Myanmar has a long coastline, stretching for 1,385 miles from the Naaf River on the Bangladesh border. Along with this coastline are many lovely spots developed as seaside resorts for Myanmar people as well as for foreign tourists.
One of the developed beaches is the Chaungtha Beach on the west of Myanmar near Pathein (Bassein). Actually, it is nearer to Yangon, than the well-known Ngapali Beach in Rakhine State. From Pathein it is only about 34 miles away. A road from Yangon to Pathein was stretching for 118 miles.
Local people have lived in Chaungtha town for years, and Pathein residents had gone there to bathe in the sea for decades. But it was only in 1991 that the road from Yangon to Pathein and Pathein to Chaungtha had been constructed, with many rivers of the Ayeyarwady Delta region bridged for the first time. This has enabled urbanites and foreign tourists from Yangon to go to Pathein in about five hours and to reach Chaungtha in about seven hours. Formerly, a boat trip of about 15 hours was necessary for travelers from Yangon to reach Pathein. For those who like to go on riverboats, there are now newer boats plying this route.
From Pathein to Chaungtha is only an hour drive. Ngawun River is crossed about six miles from Pathein by a bridge. Chaungtha road has been upgraded, and it goes across many streams amongst the foothills of the Rakhine Yomas for about 28 miles. Chaungtha is only four miles beyond the U-to river bridge.
Once Chaungtha is reached, there are peace and miles of silvery beaches fringed by coconut trees and other tropical vegetation. Like most beaches in Myanmar, it faces west giving lovely, picturesque scenes at sunset.
An outstanding feature at Chaungtha is the Kyauk-pahto Pagoda which has a Buddha image built by pious devotees on some rocks right on the beach. This is where the local villagers come to worship. Even the clear waters of the Indian Ocean lapping the pagoda’s base in silvery waves seem to be paying homage to this sacred shrine.
Chaungtha town nearby has local stores including souvenir shops selling shells and shell products. Locally made wares include mother-of-pearl and lacquer boxes and trays, shell necklaces, and big rock crayfish shells beautifully preserved and mounted in cane containers. There are also local restaurants where fresh Myanmar fruits and delicacies and some Chinese and Indian food can be enjoyed by the adventurous at very cheap prices. The seafood is especially fresh, cheap and delectable. You can enjoy several varieties of prawns and big lobsters, crabs, oysters, mussels and other shellfish, and many kinds of tasty marine fish. More exotic seafood like octopus flesh and shark’s fin are also available.
In the town is a small hospital. You can also visit the Pyilonechantha Pagoda in Chaungtha town, not far from the hospital.
Chaungtha beach also offers many opportunities for visiting some of the nearby outlying islands. Hpo Kala Island is only a seven minutes ride across the sea in a motorboat. It has an area of 2.5 sq miles with about 200 people mainly fishermen living there. A ten-minute walk across the 550-yard beach will bring you to Aung Mingala Mya Kyunnyo Pagoda, built on a small hill about 80 feet high. The Pagoda itself has a height of 25 feet. From the Pagoda hill, there are gorgeous views of other islands in the vicinity, especially Hnget-Taung Kyun (Bird Feather Island) and The Phyu Kyun (White Sand Island), as well as of Chaungtha beach with its picturesque hotel buildings and the Kyauk-pahto Pagoda on the main beach.
Another island a little farther away is The Phyu Kyun. It is about 7 furlongs away and can be reached in about 20 minutes by motorboat. This small island is only about 20 sq. yards in circumference at high tide, and about 30 sq. yards at low tide. Here too there is a small pagoda with three almond trees. This uninhabited island is the place to visit to collect lovely, multicolored seashells and for taking photographs with magnificent panoramic background scenes of the sea, the sky and the pearly white sands.
Facilities for windsurfing and riding motorbikes are available. Fibreshell rowing boats, motorboats, and speedboats can also be hired for riding the waves, or to go on fishing trips and for visiting the islands nearby. On the beach, Myanmar hle-yin (bullock carts), used for special occasions, are available for hire. Bicycles can be rented also to ride on the beach and to go to the nearby town and villages.
Chaungtha beach is fast becoming a popular seaside resort crowded with many visitors from Myanmar and abroad.