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Gallery: A Breathtaking Trip Through the Mergui Archipelago by Photographer David Van Driessche

Bangkok-based photographer David Van Driessche recently visited the Mergui Archipelago and came back with these magical images of his trip to Myanmar's forgotten island paradise. Click the images to enlarge. 

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David (Dennis) Van Driessche hails from Belgium, where he combined his passion for tourism, photography and film by studying those subjects at university and started his career in the tourism industry in the early 90s. He has combined travel with photography ever since and has photographed destinations and hotels all over the world. In 2003, he made Bangkok his home, where he started a travel agency focusing on photography tours. He has photographed leading hotels and boutique resorts in Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, China and across Europe. www.davidvandriessche.com

See the Beautiful Photos our Guests Shared on Instagram

sailing the myeik archipelago ⛵ #myanmar #burmaboating

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Cruising the #Mergui Archipelago

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Burmese fishing village #somewhereinburma #sailingaroundburma #myanmar #scame #sailing #charters #explore #sunset

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Heading into the sunset #sailingaroundasia #scame #surf #sail #discover #thailand #indonesia #myanmar #sailing pic @joshsymon

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@teiki_ballian checking the sail trim. Somewhere in the Andaman sea #sailingaroundasia #scame #andaman #thailand #myanmar #sangermani

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Never lost but always found #somewhere #sailingaroundasia #scame #sailing #surfing #sangermani #myanmar #indonesia #thailand

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Discovering remote Burma

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Take me back here please. #burmaboating

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Smell the sea and feel the sky Let your soul and spirit fly Into the mystic. - VM #burmaboating

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"Sailing Yoga" at sunrise on the Meta IV #burmaboating

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Sailing the Mergui Islands feels like this. #burmaboating

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#nofilter #Myanmar #sailing #burma #burmaboating #boat #sundown #sea #beach #don'twannaleave #holidays #missitalready #sunset #beautiful #islands

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Cat Vinton: The Life of the Moken "Sea Gypsies"

British photographer Cat Vinton spent weeks on a kabang boat, documenting the life of a Moken family on the Andaman Sea. Here she talks about this fascinating project and shows us some of her amazing photos. 

 Tat wielding his spear from the bow of his kabang

Tat wielding his spear from the bow of his kabang

In 2009 I lived with a remote, self-sufficient nomadic people whose warmth and openness allowed me to capture a fast-disappearing way of life. Equipped with sufficient Moken to communicate, I lived with Tat and Sabai, on their Kabang with their three young boys for several weeks. I was witness to some of the last years of nomadic Moken existence, a sustainable way of life that is in complete harmony with the rhythm of the sea. 

The Surin Islands, to the south of the Mergui Archipelago in the Andaman Sea are home to the last, elusive Moken, who have lived as hunter-gatherers among these isolated Islands for centuries. They’re born to live - on single-log sailboats known as kabang - and die at sea. The ocean is their home and goes beyond a means of transportation or a food bank. 

  Cafwai playing in the turquoise waters

Cafwai playing in the turquoise waters

  Tat and the boys

Tat and the boys

The Moken can hold their breath underwater and free dive deeper than almost any other people on earth; they learn to swim before they walk; they have no notion or measure of time; they don’t know their own age; they have no concept of worry, and no word for want nor goodbye. 

 Tat burning the hull of his kabang to waterproof the boat

Tat burning the hull of his kabang to waterproof the boat

Tat could read the water, and wielding his spear from the bow of his kabang he rarely missed a beat. He bequeathed life skills to his sons, drafting illustrations in the sand, teaching them to dive for fish, to sail and make a roof with the rainforest plants for their kabang. The turquoise water and pristine beaches were the playground for the three young boys growing up as nomadic Moken, as generations had before. Sabai gathered shellfish from the rocks, sea cucumbers from the bed, dug for lobsters and sandworms and trepanned for wild yams in the ‘fridges’ of the rainforest. At night, the singsong of Moken voices would echo across the moonlit sea. They were truly content here on their Kabang, the life they knew. 

  Most Moken children can swim before they learn how to walk

Most Moken children can swim before they learn how to walk

The Moken people have always tried to hide from outsiders, disappearing from view if any stranger came near. Today, the Moken have no place to hide: over the past few years it has became more difficult for the dwindling numbers of nomadic Moken still clinging to their wandering way of life. Mass fishing and aggressive assimilation policies have firmly pointed them towards land, rendering them stateless. The flotillas are no more as authorities have compromised their freedom, culture and natural disposition, replacing it with dependency and isolation. Tat and Sabai held out the longest, as the very last of the sea nomads. 

  Cooking the family dinner

Cooking the family dinner

  Sabai and the boys

Sabai and the boys

In late 2014 I returned to find them. Their way of life has changed dramatically from what I had been lucky enough to witness. The family now lives on Au Bon Yai, a village perched on the edge of the rainforest. Sabai’s sight has failed so she rarely leaves the hut, and the boys are now pursuing a more conventional island education. Baba, the eldest, excels in class but keeps the ‘old ways’ alive, leading his school friends on fishing missions in between lessons. This is what the next generation of Moken looks like, for now, but I fear the world is becoming impoverished with the loss of another unique culture. 

  Au Bon Yai - the Moken village perched on the edge of the rainforest

Au Bon Yai - the Moken village perched on the edge of the rainforest

 Tat puts a new roof on his kabang

Tat puts a new roof on his kabang

Introducing SY Meltemi, Our First Catamaran

Meltemi is named after a wind in the Mediterranean Sea. She is our first catamaran: a French-built Lagoon 500, one of the most successful yachts ever designed for high-end charter. 

Her previous owner was a Malay princess. In 2015, Meltemi joined Burma Boating's fleet for private charters and our Luxury Sailing Adventure cruises in Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago.  

Meltemi is easy to sail, all winches are electric and can be fully controlled from the large flybridge. She's a great yacht for groups of friends or families and there is lots of space to play or lounge. When under sail, most guests just love to lie in the nets at the bow with the water splashing below. 

Watch MY Drenec Cruising in the Seychelles on her Way to Myanmar

Our expedition yacht MY Drenec spent a few weeks in the Seychelles this summer before continuing her passage to Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago. We put together a few of our favourite images taken by the Danish photographer David Høgsholt. In October Drenec will arrive in the Mergui Archipelago, just in time for the coming season. 

Interested in a Trip on Drenec? 

Sneak Preview: Introducing Our Classic Expedition Vessel MY Drenec

Here's a first look at our new yacht, the expedition vessel MY Drenec, which will be joining our fleet with the beginning of the coming season in November 2015. Drenec is a beautifully designed and very well-equipped luxury yacht. In her previous life, Drenec spent years exploring the Indian Ocean and remote areas such as the Arctic. We will keep you updated on our new cruises!    

What You Will See in Myanmar

Myanmar has many faces. A few months ago, the country launched an official branding campaign called "Myanmar - Let the Journey Begin" which was first presented at the World Economic Forum. The short video showcases some of Myanmar’s top attractions such as the golden rock, Yangon’s Shwedagon pagoda and the ancient city of Bagan - and plenty of Buddhist imagery.

Have a look if you're still not sure what to expect when visiting the country!

Our Favourite Pictures from Last Season

We love it when our guests share photos of their sailing holidays with us! It's a wonderful way of experiencing our cruises through their eyes. We received many beautiful images but here are our favourite pictures taken in the last season. With its beaches and jungle-covered islands, its villages and Moken settlements, the Mergui Archipelago is a truly mesmerising world. Have a look and click yourself through the images!

10 Reasons to Visit Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago

1 - Be alone...

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2 - ... on untouched beaches like this

3 - Meet the local "Sea Gypsies"

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4 - See more stars than you've ever seen before

5 - We'll play with the wind...

6 - ...and in the water

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7 - See all the beauty nature has to offer 

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8 - ...and catch our own dinner

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9 - The food is amazing...

10 -... and you'll enjoy all this aboard a beautiful classic sailing yacht

Click here to watch our video and see what sailing aboard Meta IV looks and feels like

The 5 Most Beautiful Beaches and Islands in Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago

Most people have not yet noticed that Myanmar has some of the most beautiful beaches and islands in all of Asia. Here's a list of some places you should know when you are planning your next trip to Myanmar. And you will have most of these spots all to yourself!

 

1. Kyun Phi Lar 

Sometimes also called Pilar, this is definitely our favourite island in Myanmar's beautiful Mergui Archipelago. The long white beaches stretch for kilometers without a footprint in the sand. We frequently see monkeys sitting on the beach and leisurely snacking on crabs. It's a real paradise!

Pilar island Myanmar Mergui Burma beach

 

2. Lampi Island

... is the largest island in the southern half of the archipelago and it's shaped like a giant horse shoe. Scientists are just starting to explore the amazing wildlife of Lampi. It is said that there are still wild elephants living in the forests, but at this moment nobody really seems to know. 

lamp island beaches Mergui Myanmar

 

3. Macleod Island

Currently the only island in the archipelago with a small resort which blends in well and does not disturb the nature. 

macleod island beach in Myanmar

 

4. Nyaung Wee I

... is surrounded by many beautiful smaller islands and there are so many that some don't even have a name. On the east side of Nyaung Wee I is a small Moken village we frequently visit during our trips.

Moken village photo

 

5. (No Name) Island

This would be one of the islands without name and we love it for the beaches, the great views of the other small islands and the corals growing around it. There's also a small hiking trail through the forest. 

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There are many, many more...

...and most of them are just as gorgeous. The Mergui Archipelago has over 800 islands in total. Each and every one of them is a treasure. Here are some more impressions.

Mergui beaches and islands
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clear waters and beaches Myanmar Mergui
sundown at the Mergui beaches
Mergui tribe village
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