Need a quick sun-and-sea getaway? Forget the usual spots in Bali or Phuket – head to one of these lesser-known beaches. Bonus: they are five hours or less away.
1. NGWE SAUNG BEACH, MYANMAR
FLY TO Yangon, hop on a domestic flight to Pathein, and take a taxi to Ngwe Saung beach. A 20-kilometre stretch of white sand dotted with palm trees, practically begging you to pull out a beach chair and a fruity cocktail, is the first thing you’ll see upon arrival at Ngwe Saung Beach. It’s not the most stunning beach in the region, but its relative lack of development (for now) affords a rare sense of serenity. Visit the famous Kyauk Maumghnama Pagoda (the “brother and sister rocks”), twin gold pagodas set on rocks located on the southern-end of the beach – it’s great for the requisite Instagram shot. In the evening, take a boat ride to Lover’s Island, the nearest island from Ngwe Saung beach. You can even walk to the island during low tide – its elevation makes it a perfect place from which to watch the sunset.
STAY AT Aureum Palace Hotels & Resorts (from US$140 or S$175 per night). Visitors who come here have one main goal: proper rest and relaxation. And what the beach lacks in hip bars and cool restaurants, the resort makes up for in pampering facilities and services. Opt for a Traditional Myanmar Massage (only US$35) – which is said to resemble a Thai massage, but with firmer strokes and kneading – for an invigorating midday treat.
Ngwe Saung Village, Pathein, Ayeyarwaddy Division, tel: +95 4-2402-1821
2. KOH LIPE, THAILAND
FLY TO Langkawi, grab a taxi to Telaga Harbour, and board a ferry to Koh Lipe. The tiny island of Koh Lipe, located at the southern-most tip of Thailand, enjoys a lull between May and October every year– this means visitors during that time get to enjoy lazing on the beach for days in relative peace. Some shops and hotels are closed for business. Take a day trip to the nearby Koh Tarutao Marine National Park: it comprises 51 islands teeming with untouched forests and tropical marine life. Koh Tarutao, the largest of these islands, is home to Toe-Boo Cliff. Take a 20-minute hike to the top – the trail will take you through the jungle – and you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous view overlooking the island and the Andaman Sea.
STAY AT Mali Resort on Pattaya Beach. Each of its Balinese Luxury Ocean View bungalows has an unobstructed view of the sea (from 3,000 baht or S$116 per night). Park yourself in one of the hammocks near the in-house bar (we hear the watermelon shakes are great) and while away an entire day with a book or two.
305 MU7, Koh Lipe 91000, Thailand, tel: +66 8-1897-6047
3. SOKHA BEACH, SIHANOUKVILLE, CAMBODIA
FLY TO Siem Reap, hop on a domestic flight (there’s only one per day) to Sihanoukville, then take a taxi to Sokha Beach. Mostly owned by the Sokha Beach Resort, the 1.5km-long strip of Sokha Beach is considered one of the prettiest beaches in the seaside town of Sihanoukville. This private oasis offers pristine white sands and sparkling water. Its proximity to the popular Otres Beach means you’re just approximately 15 minutes’ drive away from dozens of restaurants selling cheap barbecues seafood, and bars.
STAY AT Sokha Beach Resort (from US$112 or S$140 per night), if only for convenient access to Sokha Beach. If venturing out to look for food is too much of a hassle, head over to guest favourite, Japanese restaurant Lemongrass, for some teppanyaki.
Street 2 Thnou, Sihanoukville, Cambodia, tel: +855 3493-5999
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By Wendy Yee, Her World, October 2014