This is a beautiful locale. The hotel is on a bay facing an island and reef in the Indian Ocean. The sea water appears fairly clean, the temperature refreshing, a few degrees below ambients, which right now (November) are moderate, perhaps low 30s C. There was an on-and-off breeze that helps with the heat.
This area is fairly recently opened to Westerners, and we are certainly a small minority of guests in the area. Other guests would seem to be well-off Burmese, Chinese and other Asians of various nationalities. English is very limited.
We booked an ocean-view villa, and it was that. We overlooked the beach through coconuts and landscaped walks and gardens. The hotel's stretch of beach is kept clean without beach businesses except a few hawkers, who are not overly persistent.
Bad pop music, loudly amplified, is a negative feature of this resort. The sources are mostly outside the premises, but can start as early as 7:30 AM, and the karaoke runs well into the evening. Hawkers sell fireworks on the beach, so every night is fireworks night, and the locals can get a bit rowdy and drunk.. This is a place where the local liquor, ounce for ounce, costs the same as beer - opiate of the masses and all. Overall, not entirely a "peace and quiet" place, but not unpleasant.
The rooms are not new, but the facilities are adequate and clean. One thing to note is that there is no grid electricity (if there is a grid at all) from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. The complex is wired to allow the hotel to power up the water heater and AC at siesta time, presumably from a generator. Our bed was a queen mattress on a king bed frame. It was short-sheeted - they seem to have used a twin sheet sideways, which means your feet are touching a rough blanket not often washed. Rugs are rolled up and replaced rather than cleaned in-room, I guess because there is no room power for a vacuum cleaner.
There is a wireless hotspot near reception but it is extremely slow, barely usable for e-mail. TV is minimal, with a couple of movie channels showing films well, well down the movie food chain.
Do not come here without a big supply of insect repellent. The sand fleas are numerous and voracious and will follow you into your room and bed. Mosquitoes and nasty biting spiders are also hard at work, and this is considered a malaria risk area. The hotel sprays the bed, but this is inadequate. We saw no repellent on sale in town - you need the kind you can spray on your clothes as well as skin. You can buy mosquito coils however - we used them on our porch, they keep the fleas away quite well.
We ate supper our first night at the hotel. It was decent but unremarkable and fairly expensive. Breakfast was a different story - it was truly awful. There was power for a toaster and coffee warmer, and fans on some days, but they are mostly ill-used. "Toast" is barely-warmed bread. Coffee and tea were luke-warm at best.
The breakfast food probably came out of the kitchen as decent stuff but is grossly mishandled thereafter. The buffet is served in a mock dug-out boat. The food is transferred to the usual steam-tables, but there are no lids and no water or heat under them, so everything, including congee and soups, is dead cold, and anything starchy like noodles becomes a glutinous mass. The egg station makes fried eggs in advance, so they, too, are cold. Much of the buffet food sits out uncovered so long as to be inedible, cold or hot. The whole thing is quite disgraceful, any competent food service manager would be ashamed.
The one saving grace is a big ceramic crock of mohinga, that wonderful Burmese fish soup/breakfast noodle dish. They have enough respect for this to keep at least that one pot covered and warm over what is, I presume, a traditional smoldering wood fire, and it kept us fed for mornings for the most part.
The beach thing is all there is to do here. There is a small town, but it offers nothing more than a few restaurants, a bar or two, and dried fish or trinket stands. We found a bar that serves cheap (and surprisingly cold) draft beer later in the day. Beyond that, it's the beach or pool. I must say, the beach hawkers have come up with a top-shelf goofy beach hat to sell, but it's not one you'd want to wear on the plane home, unless you are extrovert in extremis.
The road from Yangon deserves special mention. All Myanmar roads we've seen outside central Yangon are terrible, the newest ones often being the worst, because someone has thought it a good idea to build with asphalt over broken concrete or stone (hand-broken, that is) covered with sand - the sand sinks, the stones push up through the asphalt, and all that wasted effort produces an instant disaster of a roadway.
From Yangon out the road is bone-jarring, and it degenerates past Pathein into a one-lane paved logging road, snaking in dangerous blind switch-backs through low mountains, which themselves are very beautiful, where not logged out. The trip takes 6-7 hours.
This road is unpleasant but tolerable in a full-size highway coach, provided it still has its suspension, but in a mid-size or smaller bus it is simply brutal, not recommended at all if you have back trouble or are otherwise physically limited, and people will be sitting and standing on your luggage all the way. Don't let your agent lie you onto the smaller bus, as she did for half of our trip. Many of the guests did not look like they would tolerate a instant's inconvenience to get to Chaung Tha, so that's a bit of a mystery. A private car would probably be a worse ride. You have choices of daytime or overnight bus, but I can't see anyone sleeping on an overnight bus, the road is far too rough.
We booked four nights, at least one too many for us as we're not really beach people. The trouble is, a couple of nights at the beach would come at the cost of two very uncomfortable days on the bus. We don't regret the experience, but would not likely come back.
An interesting sideline is the current (November) Buddhist fund-raising drive, apparently all over the country as we were hit up many times in Yangon and the aluminum collection pots were at every slow-down on the road to Chaung Tha and back. It's like a giant PBS beg-a-thon.
In Chaung Tha the campaign ranged from drear money-collecting carts with unspeakably loud and very, very cheesy pop music. Better are the ones that try to entertain, so it's more like busking. There were dressed-up motorized floats, some with dudes in monster costumes dancing and mugging, some in papier-mache all-body creations. Best of all was a hilarious guy in drag leading, quite skillfully, a troupe of pop-dancing children while doing a humorousy lascivious dance bit, compete with flashing "breast" regularly from his kleenex-stuffed dress top. Left us with at least one really good laugh from Chaung Tha.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to Amazing Chaung Tha Resort Timeless sophistication and the ultimate in relaxation, Amazing Chaung Tha Resort features beautifully decorated villas with scenic garden that is set on the tranquil part of Chaung Tha beach. Have an escape from busy town and get a glimpse of paradise at the hotel where utmost services and facilities are waiting for you. Play tennis, hit karaoke and swim in the infinity edge pool, or simply unwind at Spa Thukha with a range of renowned signature treatments. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Amazing Chaung Tha Resort Myanmar/Chaungtha