Kawthaung is located in the south of Myanmar, close to the Thai border town of Ranong, you’ll find the small town of Kawthaung. Popular with those carrying out Thai visa runs, those who are traveling between the two countries and more intrepid travellers seeking to see as much of Myanmar as possible, there are several reasons this is a good place to visit.
It might not be the most visually impressive of areas to spend time in Myanmar, but it’s a multicultural town to explore with points of interest including nearby waterfalls and beaches. Maliwan waterfall is a popular destination, and is definitely worth seeing if you’re in the area.
If you’re looking for some culture then as with most Myanmar towns you’ll find that there are several picturesque pagodas that you can spend some time exploring.
Other places and activities in Kawthaung that are popular with tourists and travellers include visiting the well-known Andaman Club Resort Hotel, which is famous for its casino and is the only place you can gamble on this side of Myanmar.
Tourism off the coast is starting to develop and grow faster, meaning there is more availability for boat trips, including those that offer diving and snorkelling excursions. With tourism in its infancy do be very careful about safety standards and make sure you’re comfortable with any equipment.
When to go to Kawthaung
Kawthaung benefits from a climate that is hot all year round, although there is a defined wet season between April and November, the same as much of the rest of the country.
With its location at Myanmar’s southernmost point and as it’s situated near the coast, the impact of monsoon season is felt strongly here. Expect many days of torrential rain in the months of May to September in particular, which may not be a great time to visit the area.
Getting around in Kawthaung
The easiest way to travel around the town is either on foot, or by motorbike taxi. There are many of these taxis available and costs less than a dollar for most short journeys that are taken.
Where to eat in Kawthaung
The situation with food and restaurant options is similar, although the benefits of being in a less touristy area are that prices are usually very low.
There are one or two places with English menus and western food options, but for the most part you’ll be enjoying traditional Burmese cuisine. As well as the tasty curries on offer, there is some Thai inspired food as you might expect from a town so close to the border and this is always a popular option with travellers in the area.
How to get to Kawthaung ?
If you are looking at the 14- or 36-hour land journey to Myeik and Yangon respectively, you can
see why the flight option is a tempting one. KBZ and APEX, the two airlines servicing
Kawthaung, will not be upset about the suspension of boat services. Services by the two
carriers are similar and both, as far as we know, use ATR prop planes. APEX do manage to
undercut KBZ on every single flight in south Burma though. They offer daily flights to Myeik.
KBZ fly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Flight schedules and prices change frequently so
please check before you buy it.
Most hotel staff can book seats for you plus several agents are dotted around the centre of
town. Both airlines have offices on Bogyoke Road. Kawthaung’s airport code is KAW and the
airport is situated 11 kilometres north of town.
There’s only one road out of town and that’s a 440-kilometre one leading to Myeik. Regular
buses depart from Kawthaung bus station, just a couple of kilometres north on Bogyoke Road,
while minibus services leave from town and will pick up at hotels. You can purchase tickets for
Myeik, Dawei, Ye, Mawlamyine and even Yangon, a 36-hour ride away.
If you plan to enter Myanmar from Thailand, you have to cross the border river separating the
two countries. Most people choose this route and it’s really very easy. Here’s a short step-by-step guide.
1) Drive from Ranong Airport to the pier from which boats leave for Kawthaung, it takes
about 30 minutes and costs approximately 500 Baht.
2) Border Checkpoint
First you have to go through Thai emigration and border control, just to your right inside the
border checkpoint area. Right in front of the emigration area is the longtail boat pier, and the
boats there are the only means of transport to Kawthaung. If you rent a boat for yourself, the
trip across the river will cost 400 to 500 Thai Baht. You can also hop onto a regular join-in
longtail, in which case the fee should be about 50 Baht per person.
3) Crossing the River between Thailand and Myanmar takes 30 to 45 minutes. There are two
more checkpoints along the way where the driver has to show your passport to customs
officers. Usually you won‘t have to get off the boat.
4) Arriving in Kawthaung, Myanmar
The longtail boats from Thailand arrive about 30-40 metres away from the Myanmar
Immigration Pier (Myo Ma Jetty). Walk along the road until you see the sign that says ”Warmly
Welcome and Take Care of Tourists”. The small building on the right hand side is the border
control by Myo Ma Jetty.
Other boat services
Longtail boats to Thailand wait at the main jetty and take around 30 minutes, costing 100 baht
per person. They arrive at Saphan Pla immigration point in Ranong.
If you fancy a flutter there are also regular boats leaving for the nearby Andaman Club.