There are few places left in the world that can truly be described as untouched by tourism, but the Mergui Archipelago is one of them. Cast like jewels over the Andaman Sea on Myanmar’s southern tip, these 800 wild islands are ringed with sparkling white sand beaches and coral reefs, and cloaked in dense jungle where hornbills soar through the trees and monkeys chatter from high branches. And the best thing is: THERE IS NO-ONE ELSE THERE! No tourist bungalows, no high-rise hotels, no beachside tiki–bars. Aboard our mothership, a sleek 60’ catamaran, we travel in glorious isolation, except for encounters with the nomadic Moken, a disappearing tribe of animists who live a very simple life of foraging and fishing.
From our mothership base, we explore this forgotten paradise in kayaks and (as an option) stand up paddleboards. This is a true voyage of discovery: we paddle up mysterious rivers in the shade of massive banyan trees, and take short forays into the jungle in search of the last remaining elephants that, rumor has it, still roam one of the larger islands. And as for the snorkeling that we do every day, here is what adventure journalist Bruce Kirkby wrote about his experiences with a mask and fins in Mergui: “Glittering schools of fish clogged the ocean. We snorkeled above cities of wondrous coral, sponges the size of 50-gallon barrels and forests of elkhorn coral.” And there’s more: with luck we see manta rays, sea turtles and colourful octopus.
On this Myanmar kayaking adventure we have dolphins playing in our wake, watch incredible sunsets, go on moonlight sails and discover spectacular caves. Along the way we pass the small craft of the shy Moken people or “Sea Gypsies” who still live in harmony with their marine environment. We learn about their enduring animistic belief system, and visit one of their mysterious shrines.
After each day of kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkeling, we anchor in a quiet bay or cove, and dine beneath a vast mantle of stars, watching the constellations move across the sky in their full glory.
To explore a part of the world that is still truly ‘off the map’ and to do it in style, is a rare experience. Join us on this fabulous adventure!
We think of our itineraries as melodies: they have a beginning and an end, a certain arc, dramatic highlights and a few surprises. We like to improvise, to adapt to the mood of our guests or to circumstances that arise — an invitation to a traditional wedding, say, or a local ethnic festival…
Crafting beautiful, harmonious trips with delightful twists is our trade mark and passion.
A mothership adventure in wild islands untouched by the modern world
Meet in Ranong, a funky harbor town on the Andaman Ocean and settle into our hotel before our welcome dinner.
Transfer to the bustling harbor of Ranong from where we take a traditional wooden boat across the river estuary to Kawthuang in Myanmar. After clearing formalities, board our stable and spacious catamaran and sail to an anchorage to celebrate our first day on board.
Sail between jungle-cloaked islands, go snorkeling to look for manta rays, paddle up mysterious rivers, make the only footprints on huge white sand beaches, swim in the warm ocean, learn stand up paddle boarding in sheltered bays, kayak to your heart’s content, have encounters with the shy Moken people or ‘sea gyspies’, dine under the stars and revel in the being way-out in one of the world’s last tropical wilderness areas.
Sail back to Kuawthuang, transfer back to Ranong and settle in to our hotel before a farewell dinner to celebrate our Mergui Adventure.
Say goodbye to your fellow adventures before your journey home or onward travels.
Please note: this itinerary serves as an example of trip highlights and is subject to change.
The country is in the most exciting time of its history, as it emerges from decades of dictatorship and isolation into a new dawn of democracy.
It is truly one of the world’s forgotten tropical paradises. Until 1997 it was closed to outsiders, and there is still only one small resort on all of its 800 islands. Its beaches are astonishingly beautiful, the lush rain forest is home to a rich array of flora and fauna, there are some great snorkeling sites and a fascinating indigenous culture – the Moken, a disappearing tribe of nomadic seafarers.
There are nonstop flights from Bangkok to Ranong with Happy Air http://www.happyair.co.th/ (from Bangkok’s international terminal) and Nokair http://www.nokair.com/nd (from Bangkok’s domestic terminal.) There are also regular connections by bus and mini van (6-8 hours)
Yes. You will get a visa on arrival in Thailand for which there is no charge. For Myanmar, your visa will be issued in Kawthaung, on Day 2 of the trip. You will also require a special permit to enter the restricted Mergui Archipelago. Visa regulations are changing frequently, and we will advise you a few months ahead of the trip start date on the most update to formalities and the steps you need to take. However you can expect the permit and visa to come to about US $300.
We will provide you with some suggested hotels in Bangkok and Ranong, and for a quiet beach stay we highly recommend Phayam Lodge on Koh Phayam Island, which is a 45 minute boat ride from Ranong. More info on Phayam Lodge…
A reasonable level of fitness is required, and you should be able to swim. The kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and snorkeling are all suitable for beginners. We will also be doing some gentle hikes.
Our mothership will serve a variety of western and Thai dishes. We can easily cater for vegetarians.
Medical insurance, including emergency evacuation, is mandatory on all our trips. We also strongly advise you to purchase trip cancellation insurance and to make sure that the Trip Cost is covered.
Your routine vaccinations (tetanus/diphtheria, polio, etc.) must be up to date. Another general precaution for travelers anywhere in the world is a hepatitis A and possibly a typhoid vaccination. If you are travelling into South East Asia from a country with a risk of yellow fever virus transmission, you will need to provide proof of yellow fever vaccination. For those countries, see the Center for Disease Control’s list of countries with risk of yellow fever virus transmission
In rural areas of Burma there is the risk of malaria, so it is advisable to take malarial medication. Please consult your local travel clinic or physician about this. As there is also the presence of dengue fever (transmitted by mosquitoes) in Burma, it is advisable to also opt for transmission protection (long sleeves/trousers, and regular applications of DEET insect repellent). Sensible precautions should ensure you do not get bitten.
Airport transfers on the first and last days of the trip, all guiding and equipment, SUPs and relevant equipment, all accommodation in hotels and on board the mothership and meals.
International and domestic flights, airport transfers not on the first or last days of the trip, visa fees, park fees and permits ($300 as mentioned above), alcoholic and soft drinks, personal insurance and gratuities.
You will not need Burmese currency on the trip, however you will need some US$ to pay for your visa fee and park fee on the Burmese border, and it is VITAL that these are brand new notes, with no creases, stains or marks. For paying for drinks on the mothership, and for tips to the crew, you will need Thai Baht, which you can obtain from ATMs in Bangkok Airport and in Ranong.
When you sign up for the trip, we will provide you with a comprehensive clothes and equipment list.
As a group, we will be donating medical supplies for malaria prevention. You could collect reading glasses that have been discarded or you may source them cheaply. These are highly appreciated and can really change people’s lives.
Absolutely not. We have many guests who travel with us on their own. They appreciate the camaraderie of our Hidden Places groups, and usually go home with new-found friends. To reserve a cabin on the mothership for yourself we would require a Single Supplement of 50% of the Land Cost.
Land Cost varies depending on which cabin you choose. Cost per person based on double occupancy is as follows. The two master cabins (each with one single and one double berth): $5150 per person. The larger double cabin (one double berth): $4890. The smaller double cabin (one double berth): $4790. The basic double cabin with 2 single bunks: $4590. For the cost of triple occupancy of the master cabins, please enquire.
A multi activity adventure in SE Asia’s most intriguing and undiscovered country. Our carefully designed itinerary takes you to Burma’s must-see sights, as well as the off–the–beaten track corners we’ve discovered, immersing you in the culture, history, charm and beauty of this amazing country.
No journey to SE Asia is complete without a visit to the mystical Angkor temples around Siem Reap, Cambodia. Watch the sun rise over the stunning towers of Angkor Wat; sit in the roots of a giant tree to gaze at the peaceful four side faces of Bayon temple; marvel at the intricate carvings in Banteay Srei and hike through cool forest to the astounding riverbed carvings in Kbal Spean. As our knowledgeable guide brings history alive, you will be spellbound and moved by this incomparable UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This trip is led personally by Dag Goering and/or Maria Coffey, founders of Hidden Places and Elephant Earth.
On request, November through March, for groups of 6-10
Starting at US $4950
50% of Land Cost
10 nights, 11 days
Kayaking (suitable for beginners) stand up paddle boarding (optional), snorkeling, short hikes, cultural visits
2 nights in hotel, 8 nights catamaran with en suite bathrooms and A/C
Adventure Travel has been our specialty since 1991 when we started to explore the world’s most spectacular places as photographers and writers. Several years (and several books) later we began sharing our experiences with others by developing and leading adventure tours. We founded Hidden Places Travel in 2000 and quickly became renowned for our unique, off-the-beaten-track itineraries. Our support of local communities and conservation projects gives our kayak trips unprecedented access and our loyal following of repeat guests is a testament to our professionalism and nurturing approach.
We invite you to join us on one of our life-changing adventures.
Dag Goering and Maria Coffey
Sailing through the Mergui Archipelago is like traveling to another planet. With Hidden Places we experienced it all in luxury: exquisite dining, fine accommodation, expert guidance — and just enough snorkeling, kayaking and SUP boarding to keep us from losing all perspective. A fantastic trip to the edges of the world!Toronto, ON, Canada
An amazing adventure! The scenery above and under the water could amaze even this very spoiled person. And going on an SUP board around a picture perfect islet was just out of this world. I hope to come back one day.Vancouver, BC, Canada
Every Hidden Places trip gets better. I can’t think of a more extraordinary week. The people, the place, the food, the ambience. You put it all together; thank you!NYC, NY, USA
Another wonderful experience. Our two trips have been so different except for your dedication to detail and your ability to research and find the best.Vancouver, BC, Canada
Once again you have given us an experience that’s unforgettable and incomparable. Kerala is a beautiful place, and the people even more so. As always you pulled together a lovely team to support us all. Thanks so much!Vancouver, BC, Canada
Myanmar’s Mergui has touched my soul in a very special way. Thank you for the spectacular time, and the unforgettable places – such serenity is not found anywhere else in the world.Gig Habour, WA, USA
Thank you for the most beautiful trip of my life! The stunning beauty of Mergui is beyond compare. Spectacular sunsets and moonrises, stunning white beaches, dolphins playing in our wake and endless laughter with new friends.University Place, WA, USA
We had a wonderful time. First class all the way. This is a beautiful country, the food is excellent, and the people are so friendly. Thank you for making this one of our best vacations ever.Vancouver, BC, Canada