Every morning at around 8.45am a monk walks along the beach holding a fan to shield him from the sun. A few minutes later two novice monks follow in his wake, all collecting their alms from the beach traders and passers by. Such is daily life in Ngpali, one of the most relaxed and nicest beach resort I’ve been to.
Beautiful white sand sweeps around the blue water of the Bay of Bengal. Palm trees sway in the breeze which keeps you perfectly cool despite the constant sunshine. And there’s a string of fabulous hotels with low rise villas and amazing views.
And yet Ngpali is still a simple place where fisherman leave their small villages every morning to catch the barracuda and shellfish that is served up at the many local restaurants, run by lovely friendly people who say “I just want to do the best for my customers”.
That quote was from Tony, owner of the Family restaurant which was our favourite of those we visited, though Silver Star and Enjoy were good too. As was Jone’s bakery for a pizza one lunchtime. The restaurants were a short walk from the Ngpali Bay Villas and Spa where we stayed. It’s a really gorgeous place with beautifully kept grounds that house only 32 villas and an approach customer service that couldn’t be faulted.
It was so good it would have been easy to stay within the hotel the whole five days we were there. The sunbeds on the beach were numbered to match your villas, so no scrabbling for them or putting down towels before breakfast. Plus you had a red flag to stick in the sand when you needed food, drink or the heavy wooden sunbeds to be moved in or out of the sun by one of the beach boys.
The restaurant, Tamarind, is lovely too so as well as breakfast and one dinner we ate lunch there pretty much every day to enjoy the sea view and because it was so easy being very close to our spot on the beach.
Most evenings though we ventured out to spend our money in the local restaurants mentioned earlier which wasn’t easy as everything was so cheap. I think our bills varied between K30,000-40,000/ £18-24 for the two of us and half of that was for a bottle of wine which was more costly than beer or cocktails.
We’d discovered early on in our trip to Myanmar that the country has a couple of vineyards that were set up by European winemakers and we became quite partial to the Aythaya rose. The first time we visited Family we didn’t see any rose on the menu so asked if they had it and Tony immediately sent one of the staff off on a motorbike to get some. Little wonder we went back there.
Back on the beach, life is pretty quiet. The women who deftly carry baskets of pineapples on their heads only stop to prepare and serve it for you if you call them over. Boats only come in to shore when someone has hired one for a trip around the bay. And the people offering massages and man stalls with souvenirs for sale aren’t even a little bit pushy.
If that’s not enough to keep you on the beach, there are a few other things to do and see in Ngpali. Swimming, snorkelling, a white stupa on a hill with a view and nearby town Thandwe which has a market and three golden stupas on hilltops around it. But if like me this is the final stop on a busy tour around Myanmar, you’ll most likely be more interested in hanging up your travel clothes and enjoying the blissful rest and relaxation Ngpali beach offers.
And soon you won’t even need to have visited Myanmar to do that as there are plans for Thwande’s tiny but efficient airport to get direct flights from Bangkok. That’s definitely put it on my list for a return visit after touring around another country in South East Asia in the future, and there are not many places I say that about.
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