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Ngapali Beach is a rarely visited sliver of Myanmar, isolated from the rest of the country by a mountain range. Located on the western shore, it’s a long, palm-fringed stretch of sand dotted with lavish hotels and working fishing villages. Here, the aquamarine waters of the Bay of Bengal are calm and crystal clear.

Pronounced ‘Napally’, the area’s unusual name has no meaning in Burmese, but is said to be the legacy of a homesick Italian visitor. According to the story, the pristine beaches and blue-green waters reminded him of his beloved Naples, and the name stuck.

The sandy shores of Ngapali, Burma (Myanmar)Like the apocryphal Neapolitan, most visitors come for the long stretch of white sand and the warm, clear waters. Because Ngapali is hard to reach, it’s still largely undeveloped for long expanses, especially in the middle of the 24 km (15 mile) beach. You can stroll along the soft sand and only see a few other people, and perhaps some boats in the distance.

You’ll also find restaurants nestled along the tree line, with menus that spotlight the freshness and diversity of the daily catch. Some feature authentic Burmese preparations, while others provide more international-style fare. The western-facing coastline means that evening meals are often accompanied by glorious sunsets over the water.

Hotels all offer water sports, and you can indulge in sea kayaking, snorkeling or diving among the bright schools of fish. They can also arrange for you to tour the area by boat, with a stop off to swim at an isolated beach. Most hotels also have an immaculately groomed beachfront, as well as lush green grounds where you can enjoy some quiet time.

Beyond the hotel grounds, local culture is easy to find. Every night, fishermen head out in small boats to ply their trade just offshore. At low tide, you can see people in traditional dress strolling down the waterline collecting cockles. In the afternoons, the upper part of the beach, near the trees, is often covered in bamboo racks of fish.

You’ll also find circles of people on the sand playing chinlone. Part dance and part sport, this non-competitive game is a national pastime and involves a team passing a ball back and forth using elegant, acrobatic movements.

The nearby town of Thandwe is just a short drive inland, set in a quiet valley, and a visit here can make a change of pace. The one-time British garrison has been converted into the town’s central market, where you can peruse baskets filled with eels, racks of pottery and piles of fruit. Outside Thandwe, three golden stupas on hilltops offer good views over the town’s tin roofs.

Best time to visit Ngapali Beach

We suggest visiting Ngapali Beach between October and May. During these months, the sky is blue and the temperatures are warm. During the rainy season (June to September), most of the hotels shut down and flights to the region dwindle to a mere trickle, making visiting nearly impossible.

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Map of Ngapali Beach

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    Places near Ngapali Beach

    Accommodation choices for Ngapali Beach

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