, don’t miss the wonderful snorkeling and hiking opportunities on offer here.
The perfect stop if you can’t fit Mergui archipelago into your itinerary, the island is rustic and authentic and serves as the ideal ‘off the beaten track’ destination for adventure seekers, nature enthusiasts and culture junkies alike.
40 kilometres north of town is home to one of Kaw Thaung’s most visited attractions. Maliwun waterfall, also known as ‘The Jasmine Falls’ is extremely popular amongst both visitors and locals around January when fall flows heavy and fast. The area has several pools that can be explored, some with drops and for the more adventurous, a water park with slides and kayaks available to rent.
By far the most common trip to take from Kaw Thaung is the one to the incredible, little known Mergui archipelago. Either one day trips or multi day trips are possible. Off the southern coast of Myanmar, this extraordinary collection of 800 islands is largely untouched by visitors or tourism. The islands vary in size from small and uninhabited to slightly larger and littered in palm trees. Some are even home to the Moken people, one of Myanmar’s most unique ethnic groups. The archipelago offers endless opportunities for snorkeling, diving, wildlife spotting and general exploring. The coral is alive and colourful and the waters are home to a fascinating range of sea life from sharks through to manta rays, to name just a few.
As well as endless water based activities, the islands are bursting with mystical tropical forests for hiking, endless empty beaches to stroll, fishing and kayaking through flourishing mangroves. Boasting all kinds of wildlife from gibbons to deer, stunning flora and fauna and rare bird species, the Mergui archipelago is truly a nature lovers dream.
Only opened up to tourism in 1997, it’s easy to see why some call it Myanmar’s best kept secret. With much of the area barely explored, now is the time to visit this magical gem.
Food and Drink
Kaw Thaung boasts a delicious eclectic fusion of Burmese, Thai and Chinese eateries. There are plenty of restaurants, teahouses and food stalls to keep you going, including a handful of western style bakeries.
Naturally, the food served up in Mergui archipelago is based around fresh fish caught directly from the sea. If you choose to venture into the Moken villages, here you are able to join the friendly locals at meal times indulging in cuttlefish and other traditional Moken food.