We arrived in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma), in November. Instantly the heat had us deciding to take a bus to Chaungtha Beach, the most popular beach among Burmese vacationers and the closest to Yangon.
Accommodation in Chaungtha Beach was a bit more expensive than in Yangon, especially the beach-facing hotels. These are typically luxury resorts made up of spacious bungalows surrounded by garden and with direct access to the beach. Although they looked fabulous, their $100 price tag was above our budget.
Instead, we stayed at a simple guest house on the main road through Chaungtha, just across the road from the sea. Here a small bungalow with private shower was just $24. We arrived at 3 a.m. off the bus from Yangon, and although we had booked that night we didn't have to pay for it!
In order to explore the area well, we rented a scooter from some local boys for $8 a day. We just approached a group of young guys who were hanging about on the street and asked them if any would be willing to rent us their bike. Within seconds we had several pushing their bikes towards us, each wanting us to take theirs. This was obviously going to be good money for them. This gave us the chance to really explore the area and get lost in the rural countryside on our way to deserted, palm-lined beaches, that we would not have reached if it weren't for the bike.
Chaungtha itself is a relaxing place to be. There's just one main street with a market at one end and plenty of restaurants serving delicious Burmese seafood and fish dishes, all at rock-bottom prices.
After spending a few days in Chaungtha Beach, we wanted to explore the next beach on our list, Ngwe Saung beach.
We could have gone by road, but this is a 70-kilometer loop around. When they explained to us the alternative route, along the coast, we didn't think twice and went for it. We rented a couple of scooters with drivers for around $8 each and off we went.
The journey was an amazing experience. It involved crossing two rivers in a small wooden boat, scooters included, just as the locals do (left).
Half of the trip was driving along these narrow paths and surrounded by palm trees and countryside (top); the last part of the journey was along the beach with these amazing views.
It took us about half a day to get to Ngwe Saung Beach, but the experience was worth it and the beach is beautiful!
When we finally arrived in Ngwe Saung we had a bit of difficulty finding a hotel room. Here the options are much more limited. Again, the beachfront was lined with luxury resort hotels; however, there were no budget options. We managed to negotiate a room for $40 at Silver View Resort, but that was because we were lucky to find the owner there. Otherwise we would have been stuck paying at least $75.
Despite the high prices of the rooms, we were surprised to see that the food on the hotel's menu was reasonably priced. We dined on a tasty prawn and orange salad with moonlight shimmering over the ocean and the silhouette of the twin stupa rocks.
More from Juan Gallardo on exploring this budget-friendly Southeast Asia destination: myanmartravelessentials.com.