Even before nakedgiraffe went into her isolation camp I got on the bus to Mawlamyine, towards the south of Myanmar.
Along the way I noticed that, like many poor countries, Myanmar wastes a lot of money to add new useless religious monuments, for example, massive buddha statues. Most natural attractions are also covered in stupas, buddha statues and altars.
I arrived in Mawlamyine in the evening and immediately inquired about renting a motorbike for a week, because my plan was to use my 10 days of free time to scooter down south towards Myiek. Unfortunately, I quickly found out that, due to great demand for magnificent Myanmarese scooters in Thailand, I could only rent a vehicle for a day.
Thus my plan was adjusted: explore Mawlamyine surroundings by scooter in a day (12000 MMK per day) and take a minibus ride to Dawei the next morning (12000 MMK).
In Mawlamyine I stayed at The Old Moulmein hostel (11000 MMK per night for a hostel bed) which was recently opened by a very nice lady.
Scootering around Mawlamyine is fun – the roads are good and the area is interesting. I climbed the 500m of steps to the summit of Mount Zwegabin (4000 MMK ticket). On the way there I met a Myanmarese girl and learned to apply the traditional Myanmarese face paint.
I also visited Sadan cave (1000 MMK), which is a massive cave with colourful lights (and a buddha). Don’t forget the second, more glittery, cave which you can reach by following a path past the boats, leaning left. The locals can also take you on a tour of the lake by boat.
At 6:30, the next day, I left Mawlamyine on a 6h minibus journey to Dawei (with a stop in Ye).
Dawei bus stop is on the outskirts of town, so I had to take a bike taxi to my accommodation – I agreed 2000 MMK price upfront, which was important because the driver wanted to charge more once he figured out my hotel was not in the city center where most people live.
I stayed at Relax Guest House for 7 nights: 4 in a superior double room and 3 in a windowless single room with a shared bathroom – the stay cost me 100 EUR in total. Nice guys working there, by the way.
I spent a week in Dawei exploring the surrounding area on a scooter (which is a must) – the main attraction, of course, are the beaches.
Tip: Tavoy Kitchen in Dawei has amazing coconut chicken pasta.
The manager of the guesthouse introduced me to another guest, Celine, who wanted to see the area around Dawei but was not comfortable driving her own scooter, so we went to evaluate the beaches together. The beaches are empty except for a few locals, so if you are looking for crowded beaches – look elsewhere.
- Maungmagan Beach – the closest beach to Dawei; long beach full of beach restaurants.
- San Maria Bay – long and empty beach (some debris on the beach) with one beach shack selling drinks and food. Water was not crystal clear and very shallow.
- Pa Nyit beach – quite coarse yellow sand, but gets deep very quickly. A few fishermen’s boats bobbing on very clear water.
- Teyzit beach – very soft white sand, especially in the water. Rocks and hills adding scenery. Some children going home from school found us extremely interesting and spent 10 min standing in front of us and looking.
- Grandfather beach is still the best – 5 beach shacks, few people, soft white sand and clear water. Great atmosphere. The only problem is that it is ~60 km away.
I booked a day trip to see the islands just off the coast (60000 MMK) – same islands as the islands of Thailand.
I was woken up by the guesthouse manager knocking on my door because snorkelling tour pickup had come. I was surprised because I expected it the next day. I may have mixed up the days of the week…
I went on a boat trip to Moscos Islands (1.5h away) with a family of locals – they are trying to start a tour guide business.
Snorkelling was nice – many fish. :O The beaches on the uninhabited island of Auk Bok were great – clear water, soft sand, no people. I even found a beach which reminded me of a lake – no sound from the waves. Perfect.
Myitta lies around 60 km towards border with Thailand along a winding paved road through the hills – a great experience.
The road back
The overnight bus from Dawei to Yangon (23500 MMK) was amazing – great service, wide reclining seats, food. Interesting dreams.