This 12-day excursion starts surrounded by the forest in Myanmar and ends in the mountains of Thailand. In Myanmar, you'll learn about local craft and storytelling at the Tanintharyi Museum on local craft, then visit villages and plantations making rubber, betel nut, and dried fish. You'll explore the Mergui Archipelago, eventually making your way to the Ranong pier in Thailand. While in Thailand, you'll visit the Seaside Retreat Elephant Camp and the Similan Islands.

Highlights

  • See the infamous Death Railway that connects Myanmar to Thailand
  • Visit the Tanintharyi Museum that displays local handicraft by Myanmar people
  • Learn about rubber, betel nut, and dried fish production in Myanmar
  • Snorkel on St. Matthews Island to experience diverse sea life up close
  • Play with elephants at the Seaside Retreat Elephant Camp in Khao Lak, Thailand

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Yangon to Mawlamyine Mawlamyine
Day 2 Mawlamyine to Ye Ye
Day 3 Ye to Dawei Dawei
Day 4 Beaches of Dawei  Dawei
Day 5 Dawei Peninsula Dawei
Day 6 Dawei to Kawthaung Kawthaung
Day 7 Kawthaung Kawthaung
Day 8 Kawthaung to Thailand (Ranong and Khao Lak) Kawthaung
Day 9 Khao Lak - Seaside Retreat Elephant Camp Khao Lak
Day 10 Similan Islands Khao Lak
Day 11 Khao Lak - Free Day Khao Lak
Day 12 Khao Lak to Phuket  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Yangon to Mawlamyine

Sunset views from Kyaikthanlan Pagoda in Mawlamyine

You will leave Yangon in the morning and journey to Mawlamyine, the capital of the Mon state.

When you arrive in Mawlamyine, you will visit the Queen Sein Don Monastery to see detailed wood carvings on the wall. Experience sunset on top of a hill that exposes panoramic views of the Thanlwin River and its islands.

After check-in at the hotel, you can stop at the night market and stroll around the stalls packed with fresh fruits and vegetables. Then you'll head back into town for dinner at your leisure.

Day 2: Mawlamyine to Ye

The Death Railway above River Kwai that connects Myanmar to Thailand

After breakfast, you will drive south of Mawlamyine to Thanbyuzayat, the starting point of the infamous Death Railway that connects Myanmar to Thailand. Constructed by the Japanese during WWII, it officially opened on October 25, 1943. More than 20,000 prisoners of war died during the construction period. You will continue your journey to Ye, taking a break at Banana Mountain to overlook the whole Ye valley and see the nine-level tower.

Refresh at the hotel before exploring the small town of Ye. If time allows, you will visit the local gold market (closed on Sundays). Gold used to be the currency in Myanmar and keeps its value today. Many people prefer to invest in gold over keeping money in the bank.

Enjoy the sunset by the river, then head to dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 3: Ye to Dawei

Locals doing business at the market in Dawei

You will start your journey across the mountain range that divides Mon State from the Tanintharyi Region, stopping for the occasional stretch and views of the valley.

You will reach Dawei around lunchtime and check into your hotel. Dawei was one of the first cities where the English settled after the First Anglo-Burmese War in 1826. As a result, the town has a long-lasting history and picturesque buildings from colonial times.

The Tanintharyi Museum displays local handicrafts of the Southern Myanmar people. A small section spotlights the Moken people, who were also known as sea gypsies, to explain their hard daily life. You will stroll along Dawei’s busy riverfront and take a look at the snacks from the local night market.

Day 4: Beaches of Dawei 

Fishing boats off of Tizit Beach in Dawei 

Today, you will explore Dawei's city center and the beaches on the outskirts of the small town. You will start with a visit to the Strand Road market as well as a family-owned cashew nut business.

You will then journey outside of Dawei to San Maria Beach along the plantations producing rubber, the main farming product in the area, and witness the production of white rubber sheets. The other main businesses around Dawei sell betel nut and dried fish, which you will experience first-hand when traveling across the many fishermen villages.

This afternoon, take some time to enjoy the white sand and landscapes of San Maria Beach and Maungmagan Beach. Do not be surprised if you're the only one strolling around as mass tourism is still far away. You'll have picnic lunch on the beach nearby Myawyik Pagoda, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge.

After watching the sunset, return to your hotel in Dawei for the evening. 

Day 5: Dawei Peninsula

The white sand off the shores of Horse Shoe Bay 

Today, you will journey further south to explore some remote beaches. Start the day by driving past rice fields to reach a typical fishing village, where you'll become immersed in the morning bustle.

From here, you will take a 30-minute stroll up the mountain to a pagoda overlooking the peninsula, with views of Dawei River and Grandfathers Beach. After stopping at a local restaurant for lunch, you will make your way through other villages until you reach Grandfather Beach and continue your journey on a motorbike as the road is too narrow and bumpy for cars.

As an alternative to hiking and motorbike taxi, you can visit Shin Maw Pagoda, which is right at the bottom of the peninsula and offers a surrounding view of the open ocean. Shin Maw Pagoda is one of the famous nine Shin Pagodas, and the locals say if you manage to pray at all nine pagodas in one day, it will bring you prosperity.

On the way back to Dawei, you will take a break at the nearby Horse Shoe Bay, a 1.8-mile (3 km) stretch of white sand and turquoise water.

Day 6: Dawei to Kawthaung

A group of monk sculptures in the city center of Kawthaung

Early on in the day, you will have time to do souvenir shopping or visit the local market.

Head to the airport to catch a domestic flight to Kawthaung, where you will be welcomed by your driver upon arrival and accompanied to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to discover the colorful town of Kawthaung with your guide.

Day 7: Kawthaung

An bird's-eye view of Cocks Comb Island

You'll drive to Kawthaung jetty first thing in the morning to start your exploration of the Mergui Archipelago.

You will join other travelers for a cruise around the hundreds of islands that form the archipelago. Your first stop will be Cocks Comb Island that is located just off the coast of Kawthaung. The island is a limestone atoll with a lagoon-shaped like a heart, which you enter alongside your guide by swimming through a natural tunnel. You will continue to Paradise Beach to explore the diversity of hard and soft coral with your snorkeling equipment.

You will also stop at Dunkin Island and Tafook Island before enjoying a buffet lunch on the beach of Paradise Island. Feel free to take a stroll along the beach and listen to the sound of the ocean and jungle. In the afternoon, you will reach St. Matthews Island, better known under its Burmese name Zar Det Gyi Kyun. This island is a great snorkeling location to see turtles, clownfish, sea anemones, giant clams, and rock lobster (crayfish).

You will return to Kawthaung jetty in the afternoon and drive back to your hotel in Kawthaung for some rest, then spend the rest of the day at your leisure. 

Day 8: Kawthaung to Thailand (Ranong and Khao Lak)

The port in Ranong, Thailand

After breakfast, you will drive to Kawthaung jetty and journey to Ranong in Thailand. Due to the regions of Southern Myanmar being undeveloped and limited to tourists, this tour might change in itinerary depending on road conditions, domestic flight timing, weather conditions, and availability of rooms.

Upon arrival at the pier of Ranong, you will transfer to your hotel in Khao Lak. After check-in, enjoy free time at your
leisure.

Day 9: Khao Lak - Seaside Retreat Elephant Camp

A group of adult elephants in a sanctuary in Thailand

After a morning trip through Khao Lak province, you will head to the Seaside Retreat Elephant Camp. The camp is committed to ensuring an authentically shared experience between you and the elephants while forbidding riding on ethical grounds. After a briefing on the elephants, you'll be ready to feed them before they enjoy a refreshing bath, during which you can care for and play with them.

After your time with the elephants, you will visit a conservation project that aims is to protect thousands of baby turtles in the Andaman Sea as they hatch. After, you will enjoy a Thai buffet lunch.

In the afternoon, you will depart for a bamboo raft trip on the river through the jungle. You'll eventually head back to your hotel in Khao Lak for the rest of the evening.

Duration of tour: half the day

Day 10: Similan Islands

Views of boats wading in the water surroundg one of the Similan Islands

You'll meet with your guide bright and early to reach the Similan Islands before the crowds get there. These islands emerge from the azure blue sea in the form of large granite boulder foundations, topped with lush green vegetation, and skirted by white sand beaches. You'll have a full-day tour that involves swimming through the clear waters above the coral reefs to see marine life and laying the white sandy beaches surrounded tropical turquoise waters.

Day 11: Khao Lak - Free Day

The colorful monastery of Wat Lak Kaen in Khao Lak

You'll have breakfast at your hotel and have the rest of the day to explore Khao Lak at your leisure. 

Day 12: Khao Lak to Phuket

The edge of the runway in Phuket Airport

After breakfast, check out of your hotel and meet with your guide and driver. You'll head to Phuket Airport for your outbound flight. 

Map

Map of Explore Southern Myanmar and the Beaches of Thailand - 12 Days
Map of Explore Southern Myanmar and the Beaches of Thailand - 12 Days