Far from the hurly-burly of Pattaya or Bangkok, Ranong is a discreet Thai city located by the Andaman Sea, near the very South of the Myanmar border. Discreet doesn’t mean uninspiring though, and people keen on relaxation, nature and well-being will find the place worth a 1 or 2 day stopover.
The Hot Springs at Raksawarin: The Raksawarin Hot Springs are certainly the most famous attraction of the area. After a nice and short walk along the river, you will find a surprising site filled with natural hot water basins. A nice opportunity to chill and chit chat with locals who enjoy bathing there especially before and after work. Your body will thank you in the process since these particular ablutions are known to stimulate the blood flow and remineralisation. Definitely a perfect place to kill an hour or two before heading to the airport.
Ngao Mangrove Forest Research Center : Nature lovers will also be interested in the Ngao Mangrove Forest Research Center. This site which has been declared a World Biosphere Reserve Zone by the UNESCO is located 19 km far from the city center of Ranong. This mangrove forest is the birthplace and home for young offspring of many species of marine life before they’re strong enough to live on their own in the open sea, and the Center provides guided treks along the 2-kilometer nature trail to discover its special fauna and flora and say hi to the many monkeys who live there. Note that it might be a good idea to book in advance if you want to visit this wonderful site.
The Ngao Waterfall: Located in the same national park as the hot springs and the mangrove, Namtok Ngao National Park, you can also discover the Punyaban Waterfall. You may have noticed this stripe of white among the cliffs while on a boat between Ranong and one of the surrounding islands. An easy 5 minutes’ walk to the lower tiers of the waterfall will lead you along the water through a path of flowering trees until a nice stream at the foot of the falls full of crystal clear water, small fishes and crabs. While the flora is worth a visit any time of the year, the river may dry up between January and April.
The food: A fine meal is the best way to end a nice day of visits in Ranong, and the culinary options are sure to please every palate. Make your choice between Thai style seafood at Kiang Le Restaurant, a pleasant place along the river with a view of the sunset over Myanmar, delicious and cheap Chinese food at O-Cha Dim Sum or Western and Thai dishes at the Farmhouse hotel. You might as well enjoy to take a dip at the B Hotel, an affordable budget hotel with two lively restaurants and its small pool on the rooftop. Finally, Thailand wouldn’t be Thailand without its fantastic street food. Taste it at its best every Saturday in Ruengrat Road from November to April during the “Walking Street”, where people come sell everything you can imagine on the sidewalks.
Rattanarangsan Palace: ever wondered how Thai kings’ everyday life looked like during the 19th century? Perched atop a small hill in the town center, the Rattanarangsan Palace is a fairly accurate reproduction of the residence that was built for King Chulalongkorn in 1890 during his Malay Peninsula tour. It is also a museum where you can learn about Ranong’s history, see photos of the original palace and some antiques that will be explained to you in a perfect English.
Kawthaung is the departure point of our cabin charter cruises to the Mergui Islands. You will most likely reach Kawthaung from Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. If you want to avoid the 25 hours road trip, there is currently one airline provider that operates daily flights between the two cities. Myanmar National Airlines has just released its new flight schedule during the period between October 1st, 2018 and March 31st, 2019.
IMPORTANT: All our cabin charter cruises depart on Saturday. Unfortunately the flight arriving on the same day at 12:35 won’t allow you to make it on time for our boats’ departure - our cruises leave from Kawthaung at 12:00 noon and guests should arrive at Kawthaung’s pier 1h30 before departure to clear immigration process / authorities check. This is why we strongly advise to arrive with the early morning flight or 1 day before if flying from Yangon to Kawthaung. You can stay the night at Victoria Cliff Hotel, which offers free transfer from the airport.
No problem on the way back though, we will always take you back to Kawthaung in time to catch a flight to Yangon on the same day. Let us know the time of your departure if you have any doubt, our boats usually take our guests back to the city at around 12.00 noon but we will make it happen earlier if needed.
Here’s Myanmar National Airways’ new schedule:
Monday /Wednesday /Friday => 11:00 - 13:40 (via TVY)
Tuesday / Thursday /Saturday /Sunday => 10:30 - 12:35 (via TVY)
Saturday (from 1st November) => 06:45 - 09:25 (via MGZ)
Monday/ Thursday / Saturday / Sunday => 13:05 => 15:10 (via TVY)
Tuesday => 14:50 => 17:40 (Via MNU)
Wednesday/ Friday => 14:10 => 16:50 (via TVY)
** TVY = Dawei; MNU = Mawlamyine (Moulmein); MGZ = Myiek
Note that Myanmar National Airlines reserve the right to change departure time until the flight day without prior notice; it is not uncommon to face a 30 minutes delay or so.
You can book directly online via https://www.flymna.com, the company accept major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, JCB). :
The Tinidee Hotel is an institution in Ranong, a large and well-established hotel with decent rooms, well-trained staff and quality service. The hotel offers a pool, a spa as well as a gym and yoga classes. Located right in the city center, it's a great base to explore Ranong and the surrounding area.
Burma Boating has a cooperation with the Tinidee Hotel. If you have to wait for flight connections before or after your trip, you can spend a few hours in the hotel, leave your luggage there and use the facilities and services at a rate especially discounted for Burma Boating's guests. Guests arriving via Ranong Airport will be brought to the hotel to freshen up and recharge. We will pick you up and bring you to the yacht just in tome for boarding.
Rooms are about THB 1,500-2,000 or about USD 40-50.
The Victoria Cliff is a newly-opened, locally-managed hotel in Kawthaung and definitely the nicest option you have if you plan to spend a night in town before or after your cruise.
The hotel is located on the way to the airport, 2-3 kilometers away from the bustling center of Kawthaung. The dozen or so Asian-style bungalows come with a view of the Andaman Sea.
The Victoria Cliff has an outdoor pool in the pleasant palm garden. There's also a small indoor pool and a spacious gym, possibly the only one in Kawthaung.
Expect rates between USD 100-200, but please contact the management directly, as pricing frequently changes in Myanmar.
Buda Island, also referred to as Nyaung Wee Island, is south of Lampi and part of the Mid Group. The island is home to a small village called Makyone Galet, which is situated on its east coast and offers some fun hikes and great views across the nearby isles.
The village head proudly estimates that the islands is the home of 500 inhabitants but walking along the beach that seems to be a very optimistic estimate.
There is a scenic little house on stilts in front of the beach where local fishing boats like to refill fresh water. Some of the local fishing families will be happy to cook meals for visiting sailors and the kids are always excited to see foreign visitors.
Bo Cho Island is a lush island just opposite the southeastern tip of Lampi. In the channel between the two islands lies the Moken village Ma Kyone Galet.
Many Moken (Salone) fishermen find shelter here during the rainy season and some families have made it their permanent home. Most of the Moken houses are directly at the beach, some with their stilts in the water at high tide as the families like to keep an eye on their boats at all times.
There are about 200 houses Ma Kyone Galet with an estimated population of 850 people, which is as urban as life in the Mergui Archipelago gets. There are also a few simple shops, a school, and a small temple with a Buddha statue overlooking the bay.
Anchoring in the channel is tricky as the current is pretty strong. But there is a beautiful long beach and a fascinating and accessible mangrove forrest just around the corner on Lampi Island.
This is one of the best hotels in Ranong, located in natural surroundings by the sea, just outside the town center. The Blue Sky Resort is a great place for those who'd like to spend a relaxed night in Ranong before or after their cruise with us.
The small boutique hotel features a pool and a restaurant and their friendly staff offer excursions to the hot springs close by.
Some guests told us that cell phone reception can be patchy, so the Blue Sky Resort might not work for you if you need to work or be connected. If you are looking for some peace and quiet, this is just the place for you.
Room rates are THB 4,000 for a forrest view suite and THB 8,000 for a sea view suite.
If you are travelling to Kawthaung via Phuket and need a place to spend the night or if you're planning to spend a few nights in Thailand after your cruise with Burma Boating, then The Sarojin is just the right place for you. The hotel is located in Khao Lak, about an hour's drive north of Phuket on the way to Ranong, or 2.5 hours' drive coming from Ranong.
The 54 rooms are spacious with some featuring a private pool. The beach offers a spectacular view of the sunset over the Indian Ocean. Plus we really like that guests can borrow the hotel's small sailing boats for free.
Rooms cost about USD 300 per night.
Hlaing Gu is a long and narrow island with a beautiful horseshoe-shaped bay in the south which offers protection from the wind, lovely snorkelling and a long white stretch of sand.
Hlaing Gu is sometimes also referred to as Cavern Island. Some of the caves on the rocky south side of the isle are right at the waterline and one can even be accessed by dinghy boat. You'll be able to see bamboo ladders on the rocks: fishermen used them to collect birds nests - a delicacy in many parts of Asia.
There's a small trail leading to the top of the island's 270 meters-high hill with its rich wildlife, small waterfalls and rivers. Local fishermen sometimes collect fresh water here to fill up their water tanks.
Poni is a middle-sized island, a few miles away from the southeastern tip of Lampi Island. Poni is covered with thick jungle. But the west side of the island features a great beach - a beautiful anchorage with a magnificent view of the surrounding islands on the horizon.
It's not unusual for us to discover large animal tracks in the white sand here. There's also a beautiful reef off the beach - a great spot for snorkelling! Some even say the underwater life around Poni might be the most beautiful in the entire Mergui Archipelago.
Poni Island is quite close to islands 115 and Nyaung Wee, one of the areas often visited by the Moken Sea Nomads.
Lord Loughborough is a beautiful island covered by thick green jungle. In the northwestern bay of the island is a small fishing village populated by Moken and other fishermen. Walk along the wooden jetty and follow the path to the right. There is a little school overlooking the ocean and you will probably make dozens of new friends here as the kids are very curious and this place does not receive many visitors.
There are a few basic village shops along the beach. Don't expect any shopping opportunities, but you can buy fish or possibly some shells or cashew nuts. Many Moken come here to work on their boats and if you show interest, they will be happy to show off their techniques. Following local tradition, most houses here are built on pillars as life is still all about the sea.
Have a look at the panorama photos below.
Great Swinton Island is also called Kyun Pila or Kyun Phi Lat in Burmese and is about 50 nautical miles from Kawthaung. The massive bay on its west-coast has one of the most gorgeous, long beaches of the whole archipelago.
The east coast of the island has a good source of fresh water, which is why a tiny, fishing community developed here in the course of the last years on the east coast.
One of the locals told us the following story: at some point recently, the residents got worried that the government might resettle them. So they decided to build a Buddhist temple (with one monk), which they thought would give them more legitimacy. So far, their strategy works.
At the northern end of the village bay, there is a small floating wooden hut with a hose channeling water from a waterfall on the island. You are likely to visit with your yacht as this is one of very few places where boats can refill their tanks in the archipelago. Otherwise life on the island is quiet and the residents will be excited to welcome you ashore. There is a small hut right at the beach with a pool table. Try to win against the local kids. Or chat with the village head who will be happy to show you the treasures local free divers found in a sunken British trading ship from the past century.
The short hike up the mountain with the pagoda on the southeast side of the island offers a great view over the bay.
Check out the three panorama pictures below.
Hastings Island (or Za Det Nge Island in Burmese) offers a lovely anchorage for the night in a bay sheltered by altogether four uninhabited islands, each with long white-sand beaches. The island in the north is called Barwell Island, the other name some sailors use when referring to this anchorage.
On many of our cruises, we spend the first night in the Hastings/Barwell Island group. Watching the sun set over the dense jungle of Hastings is spectacular. The water is clear and you can listen to the birds and monkeys chatting in the forrest.
From Hastings it takes about three comfortable hours to sail to Kawthaung, so some local fishing boats also use this bay to spend their last night before reaching port and so Hastings is one of those spots where it's really easy to meet other boats and barter some fresh catch from the fishermen.
Have a look around on the panorama photo below or open a large version of the image in Google Maps.
Due to unexpected cancellation of most Air KBZ flights to Kawthaung and frequent "last minute" changes of departure times, we have decided not to recommend flying with Air KBZ anymore.
Fortunately another airline, UB Special (recently renamed to Myanmar National Airlines), has just opened a very convenient 1h25min non – stop connection Yangon – Kawthaung – Yangon on Saturdays and Thursdays. At the moment it is the only airline that offers direct flights on this route. And the only one that flies to Kawthaung on Saturdays. Since all our guests arriving from Yangon will take the MNA/UB Special flight, we had to slightly modify the departure and arrival ours of our cruises to adjust them to the new flights schedule.
Effective from January 10, all our cabin charter cruises will start between 12:00pm and 3:00pm (formerly at 12:00pm) and will end at 12:00pm (formerly at 8:00am). All guests are welcome to embark the yacht at 12:00 and enjoy their time on deck. The boats will leave the port when customers arriving from Yangon are on board.
All the guests arriving from Yangon on Saturdays should take the MNA/UB Special flight UB-303 (Yangon - Kawthaung, 11:30 – 12:55). All the guests going back to Yangon after the cruise (on Thursdays), should book the MNA/UB Special flight UB-304 (Kawthaung - Yangon, 16:05 – 17:30). The airline has just launched a new website, which allows booking tickets online and paying with major credit cards (Visa, Master, JCB). Of course, if it’s more convenient, our guests may ask their travel agents for assistance.
The embarkation and disembarkation time change will not affect customers coming from Bangkok. All our guests arriving via Ranong Airport should take the recommended Nok Air connection the morning flight (Bangkok – Ranong, 8:10am – 9:35am, DD7312) on Saturdays and the evening flight (Ranong – Bangkok, 18:35 – 20:00, DD 7319) on Thursdays.
All our guests arriving from Phuket are kindly requested to take into consideration the later hours of departure and arrival of the yacht in Kawthaung and modify their travel arrangements accordingly. The transfers from/to Phuket Airport will also be adjusted, after consultations with guest.
Just as above water, the Mergui Archipelago’s underwater world is uncharted territory. Few divers have explored the Mergui Archipelago and its diving potential, and even fewer dive companies are offering trips into Myanmar’s marine deep south. The Mergui Archipelago is still a true diving frontier.
But great dive sites abound throughout the region, particularly along the western edge of this vast island world. Some of the best diving spots are Black Rock, High Rock, Shark Cave, Fan Forest Pinnacle, Twin Cheeks, Eagles Nest Western Rocky, and a range of other places with similarly colourful names.
Burma Boating offers the option to book private dive charters in the Mergui Archipelago. Guests can choose to combine a sailing cruise on a classic yacht with a diving adventure. SY Raja Laut has her own dive master and equipment if requested. For cruises on our other yachts, we have partnered up with the region’s most experienced dive experts who are happy to equip and guide our guests on their dive charters.
Have a look at some of the pictures taken on trips in the Mergui Archipelago with our dive partners.
There is huge variation of underwater topography ranging from reefs to boulders, to hard coral gardens and rock pinnacles, with a general visibility of 10-40 meters. The region boasts a host of marine wildlife and divers in the Mergui Archipelago are likely to encounter some of the following indigenous species:
Whale sharks, Manta rays and many other rays such as Blotched fantail rays, Kuhl's stingrays, Mangrove whiprays, Porcupine rays, Mobular rays, Jenkin's stingrays and Eagle rays, Black-tip reef sharks, Bowmouth guitar sharks, Leopard sharks, Grey reef sharks, White-tip reef sharks, Tawny nurse sharks, octopus, squid and cuttlefish, Giant and Clown frogfish, Ghost pipefish, Rainbow runners, Neon fusiliers, tuna, scorpionfish, Moray eels, Seahorses, Snappers, schools of big-eye trevally, fusiliers and barracuda, Thorny boxfish, Harlequin and Peacock mantis shrimp, Wentil wrap snail and nudibranches. Just to name a few.
Do let us know if you have any questions regarding your dive charter options with Burma Boating.
All travelers to the tropics should have a travel insurance, and that's what we also request of our guests.
To make things easier for you, we partnered up with World Nomads, our favourite travel insurer. World Nomads is recommended by National Geographic Traveler, Lonely Planet, Rough Guide and other reputable travel experts.
More importantly, World Nomads provides insurance for travelers to Myanmar starting any day, for as long or short as you like, and no matter where you are right now. And it includes all kinds of activities, whether it's sailing, sea kayaking, free-diving, swimming in the open ocean - or (almost) anything else you are planning to do during your vacations.
Feel free to get a quote if you don't yet have a travel insurance for your cruise with Burma Boating!
All foreign travellers need to pay an official visitor fee to enter Myanmar's Mergui Archipelago. The fee is comprised of various components and is calculated based on the duration of the stay, the cruising range, the size of the boat, and the number of guests on the boat. It includes a visitor license, a port fee, and service fees for different government departments.
The total visitor fee for 5-night / 6-day sailing trips currently amounts to USD 310 per person. Fees for guests chartering a private yacht have to be calculated individually.
We are happy to help you obtain your Mergui visitor license and are offering the option to prepay the fees together with your charter fee. If you prefer, you can choose to pay the fees directly to the authorities in cash upon your arrival.
Vessels operating in Myanmar waters and the Mergui Archipelago need to have a Myanmar vessel license, the costs for which Burma Boating carries fully.
All visitors to the Mergui Archipelago can get a Myanmar visa on arrival in Kawthaung. This visa allows travellers to stay in the area for two weeks. The area includes the town of Kawthaung and the Mergui Archipelago. Visa costs for the whole area are currently USD 30, for Kawthaung only they are USD 10. Again, our crew will be happy to help you with the visa procedure upon your arrival.
Foreigners wanting to travel in Myanmar beyond that area will not get a visa on arrival in Kawthaung. Instead, they need to apply for a tourist visa at least one month before entering the country. Citizens of many countries entering Myanmar via Yangon Airport can now apply for an e-visa online.
No matter what type of visa you are applying for, please ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond the end of your cruise.
You‘re going to Myanmar! We can promise you a unique trip to a fascinating country. As with travels to most tropical destinations, there are some things you should think of or should pack when it‘s time to get ready. Have a look at the sheet below for some tips.
Visiting Myanmar is becoming easier and easier. Starting this September, the Ministry of Immigration and Population allows visitors to apply for an e-visa and fill in applications online.
The online procedure won't work for nationals of all countries, so do first check whether your nationality is listed. Once the application is complete, you will have to pay USD 50 by credit card online. It may then take up to five days to get an approval letter by email. This document should be printed out and presented, together with your passport, upon arrival in Myanmar.
Update for 2015:
You can now enter and exit at any international airport with your e-visa, and, importantly, also exit at land border crossings. So you can, for instance, enter Myanmar in Yangon, then fly down to Kawthaung for a cruise in the Mergui Archipelago and later leave Myanmar via Ranong in Thailand without any restrictions.
The approval letter is valid for 90 days, and once the passport is stamped on the border, tourists can stay in Myanmar for up to 28 days.
If you only plan to visit the Mergui Archipelago and enter and exit Myanmar in Kawthaung via Ranong in Thailand, we can organise a visa-on-arrival for you. Regulations and procedures frequently change, so we recommend to check beforehand.