Burma holiday, Islands and Sea Gypsies

“Burma's southern regions offer an unforgettably different insight into this SE Asian beauty, including a chance to sail through the wondrous 800-strong Mergui Archipelago.”


Yangon | Hpa An | Mawlamyaing | Bilu Island | Dawei | Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery | Mergui archipelago | Kawthaung | coral reefs, deserted beaches, pristine jungle

Description of Burma holiday, Islands and Sea Gypsies

While most first-time visitors to Burma head north from Yangon to the much acclaimed sights of Mandalay, Bagan and Lake Inle, this tour heads south to provide insight into a very different Burma – a perfect SE Asian odyssey for those who prefer their adventures a little bit more off-piste.

On this epic journey, we’ll discover the cultural treasures and markets of Hpa An and the provincial Mon capital of Mawlamyaing, along with the rural charms of Bilu Island and the poignant WW2 cemetery at Thanbyuzayat, home to the graves of Allied POWs who died building the so-called Burma-Siam death railway.

From the remote southerly town of Myeik, you'll head out into the Andaman Sea on a charter boat for a 5-day journey through some of the stunning 800 islands that make up the tropical Mergui Archipelago – so numerous, many of them simply have numbers not names! Here, you are entering the fading world of the Moken - the so-called “Sea Gypsies”, a tribe of maritime hunter-gatherers who have made this region their home over the last 4000 years.

We’ll mingle with the isolated fishing communities who inhabit an area of Burma that was until recently almost impossible to gain the necessary permits to visit. But there will also be blissful downtime enjoying deserted white-sand island beaches, pristine forest and the hard and soft corals that ring Nga Man Island, through which nurse sharks glide serenely.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?


Check dates, prices & availability

18 Oct 2020
excluding flights
Click here to enquire about or book the 18 Oct 2020 departure
The currency converter above works on today’s interbank exchange rate. We do take bookings in a variety of currencies, but the rates are often set months in advance and may therefore differ from those shown above which are for guidance purposes only. Please enquire for details.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

We have a strict environmental policy to make sure that the environments we visit are not damaged or spoilt in any way. Our “Leave No Trace” ethic is applied to this trip and as tour operators, it is something we are careful to promote. Your guide on this trip will have been trained to uphold this policy and all clients are fully briefed on appropriate/responsible behaviour whilst in wilderness areas.

We are very aware of the economic, ecological and ethical impact tourism can have on ancient cultures and fragile environments. We realise that taking clients through this region can have a negative impact on the environment if not handled responsibly and as such, on all of our trips we go to great lengths to minimise the negative and accentuate the positive - after all, there are also many good things that the traveller can bring.

By keeping the group size to a maximum of 12, we can also minimise the human impact on the fragile sites we visit – particularly important as this trip visits some delicate ecosystems.

The Impacts of this Trip

We have always believed that we should run all our trips in as responsible a manner as possible and let our clients decide for themselves if they wish to visit a certain country or not. Up until recently, Myanmar (Burma) was accused of multiple human rights violations, the ruling military junta was thought to be beyond the pale, and an unofficial tourist boycott was in place. But at the end of last year, elections (albeit rigged ones) were held, the generals handed power to a ‘civilianised’ government and released Aung San Suu Kyi, the democratically elected leader, from house arrest. She then dropped her opposition to tourism, arguing that as long as it is done responsibly, tourism can be a positive stance for change. It is important to encourage tourism in Myanmar in the right way so that the local people, and not the corrupt and unelected government, make the most out of the presence of tourism. We feel that isolating Myanmar from the rest of the world gives the government carte blanche to operate in any way it chooses. By sending in more eyes and ears (in the form of tourists), the government becomes more accountable. Aung San Suu Kyi has recently made this same point.

In Myanmar, we have been especially careful to use privately owned hotels, and that all staff are private individuals. Great care is taken to make sure the hotels we use are not owned and run for the government’s own ends, or by their stooges, and are either owned by international chains or local businessmen, unaligned to the government. We will also be staying in local communities and in day 4 exploring the quaint villages on the island of Bilu, with the opportunity for people to purchase items from their wood workshops and directly benefit the local people. There is no question in our mind that by using local, independent guides, the positive aspects of the experience for the tourist are greatly increased, as they can arrange all manner of cultural exchanges. Through the purchasing of locally made handicrafts, fruits, and curiosities - which the guide encourages - in turn adds to the benefit of the local population. In addition the money paid to the local guide goes directly in their pockets and from them in to the local community.

It can be argued staying away leaves the country and its people more isolated and vulnerable. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit.


Popular similar holidays

Family holiday in Burma

Family holiday in Burma

A fabulous family holiday including the best of Burma

From £1500 - £2000 16 days excluding flights

Burma photography tour

Burma photography tour

Discover Burma with a professional travel photographer

From £2850 14 days excluding flights

Burma cultural holiday

Burma cultural holiday

Discover a side of Burma hidden beyond the tourist trail

From £2075 15 days excluding flights

Burma holidays, small group tour

Burma holidays, small group tour

The highlights of Burma visiting Rangoon, Bagan, Mandalay & Inle Lake

From £2349 - £2549 16 days including UK flights

Convert currencies