Island Paradise Nyaung Oo Phee. Salt-colored sand. Translucent azure ocean waters. Tranquility and serenity. Every year it becomes more challenging to find your own secret hideaway. Between Tripadvisor, apps, and social media there are fewer and fewer undiscovered corners of the world. But I found my slice of perfection.
Off the west coast of Thailand is the Andaman Sea, which is dotted with dreamy islands covered with white sands and thick verdant green forests. Speedboats ferry tourists to these islands to snorkel and snap selfies. Unfortunately, upwards to a couple of thousand people can be deposited at the same time which blanket the beaches and detract from the physical perfection. In fact, the volume of visitors can be so overwhelming, that some of the Thai islands have been shut down, no longer welcoming visitors. Imagine milling around with 2,000 tourist on a single beach as 50 speedboats deliver their passengers.
Snorkeling is pretty incredible here.
This octopus is amazing. Check out its camouflage capabilities.
But a little further north and west are a series of Burmese islands equally as stunning, yet not overwhelmed with self-serving selfie takers. And to elevate that feeling of solitude and perfection, consider staying over on a private island in the Andaman Sea.
I spent two nights at Victoria Cliff on the private island of Nyaung Oo Phee located in the Andaman Sea.
Nyaung Oo Phee and the regions was previously under the purview of pirates. Since 1940, The Burmese military controlled the area and it was off limits to all. It was only in 2015 when this area opened up to tourism.
What You Need To Know
How To Get There
You can take an overnight bus or flight to Ranong. Ranong is located on the skinny part of Thailand at the corner of Myanmar and Thailand. AirAsia and Nok Airlines, both discount airlines provide direct flights to Ranong from Don Mueang in Bangkok. I saw one way flights as cheap as $20 for the hour plus flight.
On the western outskirts of Bangkok, you can take a bus from the Bangkok Southern Bus Terminal. This ride is approximately 8-9 hours and will set you back from 400-700 Baht. Night buses leave at 8 pm.
Unless you happen to be near the coast, it is easier to access this island from Thailand than Myanmar. MNA and Air KBZ airlines offer flights from Yangon to Kawthaung (the port town in Myanmar). These flights are approximately three hours (not direct) and will set you back up to $200 plus. Bus is nearly a 40 hour journey from Kawthoung to Yangon.
How to get to the island
Victoria Cliffs provides a morning boat from the port in Ranong to Nyaung Oo Phee. You will stop briefly in Kawthaung (Myanmar) for brief immigration formalities. Then the speedboat will continue on to Victoria Cliff which is about an hour and 45 minutes. If already in Kawthaung, you can join the boat when passengers are processed through immigration. This boat ride to the hotel is included in the price of your stay.
Where to stay before your trip
You can stay in Kawthoung (in Myanmar (Burma)). Victoria Cliff has a sister property in Kawthoung, named a bit confusingly, Victoria Cliff Hotel & Resort. This is a convenient option to get to the pier in Kawthoung for your boat morning ride to Nyaung Oo Phee. The ride is provided gratis by the hotel.
One option is staying in Ranong (Thailand) near the port. There is short boat ride (15 minutes) from Ranong to Kawthaung. A good hotel option next to the pier is BC Badin Resort. It is comfortable and affordable and only five minutes from the pier in Ranong.
Most westerners require a visa to enter Myanmar. Today, this process is straight forward and easy. Proceed to their government website to get a visa. A tourist visa will set you back $50 which can be paid online with a credit card. Make sure you choose Kawthaung Land Border Checkpoint. You will need to upload a passport sized photo. In several day, the paperwork will be processed and you will receive an email with the form that you will need to print and present at the Kawthaung border.
The Burmese immigration office is a simple building just minutes from the pier where the boat will dock. Most likely, you will be stamped in within minutes.
Just note, this is a single entry visa, so do not get stamped out before you are ready to leave Myanmar.
Nyaung Oo Phee requires you to be at the pier in Ranong at 8 am, yet the boat departs at 9:30 am. I found the wait to be irritating. It was explained it took 90 minutes to process the travelers through immigration. When I went to Thai immigration to get stamped out, it took less than a minute since I was the only person there.
At The Hotel
There are three classes of rooms: Luxury Tents, Superior Rooms, and Deluxe Rooms. I stayed in the Deluxe Rooms, which were truly awesome. A very spacious and comfortable room. The bathroom was giant and modern. And the views were awesome, literally overlooking the ocean and beach from my private balcony.
The tents are more of a glamping style, where you able to stand up inside. These are not the crawl-in type of tent. There are no ACs, so these can heat up, especially during the day. These come with private attached bathrooms.
Your rooms will be within mere meters of the beach on Nyaung Oo Phee. One morning for sunrise, I was nearly the only one on the beach.
Feel free to snorkel, swim, kayak, or just lay out on the beach.
The main building at Victoria Cliff includes the restaurant, small bar, a tiny store and reception. This is where you will have all of your meals. Three meals are included in a buffet style during your stay. I enjoyed the omelet station for breakfast. You can also order off the menu for any additional meals, snacks, or drinks that you want.
The meals can in some ways be limited. One dinner buffet’s offering was four fish/seafood dishes. No alternatives were provided. And the food on the menu can be on the expensive side, French fries (while very tasty) were $10. Local beers are very reasonable at a couple of dollars. If you have some room in your luggage consider adding in some snacks.
One of my favorite aspects of the restaurant, is drinking water was provided for free. Drives me crazy when I am charged $2, $3 or $5 for a water when I am at a high end resort.
Yes, there is nightly entertainment. Traditional dancing. A couple of Burmese classics on the guitar. And of course, there is a nightly fire show, which is a prerequisite of any South East Asian island.
The music is a bit loud and the lighting a bit cheesy. But it is a fun way to end the night with a beer and beach side entertainment.
The boat trips
There are two boat trips a day, morning and afternoon. This is inclusive of your package. This is a great opportunity to explore nearby islands. It is a great experience when you boat drops anchor, and you are the only boat you can see on the horizon.
Some of the stops included fantastic snorkeling. They provide life jackets, mask, and snorkel. I was a bit disappointed that they did not provide fins. The currents can be quite strong in some places so be aware. Many snorkelers grabbed a life saver and were dragged around by the guide.
Or other stops include just hanging out on a pristine beach.
I found the guides on the boat to be great. Fun and good customer service. They made the day that much better.
As the boat departs from Ranong, your Thai SIM card will eventually lose its signal. Victoria Cliff Resort offers Wi-Fi in the restaurant. The signal is not strong, but you will be able to upload the occasional FB photo. Don’t expect to stream Narcos.
Language is somewhat limited on Nyaung Oo Phee unless you speak great Burmese. Some of the staff speaks Thai and some others speak basic English.
No credit cards. But US dollars, Thai Baht, Chinese Renminbi, and Burmese Kyat are accepted. The hotel does not offer great exchange rates, so beware.
Of course this is island life, so bring the sun tan lotion, bug spray, hats, sunglasses, and etc.
On a side note, there is a 30 minute difference between Thailand and Myanmar.
Who is there?
I was only one of three farangs (westerners) during my stay. The clientele is Thai, Burmese and Chinese at this time.
Paradise does not come cheap, but once you reazlize these packages are inclusive of your room, transportation to the island, your food, as well as daily boat trips, it seems a lot more reasonable. I only spent a couple of extra dollars on tips and a handful of drinks.
Nyaung Oo Phee offers a handful of options including day trips, one night, and two night trips. The daily and one night trips operate every day except Monday. The two night trips depart Wednesday and Friday.
As an example, the two night trip in a tent runs you 10,540 Baht ($335.70) a person and in the high-end room it is 15,840 Baht ($504) a person. Remember these are all inclusive.
Victoria Cliff cannot be booked online or on Agoda, but you can fill out a form online.
Disclosure. If you book through Agoda, I will earn a commission. Thanks!
Looking for an amazing experience in Thailand, whether getting a Sak Yant Tattoo or an amazing cultural experience? Please check out Where Sidewalks End.
Island Paradise Nyaung Oo Phee