The locals call the city “Beik” and sometimes by its old name, “Mergui.” Now called Myeik, the city has been an important port in the region for over 500 years because of its position on the peninsula extending into the Andaman Sea.
It’s said that, in the 16th century, Portuguese traders were the first to visit Myeik. Another city of contention between the Kingdoms of Siam (Thailand) and Burma, the city was re-conquered by the Burmese King Alaungpaya in the late 18th century. The British Empire was so drawn to its utility and splendor that, along with Sittwe, Myeik was among the first Myanmar cities to join the British Empire. The British ruled over it for a little more than 120 years, between 1826 and 1948. Today, Myeik has one of the best collections of colonial-era buildings in the region.
The largest city in the Tanintharyi Division, Myeik’s harbor is always bustling and energetic with activity. Hundreds of fishing boats of various sizes arrive and depart from Myeik’s port to work in the beautiful and vast Myeik Archipelago. And even though Myeik itself does not have any beaches on its coastline, the breathtaking Mergui Archipelago, and its 800 islands, is a boat ride away.
To access the islands in the archipelago, which run out to the south and west, visitors must pre-arrange cruises, which sail from Kawthaung. However, there are some close-by islands, like Myeik Island, which foreigners can visit without a permit by talking to the local fishermen for passage.
To get to Myeik, visitors can now pick between air, road, and sea connections from Yangon, Dawei, and Kawthaung. There is even a passage called the Singkhorn Pass, or Maw-daung Pass, that allows visitors to travel between Thailand and Myanmar (Prachuap Khiri Khan to Maw Daung). Currently is it only open for nationals of Thailand and Myanmar.
The Strand Road and Attractions in the City
Sharing the same name as the famed thoroughfare in Yangon, Strand Road, or Kannar Road or Kanna Lan in Burmese, is a waterfront road on the west coat of Myeik that is a perfect location to start any exploration of Myeik. Because it’s near the jetty, the boats that arrive from Dawei or Kawthaung will drop you onto Strand Road. Instead of downtown or the city center, this road is where everything happens. From here you can watch the fishermen come in on their boats, bringing in their catch of the day. You can also visit the night market on the southern end of the Strand Road or the delicious Shwe Yar Su Restaurant on the northern end, offering great Chinese food, fresh seafood, and an exciting atmosphere.
Farther away from the Strand Road, on a hill towards the center of Myeik, is the Theindawgyi Pagoda, sometimes spelled Thein Daw Gyi. The pagoda’s higher elevation offers great panoramic views for visitors to look out across the town and into the harbor. For those up for a 20-minute walk from Theindawgyi Pagoda, visitors can find a lot of the remarkable colonial buildings in Myeik. From the pagoda, walking north along Bogyoke Road until Mingalar Lake, travelers will find another market, the clock tower, charming colonial buildings, and even a fire station with old fire trucks.
Pataw Padet Island
Pataw Padet Island, or Pataw Padet Kyun in Burmese, is the closest island to Myeik, only 500 meters across the water. For around 25,000 Kyat you can hire a fishing boat to circumnavigate the island. During the boat journey, travelers will have the opportunity to see the interesting variety of birds that live on the island, from cranes to large birds of prey. Along the island’s southern end, there is a hilltop pagoda, monastery, and reclining Buddha.
The large reclining Buddha on Pataw Padet Island is hollow, allowing visitors to visit the hundreds of small, pink Buddhas lining the interior. Just north of the reclining Buddha is the monastery. It’s only through the monastery that visitors can access the hilltop pagoda, which offers panoramic views of Myeik across the narrow water divide and of the islands of the Mergui Archipelago farther out in the Andaman Sea.