Wanderlist Discover: Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar
Mergui Archipelago is a magical holiday destination, with white sandy beaches surrounded by vibrant turquoise-blue waters, that offer visitors some of the best diving sites in the region. But, these islands have more than just beaches to keep you occupied. The interiors of these islands hide an untouched world of dense forests, that are home to various flora and fauna native to these islands. In addition to different bird and animal life, this archipelago are also home to the Moken tribe, a tribe of sea-gypsies, who have inhabited these islands for centuries, and still live harmoniously with nature following the same lifestyle and traditions observed by their ancestors years ago. This region was relatively off the tourist map till the start of the century, and is still one of the most unexplored tourist destinations in the world. A holiday in these parts would be like going off-grid and losing touch with “civilization” for some time. But the Mergui Archipelago offers such fascinating topography, amazing reefs and spectacular underwater views, that you won’t regret taking a break from the humdrum of your routine life even for a minute.
A COUPLE OF ACTIVITIES YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS
Lampi Island National Park : Probably the most popular spot in the archipelago, Lampi Island is the only protected spot in the island cluster. This island is home to more than a thousand species of marine and land animals and plants, which include species that are found only on this island. Do take a tour of the islands mangroves in a kayak to experience the wonders of the dense forests and the river system from a very close distance.
Diving & Snorkelling : The Mergui Archipelago is a treasure trove of underwater delights for scuba divers and fishing enthusiasts. Diving spots like the Burma Banks offer experienced divers an opportunity to view the dramatic continental shelf drop off into the ocean. Shark and manta-ray sightings are also quite common in spots like the Black Rock. Explore the diverse blue coral reefs under the sea. Fishing enthusiasts can also catch various types of fish including barracuda, snapper, marlin and may others in the waters off the islands.
Visit the Sea Gypsies : The original inhabitants of the Megui, the Moken, lead a life that has not changed much from the lives lead by their ancestors many decades ago. Take a guided tour to their village, and learn about their way of life, how they live off the ocean, build boats the old way, and live a life in complete harmony with nature.
Best Time To Go: mid-november to mid-april
The best time to visit this archipelago is between mid-November to mid-April, when the weather is good. The best time for snorkelling and diving is generally March and April, when the waters are clear and relatively calm.
Where in the world:
The 800 odd islands that form the Mergui Archipelago lie just off the eastern coast of Myanmar.
Fun Fact: Since tourism is still a very under developed activity in the region, there are only a couple of resorts on the islands for people to stay. The only other option is to stay on a cruise boat that travels along the shores of the different islands. There are also no restaurants on the islands, except the ones in the two resorts.
Language : Burmese
Currency : Burmese Kyat, but US Dollars are also accepted in some places.
How to Get Around : All travel around the islands and to the islands from the mainland is by pre-arranged boats and ferries.
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