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Mergui Archipelago

The Mergui Archipelago is one of the last untouched and unspoilt tropical destinations left on earth. Eight-hundred islands are scattered in the Andaman Sea off the western shore of Burma’s remote south, just across from the Thai border, and with only a few dozen visitors to the entire area each month the region is virtually unknown to the outside world.

The group of islands, with powder white beaches, swaying palm trees and dense jungle, are near deserted, save for a few fishermen in dugout canoes and the elusive Moken sea gypsies – a semi-nomadic tribe living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle heavily based on the sea. The lack of human interference has left the islands with a full range of animal life, no longer found undisturbed on the Asian mainland. Azure waters are swimming with colourful reef fish and spotted corals, and above water you can see eagles circling, gibbons screeching and monitor lizards eyeing you from the thickets.

Compared with the rest of Burma this area does not have a solid tourism infrastructure and there are no luxury resorts in this region (in fact, the archipelago only opened to foreigners as recently as the late 1990s having been off-limits since the end of World War II), so the best way to experience these beautiful islands is by luxury yacht, and the area lends itself perfectly to sailing. Burma Boating have a fleet of super sexy sailing yachts which offer the utmost in comfort and service, ideal for private or shared charter. With specialist and charming crew, expert chefs and knowledgeable captains, you can be sure that all your needs are catered for every sailing. You can sail for days on end on the crystal-clear water, mooring at any number of caves and beautiful beaches, which are the highlights of any Mergui cruise. Along with the rest of Myanmar, the archipelago is a blossoming destination that's ripe with culture, and makes for the perfect end to any trip to Burma or Southeast Asia.

The main sea port for sailing trips into the archipelago is Kawthaung, which is easily accessible with regular flights from Yangon. The town itself is nothing special, with very few hotel and restaurant options, and even less tourist attractions. It is a backpacker destination and we would not advise an overnight stay here unless completely unavoidable. Alternatively, Kawthaung is a stone’s throw from Ranong in Thailand, which is a four- to five- hour drive from Phuket airport.

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I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.
Bill Bryson