If you're travelling cheap, brace yourself for Ngapali. The one-time budget scene is gone, and potentially cheap, haggard guesthouses around the Thandwe junction are overpriced or unlicensed for foreigners. The 'Top End' here covers rooms for $100 and over.
If you're travelling in high season - when nearly all Ngapali visitors come - note that many hotels are booked out (sometimes way in advance); call ahead.
All hotels here offer free airport transfer and breakfast.
These hotels keep their generators on from roughly 6pm to midnight, then an hour or so in the morning.
Lin Thar Oo Lodge : Those looking for private decks facing the sea for not too much have an easy answer: Lin Thar Oo's shady 270yd strip of 41 bungalows on the beach's north stretch. Best of the confusing array of price levels are the two $45 bungalows (with air-con and TV) or the six $30 fan-cooled bungalows - both come with hot water. The cheapest are in an unappealing motel-style strip away from the water. The beach here is a little rocky but there is plenty of room to use the hotel's innertubes.
Royal Beach Motel : Near the south end of the beach, the Royal is an excellent midranger that feels a bit more cosy and personable than the others. The complex's wood-floor rooms have lounge chairs on the deck, a bell 'doorbell' for when staff bring a bucket of hot water, and a great restaurant, where the free breakfast buffet's served. Unlike most hotels, it's set a bit back from the beach, with a forest of palms providing easy-breezy day-round shade. Higher-priced rooms face the water.
Pleasant View Resort :At 12 rooms, 'resort' is a stretch, and it's situated just as the palms start to thin out at the beach's south end, but the higher-priced duplex bungalows get some high-end style (ie glass-ceiling bathrooms, satellite TV, lush woodwork) for a lot less. It was just opening when we came by: the $40 room was a bit thrown together, and the generator wasn't yet clicked-on all day, but the restaurant was already super.
Laguna Lodge : For a 'house on the beach' feel, the six-room Laguna goes rustic (with dark-wood, open-shuttered windows - meaning mosquitoes later on). By far the best is upstairs No 1 – with a sunken bed area facing the water. It's open from mid-October to May.
Ngapali Beach Hotel : This former government-run hotel (leased to private operators since 1999) has noticed the style of incoming resorts, and half tried to keep up, adding wood floors, lush gardens and some local decor - but it still comes off a bit stiff.
Silver Beach Hotel : At the beach's north end, Silver Beach is the cheapest way to go for 24-hour electricity and air-con. At first, things look appealing, but the awkward layouts have zero style for the price.
These hotels are designed to compete as international resorts' with the best in Thailand. Debate for best remains between Amata and Sandoway. All have 24-hour generators for electricity.
Bayview Beach Resort : This luxurious German-Myanmar joint venture occupies a nice strip of beach, with a rare on-the-beach bar. The 33 swank bungalows have an inviting, basic layout - with peach-coloured bedspreads and four lounge chairs on the private deck. There are windsurfers, kayaks and catamarans to use.
Amata Resort & Spa ; Owned by a Yangon entrepreneur, this swish complex of gorgeous two-storey cabanas (the cottage is a steal compared to the sea-view villa cost) is reached by a long open-air hallway that looks like a giant inverted Viking ship (you have to see it) and pool sandwiched between the bar and beach. Ngapali's lone tennis court is next to the 'cybercafe'.
Sandoway Resort ; Lushly shaded in palms, with evocative walkways leading past gardens and ponds (and a lizard or two), this Italian-Myanmar joint venture is one part villa, one part cottage 'resort'. Two-storey bungalows are lovely, with lofty ceilings and round-stone 'ottomans' before a sea-facing sofa. You get no TV, but there's a massive screening room with padded armchairs for movies. A mezzanine library is above a bar, next to a giant pool. Supposedly wifi access will be available before you arrive too.
Aureum Palace welcomes some tour groups, but isn't recommended as it's owned by Tay Za. Also, some tour groups check into the nice, privately run Amazing Ngapali Resort, but it's on a less appealing beach near the airport.
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