In a nutshell
Chaung Tha is a pretty coastal town that lies in the Irrawaddy Region and is a great place if you want to spend some time by the sea in Myanmar.
Why go to Chaung Tha
The town has grown in recent years as a beach resort and you can choose from a range of seaside accommodation that will let you take in the best of the sea views right from your hotel or guesthouse.
When it comes to the beach itself you can expect a rolling strip of soft golden sand and many of the hotels and resorts here have sections of private beach for guests. Hawkers walk along the beach selling gorgeous barbecued seafood and this is the perfect place to come if you want to enjoy one of the most relaxed and naturally beautiful parts of the country.
One of the highlights of a trip to Chaung Tha is a trip to the neighbouring islands that lie off shore and you can easily catch a local boat across the water to explore.
When to go to Chaung Tha
It is widely held that the best time to visit Chaung Tha is from November to February which comes directly after the monsoon period and usually sees dry weather. From February onwards it can be uncomfortably hot in Myanmar and from June to October the rainy season hits which means that you may be disappointed if you have come to Chaung Tha expecting to spend all day sunbathing on the beach.
Where to stay in Chaung Tha
Chaung Tha is still a developing holiday destination in Myanmar and as such you won’t find as many accommodation options here compared with other areas.
That said, the options available in Chaung Tha include scenic bungalows, many of which are located on the beach which means that you can look out across the water and open your door directly onto the beautiful golden sands.
One of the most popular choices is the Shwe Ya Min Hotel which has bungalow style rooms that cost between USD 15-25 depending on the size. Rooms are clean and recently refurbished and there is also an attached restaurant if you want to try some delicious local food without having to venture too far. If you are not on a budget then you will also find a number of larger resorts here.
Where to eat in Chaung Tha
There is a lively and delicious food scene in Chaung Tha and as you are right next to the sea you can expect to find a huge amount of fresh fish and seafood on the menu. As well as seafood you will also find a selection of traditional Burmese dishes such as curries and noodles and delicious desserts abound here such as slices of fresh juicy mango.
Some great choices include the William Restaurant and Guest House which has a bar area and restaurant and has English speaking staff. Another option is the Seagate Seafood Restaurant and Bar which looks like a loft and serves up toothsome seafood which is cooked in a range of traditional Thai dishes. They also serve cocktails.
How to get around Chaung Tha
The main area of Chaung Tha (the beachfront) is accessible on foot and you won’t need to use public transport to get around. If you do want to go on a short trip outside the main areas then you can get a motorbike taxi which will cost around MMK 500 for a short trip around town. You may also want to explore some of the islands offshore such as Pokala Island and this requires a short boat ride which should only cost around MMK 1,000 for a return ticket.
How to get to and from Chaung Tha
Most people travel first to Pathein and then make the journey onward to Chaung Tha. This allows you to break the journey and also explore Pathein at the same time. You can get a motorbike taxi to Chaung Tha Beach from Pathein although the price depends upon your haggling skills.
If you are travelling directly from Yangon then you can get a bus which leaves at either 6 am or 10 pm during the high season from Aung San Stadium in Yangon. It takes around 6 hours to get to Chaung Tha as the buses stop along the way although tickets only cost MMK 18,000.
If you want to travel to Chaung Tha more quickly and a little more comfortably then consider hiring a taxi which can be a cost effective choice if you are traveling in a group.
Some travelers also make the trip to Chaung Tha from Ngwe Saung and one of the best ways to do this is to hire a motorbike and a driver. The trip takes four hours and should cost around MMK 8,000 but it can be quite an experience as you will need to cross two rivers which require loading the motorbike onto a wooden ferry. Certainly if you are looking for an adventure and the chance to take in some of the prettiest scenery in Myanmar along the way then this is a great choice and can be the highlight of a trip to this part of the world for many.
Is Chaung Tha a safe place to visit?
Violent crime in Chaung Tha is low, particularly involving foreigners. One of the biggest issues you may face here is scams related to pricing in restaurants which may be more than the price printed on menus. Hawkers who walk along the beach may also overcharge for items although this is usually less of a problem than in other areas of Myanmar. As such make sure you agree all prices in advance in Chaung Tha
Myanmar has both malaria and dengue fever which means that you need to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Cover up at night with long sleeved clothing and use insect repellent particularly when you are close to the water. If you want to take anti-malarial prophylaxis during your trip to Myanmar then consult with a medical professional before you travel.
Healthcare in Chaung Tha is basic and you will only be able to use small local clinics around town. Should you become seriously ill the best advice is to travel to Yangon or possible even further afield to neighbouring Thailand.