Myanmar’s long coastline on the Indian Ocean stretching from about 29 north gives haven to many lovely beaches which nestle along the shores of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Many are as yet "undiscovered" by tourists; unspoilt by over development they are only now being opened up as little havens of peace and quiet. The long coastline of 1,385 miles, or about 2,000 kilometres, goes through about 20 of latitudes from tropical to cooler climates. Most of the coast face west giving spectacular views at sunset. One of the most recent beach resorts to be developed for tourists and local visitors is aptly named Kanthayar, or Pleasant Beach Resort. It is located in the Rakkhine (Arakan) State about 16 miles north of the small town of Gwa.
Like its more famous neighbouring beach resort of Ngapali 65 miles farther north Kanthayar was developed with the initiative and active co-operation and help of the Tatmadaw, the Myanmar army. Ngapali was transformed from a quiet fishing village to a popular beach resort during the military Caretaker Government Period of the late 1950’s. Kanthayar was "found" and named for development on the initiative of the Commander of the Western Command whose Headquarters are at Sittwe (Akyab) farther north on the same coast.
Kanthayar Beach Resort was officially opened on 24th March 1995 by Lt-Gen. Tin Oo, Secretary (2) of the then State Law and Order Restoration Council, to mark the Golden Jubilee of the Armed Forces Day which falls each year on 27th March. The beach resort was opened three days ahead as one of the main events to commemorate the Golden Jubilee.
How to Get There
The most convenient way to get to Kanthayar is by car from Yangon. The road from Yangon goes across the new Bayinnaung Bridge in West Yangon to the new town of Hlaing Thayar and from there it is only about an hour’s drive to Nyaungdon where you have to cross the main Ayeyawady River by Z-craft, car ferry, taking about 45 minutes. The third bridge across the Ayeyawady called Bo Myat Tun Bridge, connecting Nyaungdon and Setkaw is now being built and will be completed towards the end of 1998 cutting down the travel time and making it much more convenient to visit the towns on the Ayeyawady Delta as well as the Rakkhine Coast where Kanthaya is located.
From Setkaw on the west bank of the Ayeyawady River, the road goes through the flourishing deltaic towns of Pantanaw, the birthplace of the late UN Secretary-General U Thant, Kyaung-gon and Ye Kyi, and across the bridge spanning the Nga Wun or Pathein (Bassein) River at Nga- thaing Gyaung. Soon after leaving Nga-thaing Gyaung the road climbs across the southern end of the Rakkhine Yoma ridge of hills for about 47 miles till it goes down to the coastal town and fishing centre of Gwa in Rakkhine State. From Gwa the road is along the lovely coast between the sea and the ridge of hills, northwards for about half an hour till Kanthayar is reached.
Altogether it is about 125 miles from Yangon to Kanthayar, and the road is fairly good as it is being upgraded each year. If you do not have to wait for the car ferry, the total travelling time by road is only about six hours; the road passes rice fields, orchards and tropical bamboo forests, going through peaceful, pleasant villages all along the way. The scenery changes from low paddy land, lakes and rivers to hills and forests and finally to the blue ocean and sandy beaches, some lined with small islands.
For the more adventurous there is an alternative route to get to Kanthayar, combining it with a visit to the popular seaside resort of Ngapali. From Yangon you can go to Thandwe or Sandoway airport by jet in about half an hour and from there hire a car to get to Kanthayar, a three hour-drive on roads all along the coast.