In a nutshell
Dawei is also sometimes known as Tavoy and is the official capital of the Tanintharyi Division which is in the southeast of Myanmar. This part of the country was closed to tourism for years and as such it has retained an old world charm and offers visitors a glimpse of a more authentic side of Myanmar.
Why go to Dawei
You won’t find much here in the way of resorts or package tours although it may develop further in the future, which means that this is a great time to visit. The town itself is covered in a collection of pretty colonial buildings and graceful pagodas and the outskirts of Dawei are fringed with gorgeous unspoilt beaches.
When to go to Dawei
The best time to visit Dawei is from November to February as this is the period that falls directly after the monsoon season. As a result you can expect it to be dry and warm although after February temperatures shoot up and it can get very dusty. From June to October the rainy season hits Myanmar which means that flooding is common in remote areas and it can also rain every single day.
Where to stay in Dawei
Despite the fact that Dawei is a relatively new tourist destination in Myanmar, it has quite a good selection of accommodation. This however mostly caters to budget and mid range travelers and you will find simple rooms with no hot water, fans, and a shared bathroom for around USD 20 per night. If you have a larger budget then you can get rooms in the region of USD 45 which come with your own private bathroom, air conditioning and hot water.
One of the other big draws when it comes to accommodation in Dawei is that you can also rent a beach bungalow which will give you direct access to the golden sands for which the town is famous. You should note however that these can be fully booked in the high season from October to April and you will need to book in advance.
Where to eat in Dawei
Dawei does not have a particularly large selection of eateries but you will still find a variety of different cuisines on offer. As you would expect, you will find typical Burmese dishes here which can usually be bought quite cheaply and seafood dishes are common here as Dawei is close to the sea. Other kinds of cuisine that you are likely to find in Dawei include Thai food as well as some Malay choices due to the range of influences here. You can also get some Western bites such as pastries, iced coffees and milkshakes in many of the restaurants attached to local guesthouse, or eat in the onsite restaurants in larger hotels if you are looking for a more upscale dining experience.
How to get around Dawei
It is fairly easy to get around Dawei as you can hire a motorcycle taxi or a trishaw for as little as MMK 500 for a short journey. If you are travelling a little further afield then expect to pay in the region of MMK 2,000.
Many visitors to the town also choose to rent their own bicycle or motorcycle from a hotel or guesthouse which costs around MMK 7,000 to MMK 10,000 per day. Unlike many other places in Myanmar you will probably want to hire transportation when you are in Dawei as although you can walk around the centre of town fairly easily, one of the big draws is the outlying beach areas which require a set of wheels.
How to get to and from Dawei
There are a number of ways to get to Dawei depending on your budget and itinerary. One of the most common routes is to travel overland from Yangon by bus which takes between 12-15 hours, or you can also travel across the border from Kanchanaburi in Thailand via the Phu Nam Ron Border Crossing which takes around 7 hours. Tickets for the bus from Kachanaburi to Phu Nam Ron cost around THB 80 and THB 800 from Phu Nam Rom to Dawei. You can also get a bus from Mawlamyine to Dawei which takes around 8 hours and costs MMK 12,000.
If you want to move on from Dawei to Thailand then you can also take a bus to the border town of Htee Kee and there are buses that run every day between 8 am and 9 am. Tickets cost around MMK 20,000 and many guesthouses in Dawei will help you to organize a ticket in advance.
A quicker and more convenient way of getting to Dawei is to fly from Yangon using Air KBZ or Myanmar Airways. Note however that not all of these flights are direct and some may stop in Kawthaung or may stop in Dawei first. Many flights also only operate in the high season from October to April and do not run every day even during this period.
You can also get a train to Dawei from Mawlamyine or Ye. There is also a train from Yangon to Dawei which travels through Bago, Mawlamyine and Ye and takes around 24 hours.
Lastly, the final option is to take a ferry from Myeik or Kawthaung. It takes around 4 hours to get from Myeik to Dawei and tickets cost around USD 25 and around 10 hours to get to Kawthaung.
Is Dawei a safe place to visit?
Dawei is widely considered a safe destination to visit in Myanmar. You should however take care if travelling overland between Dawei and the Thai border town of Htee Kee as the road is in poor condition. As such make sure that you book a bus that is roadworthy and check the safety conditions on the bus before you board to make sure that you feel comfortable making the journey.
You should also note that you will also have to pass through three government checks as well as two Karen National Union checkpoints on the road from Dawei to Htee Kee as this part of Myanmar is under the control of the Karen National Union. Despite this, the journey from Dawei to other parts of Myanmar is widely considered to be safe.