This town is expanding fast and you can now find many beach side resorts. Step from your bungalow straight onto the beach. Although there are not so many foreign visitors, the number is growing and hotels are upgrading their facilities to accommodate them.
The beach itself is a long expanse of golden sand. Each hotel tries to clean its own beach side daily. Many vendors work the beach, but are not pushy. Some carry fresh live seafood and will barbecue it for you upon request. Inflatable rings and dinghies are available for hire.
Getting in via road, mostly by bus, is the only option.
- Yangon – Buses leave around dawn and take 5-6 hours to reach Chaung Tha. The last 2 hours or so of the trip are on very bad roads, making the trip longer. The buses make 2-3 scheduled stops along the way at roadside cafes. The journey costs around 8,000 kyat. Travellers departing from Yangon should set aside an extra hour for travel between the city centre and the outskirts bus station, Dagon Ayar Highway Bus Station. Expect to pay between 300 and 5,000 kyat from the centre to the bus station, depending on the kind of transportation, i.e. local bus or taxi.
- Pathein – Another option is to take a transport to Pathein from Yangon (bus, 3-4 hours, 3,700-8,000 kyat), or any other city in Myanmar, e.g. Pyay or Ngapali. From Pathein you can take a local bus or shared pickup/van for another 2 hours. Try the city bus station near Shwemokehtaw Pagoda or hail for passing by vehicles at the northern end of Min Gyi Road, which leads to Chaung Tha (and Ngwe Saung). The last regular transport leaves at 16:00, after which it is still possible to negotiate a transfer from Pathein to the beach via (pickup) taxi for around 30,000-50,000 kyat. If you do not have a lot of luggage, it is also possible to do this trip via a motorbike for around 10,000 kyat per person (2 hours). Be mindful of the bad roads for this portion of the trip, i.e., this option is not for those looking for comfort.
- Ngwe Saung via coast and motorbike taxi for about 8-13,000 kyat one-way. This includes at least two river crossings. Reported durations vary widely between 45 min and 4 hr, so clarify beforehand.
You can even negotiate with any Yangon taxi driver to take you by taxi to Chaung Tha (some have air conditioning), so if you are travelling in a group of 3 or 4 and you split the cost it can be worthwhile. However, remember that the taxi will be returning empty, so you have to consider this when agreeing the price. If your trip is for just a few days, it may be better to negotiate with the driver to stay in town (he'll probably sleep in his taxi) and then he will be able to bring you back also. Current rate is around $120-150 one way.
The main strip is located directly by the beach, meaning all eating and relaxing needs can be satisfied on foot.
The motorbike taxis wait outside most of the hotels and are plentiful. Expect to pay 500 kyat per trip, although nothing is very far. Sidecar (a bicycle with a sidecar of two back-to-back seats) are also available at a more leisurely pace for the same fare.
Northern beaches are considered cleaner. On the other hand, depending on circumstances, beaches in the centre may be cleaner; after a storm, northern beaches may have black stuff washed up on them.
- 1 Pokala Island (Just southwest of the Chaung Tha coast). Pokala Island is particularly beautiful, and just a short motorcycle-boat trip away from the main beach street. This also requires a short boat ride (1,000 kyat return). Inhabitants of the island are local fishermen, living together with their families in the houses on the island. A walk around the island reveals remote beaches as well as sharp & rocky coastline. 2,000 kyat.
- 2 White sand beaches (about 2 km further north from Chaung Tha, go by the Golden Bay Resort along the beach). Some say they are cleaner. Walking there, go past the small pagoda standing on a small hill in the water, there is another pagoda further up, with three large rocks in the water. You can get there by motorcycle, but the road is muddy with many ruts. Likewise, the beach route is hard to drive on, if you are not that experienced with motorbikes, and driving on sand, you may need a local driver if you do not want to go by your own bike. You will find a great place to relax within coconut trees and even a "bar" with cold drinks.
- 3 Ngwe Saung. A motorbike ride to Ngwe Saung Beach is highly recommended (about 1.5-2 hr). It follows the beach and includes 3 river crossings by a small boat. This is a very scenic trip. Can be arranged with a travel agency or your hotel for 13,000-15,000 kyat, or privately for around 8-13,000 kyat. Even though you might want to consider Ngwe Saung to be the next stop instead of a day trip.
Interact with the locals; it inevitably leads to the best adventures.
Drive up north for 5 to 10 km by bicycle or motorbike to discover remote beaches away from the busy village.
Numerous shops and street stalls exist along the beach road. Here you can buy souvenirs, local snack foods and beach clothing. Go into the village for the local's market of fish, vegetables and provisions.
Numerous restaurants line the main beach road, serving seafood in addition to the typical Myanmar cuisine. Most serve mango or delicious traditional desserts as a complimentary after-dinner treat.
Try to avoid eating at the larger hotel restaurants, as locals complain that they stifle competition by buying up all the freshly caught seafood and locally grown potatoes from the town's markets.
- Pasta Fresca, ☏ . Italian-owned family restaurant. Great homemade Italian specialties served in a pleasant garden setting. The Italian owner cooks everything herself. Daily menu is listed on the board in front. Italian wine available.
- William Restaurant and Guest House, ☏ . Bar, restaurant and guesthouse. A pleasant bar and restaurant with very average local and Western food run by an English speaking local gentleman named William and his wife and family, who will likely try to sell you on some tours.
Because there is no electricity during the day, it's difficult to buy cold drinks (no electricity = no refrigerator) unless you find a bar with either its own generator or a large ice box.
- Top Chaung Tha Bar (Next to the bus terminus). Try this bar. It has draft beer from a keg pumped thru an icebox. Ice cold beer 600 kyat.
There seems to be a general electricity outage during the day, so do not blame it on the hotels.
- 1 Nan Htike Thu Guest House, No 2, Baw Ga St (At the southwestern end of town), ☏ .
- 2 Sea & See (Up the road from Shwe Hin Tha Hotel, just past the well-marked Hotel Ace). Shared bath, mosquito net over bed, no beach access, may be open during low season. US$6-8, no breakfast.
- 3 Hill Garden Hotel, 1 Shwe Thaungyan Rd (Up the road from Shwe Hin Tha Hotel), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 9 beautiful bungalows in a garden setting, each with one large bed or two single beds. About 1.5 km from the main road, but worth it for the pleasant setting. Clean, modern and spacious. Great breakfast and service. You can eat breakfast on your bungalow deck. Bike rentals are available for 3,000 kyat. Motorbike rides down to the main road in Chaung Tha can be arranged for 500 kyat. Free WiFi is available, in theory at least, at the sister Shwe Hin Tha Hotel down the street. US$20-60.
- 4 Belle Resort (350 m past the turn at the entrance of the town), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Highly recommended resort, perfectly located. Various room types with sea and garden view. Also try firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com . 65-115,000 kyat.
- 5 Hotel ACE (Just past Shwe Hin Tha Hotel from the turn at the entrance of the village), ☏ , , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Next to the city center. From US$70.
- 6 UK Bed and Breakfast, No 2, Chaungtha Road,Chaung Tha beach near entrance of village (up the road from Shwe Hin Tha Hotel, just past the well-marked Hotel Ace), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Fan,Breakfast,wifi,Shared bath, mosquito net over bed, no beach access, may be open during low season. $10-15, breakfast included.
- Ngwe Saung – Famous for its long and beautiful beach. Can be reached via Pathein by bus, 7-8,000 kyat, 3-4 h. Or you can hire a direct motorbike taxi along the coast for 8-13,000 kyat, which is much more exciting, picturesque and probably better for your stomach. The latter includes at least two river crossings. Reported durations vary widely between 45 min and 4 h, so clarify beforehand.
- Pathein – Famous for its handcrafted umbrellas. Pickups and buses take about 2 hr and cost about 4,000 kyat from Chaung Tha. Private taxis are around 30-50,000 kyat. You will most likely be dropped of at the city bus station in the center. Take a motorbike taxi to the highway bus station or start from the latter, depending on where you want to go. Possible onward destinations from Pathein include Ngapali and Pyay, but also Yangon.
- Yangon – Return buses leave Chaung Tha at 05:30, 06:00 and 10:00 drop off at the Dagon Ayar Highway Bus Station outside of Yangon. There is also an Asia Dragon air conditioned bus that leaves Chaung Tha at 09:30 and drops off in the centre of Yangon near the train station, for 8,000 kyat.