Top Attractions in Myanmar's Far South
At one time, Dawei was a port for the Thai empire of Ayutthaya. But those busy days are gone, and it's now a rather sleepy seaside town. It still has great charm; old wooden shophouses rub shoulders with grandiose colonial buildings, the market and the teahouses are up there with the best in Myanmar, and the beaches are lovely.
'Big Pagoda' (Payagyi) in the middle of town has glittering glass tiles, tons of gilding, and an earth goddess whose chest is glossy with patina, as locals rub them for good luck. Out of town, the Shwe Thalyuang pagoda is set in shady woodland, with a huge reclining Buddha.
Prettiest of all is Myaw Yit pagoda. It sits on its own rocky island, sheltered by trees, and reached by a rickety old bridge.
There's a choice of beaches, too; the sweet, small Nabule beach has a tiny pagoda perched on a rock in the sea at one end, while the more developed Maungmagan beach has seafood shacks and beachfront bars.
2. Myeik Archipelago
The Myeik Archipelago is one of the wildest parts of Myanmar, with many islands either uninhabited or occupied only by a small village or two. With the exception of two resorts there's been little tourist development, so most tourists take a dive trip or a cruise to visit the islands. Those are big budget options, though, so taking a day trip out of Kawthong is another possibility, either snorkeling, visiting the Moken 'sea gypsies', and enjoying beaches on Dome Island.
Kawthoung is right at the southernmost end of Myanmar; cross the Pagyan river estuary and you're in Thailand. It's a modest town, but an excellent starting point if you want to explore the thousand islands of the Myeik Archipelago. It's close to the prettiest and most developed of the islands and handles the majority of boat tours. With just a day trip you can manage to visit three or four islands for snorkelling or diving.
Like any self-respecting Burmese town, Kawthoung has a hilltop pagoda, but there are few other sights. However, if you're planning a multi-country trip, this is an ideal spot to cross into Thailand.