A Brief Story of Ngwe Saung
Ngwe Saung is a near endless stretch of whitish sand and bluish waters found on Burma’s Bay of Bengal coast just south of Chaung Tha. It’s a beach for serious beach lovers — that is, those who seek a beautiful beach and nothing more as there’s nothing much else to do.
The resorts located in Ngwe Saung are very spaced out, with certain areas having an almost deserted island feel. At the time of our visit in June 2013, many of the resorts were closed and undergoing major renovations and reconstruction of rooms that are sure to be pricier than those found in nearby Chaung Tha.
Take a long walk along the coast and you’re sure to run into the Kyauk Maumghnama Pagoda (‘brother and sister rocks’), twin pagodas set upon boulders located on an especially photogenic area of the beach. Locals riding archaic bullock carts and cows who seem to enjoy sunbathing as much as us are a few of the other sights to be seen along Ngwe Saung beach.
Accommodation options on Ngwe Saung range from a few flashpacker options to fancy resorts with swimming pools and private beach villas. It’s being developed as a beach for honeymooners and couples seeking a quiet romantic getaway.
Small restaurants serving traditional Burmese cuisine such as mohinga are scattered throughout Ngwe Saung, with a few offering seafood and Chinese cuisine with English menus located near the bus station. It’s a small town that’s especially sleepy during rainy season, so options are quite limited.
Having a few drinks in your resort’s restaurant is the only form of nightlife that exists, so don’t expect any beach parties or wild nights.
The Ngwe Saung twin pagodas are located towards the southern end of the beach – a good place to take some photos and enjoy a stroll along the beach. An elephant camp is located on the road to Pathein – trips cost 10,000 kyat per person. Our receptionist told us of a tour to a local fishermen’s village for 15,000 kyat – but was unable to elaborate on exactly what this involved. Tours can be booked in town or at your resort.
A good way to spend a few hours is to hire a bicycle and take a ride to town. It’ll give you a good chance to interact with the locals, rather than just being cooped up in your private resort.
Bring books, sunblock and your bathing suit – the beach is the main attraction.
Ngwe Saung is easily accessible by bus from Yangon or Pathein.
Ngwe Saung beach is very long and you’ll most likely need a moto-taxi or bicycle to go anywhere outside of your resort. The going rate for one-way rides anywhere in the vicinity is 1,000 kyat. The north end of town is home to the bus station, internet cafe and a few restaurants with menus advertised in English.
From there, a long road that runs parallel with the beach extends to the south, with the resorts located on the beach side and a few small restaurants, petrol stations and rudimentary convenience stores found across the street.
A rundown fishermen’s village is located on the northern part of the beach. You’ll likely see plenty of fishermen and their families casting large nets into the water. It’s a sight to be seen, and a much different atmosphere than that of your resort.
Like nearby Chaung Tha, Ngwe Saung is very underdeveloped. With an expected increase in tourism, the situation is changing rapidly. We’re told that Ngwe Saung will have electricity in the next year or two. For now, the resorts rely on power generators that are turned on in the evenings.
ATMs are nonexistent in Ngwe Saung so bring enough cash with you to last the duration of your trip. It’s good to have a good mix of dollars and kyat, since you’ll pay for your room in dollars and incidentals in kyat. Otherwise, the hotels will give you a poor exchange rate — it’s highway robbery.
WiFi is rare and was very slow at the one place we found offering it to the public. Decent connection speeds are currently only available at the expensive resorts, so plan according.