Burma is the largest country by geographical area in mainland Southeast Asia, or Indochina. The country is bordered by the People's Republic of China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, and the Bay of Bengal to the southwest with the Gulf of Martaban and Andaman Sea defining its southern periphery.
Burma (or Myanmar) offers pristine and untouched dive sites and with over 800 islands covering some 12,000 square kilometres its islolation makes it one of the worlds true frontier diving destinations. The Burmese government have recently opened up the Mergui Archipelago to outside visitors and it is now rapidly becoming one of the premier places on the planet to go diving. With a rich and diverse marine ecosystem untouched by tourism and left in isolation for many years it can offer some amazing surprises. Sharks, mantas and big pelagics coupled with stunning visibility are all common here; in fact there is far more marine diversity here than in neighbouring Thailand.
Most of the vessels visiting Burmese waters originate from Thailand, either Ranong or Phuket. They are all liveaboards as day trips are impractical due to the distances needed to travel between dive sites. There is always something exciting happening when diving in Burma, you never know what is out there.
Burma Banks - The Burma Banks are a series of submerged sea mounts in remote waters around 180km northwest of the Similans. Their name derives from the fact that they lie within the Exclusive Economic Zone of Burma. While there is good hard coral growth here, this is not the main attraction, big animals are what divers are looking for when they travel this far out into the ocean. Waters surrounding the Banks drop to 350 metres deep and they are considered one of the best places in the world to dive with sharks. With local populations of silvertip and nurse sharks that are not afraid of divers sightings are pretty much guaraunteed.
Mergui Archpelago -The Mergui Archipelago consists of over 800 islands, some of them the size of Singapore or Phuket and most of them uninhabited, the only dwellers on these waters are a few local sea gypsies. Despite the government's pressure to protect the archipelago, evidence of dynamite fishing can still be found. However, the authorities have finally awoken to the power of the tourist dollar and have consequently outlawed dynamite and shark fishing in the area. There is also an entrance fee to the area and all boats enter and depart via Kawthaung (Ko Song or Victoria Point are other names for it), just west of Ranong, Thailand.
- October to May sees the main Burma diving season. For optimum diving conditions in the Mergui Archipelago we recommend you visit between the months of December and April. February to May tend to witness the most frequent manta ray and whale shark sightings.
- Burma is ruled by a military junta which suppresses almost all dissent and wields absolute power in the face of international condemnation and sanctions. The generals and the army stand accused of gross human rights abuses, including the forcible relocation of civilians and the widespread use of forced labour, which includes children. [Source: www.bbc.co.uk]
|Currency:||Kyat although UK$ widely accepted|
|Natural hazards:||Destructive earthquakes and cyclones; flooding and landslides common during rainy season (June to September)|
|Diving season:||October to May|
|Water temperature:||25 - 28C|