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Diving in Myanmar (Burma)

Only open to tourism since 1997, Myanmar offers a glimpse into unspoilt reefs and undiscovered territory. Big fish sightings and rare macro life reward divers who venture into this remote destination.

Diving in Myanmar (Burma)

Quick facts

Unexplored Myanmar already has a plethora of dive sites with more just waiting to be discovered. The currently mapped sites are spread out mostly up and down the southwest coast which is home to the Mergui Archipelago. Further west of the archipelago, lie a series of open ocean dive sites which feature larger marine life. Whatever your dive experience, you are sure to find a site to satisfy the explorer in you.

With more than 800 islands, Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago is home to some of southeast Asia’s best diving. While the south area of the archipelago has recently suffered from overfishing and shark finning, the northern half remains untouched. Dive masters are still discovering everything the area has to offer, but you can expect healthy corals, schools of devil rays and the occasional whale or nurse shark. The small stuff is turning heads too. Frogfish, lobsters, crabs and colorful shrimp create a macro-lover’s dream.

Further west of the Mergui Archipelago, sites like the Burma Banks offer a different picture of what Myanmar has on offer. What may look like small 49 foot (15 meter), flat-top mountains on the surface, are actually giant mountains that plunge 1000 feet (300 meters) to the sea floor. Shark sightings are all but guaranteed on these open ocean dives. Nurse sharks are frequently seen with a few reef sharks thrown in here and there. Burma Banks is definitely the place to go if you love to see pelagic species.

While Myanmar’s dive sites are just opening up, their popularity is growing too. Do yourself a favor and get to this beautiful and unspoilt region before the crowds do.

When to go

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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USD 526Per trip
USD 556Per trip
USD 2,040Per trip

What to see

Visitors to Myanmar can expect everything from big fish action to rare macro interactions.

On the larger end of the spectrum, nurse sharks, armies of barracuda, devil rays and reef sharks are commonly seen. Whale sharks and manta rays may make an appearance when the plankton blooms are in full swing.

While the number of pelagic species in Myanmar is impressive, the region has recently gained fame as a destination for macro life. Multi-colored shrimp, crabs, lobsters, nudibranchs, ghost pipefish and frogfish enjoy the unhurried life of Myanmar’s waters.

Whichever area your liveaboard visits, you are sure to have some unusual creatures donning the pages of your log book at the end of the trip.

Calendar

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Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

Country

Myanmar, also known as Burma, occupies the very north end of the Malay Peninsula, bordering Thailand to its north and China, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Laos to the south. The tropical climate includes two monsoon seasons. From October to May, the seas are calm and the sky is clear. June to September brings windier weather and rain. During this season, liveaboards to the area do not operate. Water temperatures vary between 79-86°F (26-30℃) while air temperatures range from 77-95°F (25-35℃).

After being occupied by the British and the Japanese, the Republic of Myanmar gained independence in 1948. A coup d'etat in 1962 sent the newly formed country into a military dictatorship. Burma subsequently suffered from ethnic strife and poverty. In 2011, new elections were held and democracy returned. Today, the Republic of Myanmar is a democratic and stable country although conflict remains in certain areas. Check local regulations on tourist travel before planning your trip.

Myanmar’s west coast borders the Andaman Sea and contains the country’s only dive sites. While more areas are certain to be discovered soon, for now, the only dive sites are located in the Mergui Archipelago and immediately to its west. Currently, there are no individual operators or guesthouses on any of these unspoilt islands. The only way to dive in the area is to use a liveaboard. Some liveaboards will split their time between Thailand and Myanmar or only visit a small part of the archipelago. Our recommendation is to take at least a 10-day cruise in order to visit some of the best sites Myanmar has to offer.

Liveaboards only operate in the area from October to May with the best diving from December to April. Because of the remoteness of the Mergui Archipelago, you can expect uncrowded dive sites throughout the diving season. However, try to avoid major holidays such as Christmas, New Year and Easter in order to get the best liveaboard rates.

Other attractions

It’s safe to say that most visitors to Myanmar don’t dive its waters. Instead, they arrive for the great variety of above the water activities. If you manage to do both, you’ll find yourself falling in love with this spectacular destination. Yangon and Mandalay are home to temples, historical landmarks and popular culture. It’s here that you can find the best food and learn about the country’s tumultuous history at the same time. Visitors may also enjoy cruising on placid Inle Lake or taking a day or three to explore the ancient and scenic ruins of Bagan. For the more adventurous, a few days trekking in the highlands of Hsipaw or around Inle Lake might fit into the agenda. Diving may be the reason you come to Myanmar, but a day exploring undiscovered places full of smiling and helpful locals will also be a cherished memory for years to come.

Getting there

Yangon International Airport is the major hub for all international flights entering or exiting Myanmar. However, reaching the Mergui Archipelago from Yangon requires either a local flight on an infrequent service or two to three days of bus journeys.

To remedy this problem, most liveaboards with destinations in Myanmar leave from Ranong, Thailand. This city can be easily accessed from either Bangkok or Phuket, both of which have international airports of their own. Frequent bus services and taxis ply the route to Ranong from most of Thailand’s tourist destinations.

UTC+06:30

Time zone

MMK

Currency

+95

Calling code

230 V

Electric volt

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B, 

C, 

D, 

F, 

G

Plug type

RGN

Main airport
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