Dive Into this Paradise on Earth With More Underwater Species than Anywhere
Our Expert Opinion
Mystical, primitive in the most lovely sense of the word, undiscovered and remote, this is a destination for those seeking premier snorkeling and diving and appreciate the vibrant local culture that lives quite simply.
Having a total area of 261,228 sq. miles (676,578 sq km.), Myanmar, also known as Burma, is located in southeast Asia. It is the 40th largest nation in the world, sharing land borders with Bangladesh, Lao People's Democratic Republic, India, Thailand & China.
The first unified state of Burma (as Myanmar was earlier called) was found in 1057 at Pagan by King Anawrahta, who introduced Theravada Buddhism to the region. His successors mismanaged the wealth of the kingdom, and Burma failed to prosper. After Kublai Khan's invasion in 1287, it headed into the dark ages.
Stability in the region returned only in 1531, when the Toungoo dynasty reunited the country with Portuguese help – which later proved costly, as it paved the way for European entry into the country. In three moves – 1824, 1852 and 1885, all of Burma, which was then a part of India, was in British control. In 1937, Britain made Burma a crown colony by separating it from India.
Although British occupancy helped in developing Burma, the locals were unhappy with the colonial rule. Nationalist movements began in the country, headed by Buddhist monks, which included the likes of U Ottama and U Wizaya. Around that time, the Burmese Independence Army (BIA) was also formed, with the intention to remove the British from the country.
After the Second World War started, the BIA partnered with Japan for its cause. Japanese troops entered Burma and subdued the British, but Japanese presence in the country gradually took the shape of an invasion. Consequently, Burma became a bloody battleground, resisting both the Japanese and the British. After the World War II ended, with heavy casualties on all sides, Burma limped back to normalcy, finally gaining independence in 1948.
Civil war and unrest ensued for decades under various military rulers and resulted in it becoming one of the least developed nations in the world. 2016 saw the election of the first non-military President since 1962. Over the past five years, tourism has grown immensely yet Myanmar has retained its “off the beaten track” ambiance.
Sorong Airport, also known as Dominique Edward Osok Airport, in Sorong (West Papua) is the main port of entry. Connecting flights are available from the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Best Time to Go
Raja Ampat is an 'anytime' travel destination. The climate and underwater conditions remain good throughout the year. October to April is the dry season and the time that most of our yachts are available for charter here.
Local Customs to Observe
The local people are friendly and welcoming. An appropriate dress code is important in Raja Ampat. It is offensive to wander the streets in swimming costumes. While visiting villages, a minimum of t-shirt and shorts (at least knee-length) must be worn.
Helpful Fast Facts
Currency: Indonesian Rupiah.
Time Zone: Indonesia Eastern Time Zone (UTC+09:00).
Local language: Bahasa Indonesia and Raja Ampat-South Halmahera languages are used in day to day conversation. English is also widely spoken along the coast and by those engaged in the hospitality industry.
Airport: Dominique Edward Osok Airport (SOQ) in Sorong, West Papua, Indonesia.
Entry Requirements: All nationals require a valid passport to enter Raja Ampat. A 30-day non extendable visa is issued upon arrival to citizens of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the US. A 60-day (non extendable) visa can also be applied from the home country. Onward or return tickets are a must.
Departure tax: Rp150,000.
Legal Drinking Age: 21 years.
Smoking Regulations: Smoking is forbidden in all enclosed and public spaces.
Staying in touch: Mobile network coverage is variable; ask about your yacht’s satellite capabilities.
Medical Information: Waisai Central Hospital in Waisai city and Rumah Sakit Umum Daerah (RSUD) Hospital in Sorong are the premier medical establishments. They are fully-equipped with well-trained staff and medical facilities.
Public Holidays: Jan 1 - New Year's Day; Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Sunday & Monday; June 13 - Queen's Birthday; July 23 - National Remembrance Day; August 26 - National Day of Repentance; September 16 - Independence Day; December 25 - Christmas Day; December 26 - Boxing Day.
Tourist Office: Visit http://indonesia.travel/en/destination/248/raja-ampat for further information on Raja Ampat dive sites, accommodation, tourism, attractions and more.
Shopping Information: Raja Ampat is famous for its souvenirs, Asmat sculptures, Tambur (traditional drum), Suling (traditional flute), plaited handicrafts and traditional fabrics. Duty-free shopping can be enjoyed at the shops in the Sorong airport. Don't forget to confirm the allowed purchase limit per person.
Top Ten "Must Do's"
Scuba dive or snorkel in the marine wonderland of Sorong
Enjoy free diving and snorkelling on Manta Sandy
Take a heart-pumping hike on Batanta Island
Snorkel with barracudas, sharks, wobbegongs, and parrotfish at Wayag Lagoon
Catch a glimpse of the Bird Paradise
Enjoy the vistas of the volcanic hills and dense rain forests on Kofiau
Kayak along The Blue Water Mangroves
Traverse the hidden limestone caves at Tomolol
Discover the gleaming underwater gems on Mioskon Island
Explore the spectacular uninhabited islands on Alyui Bay
Experience a unique and rich underwater life on Misool
Wake up early and watch the multi-hued sunrise at Sorong
Major Local and Regional Events
RAJA AMPAT FESTIVAL (October) – celebrated with cultural performances, underwater photography seminars, photo competitions, traditional dances and parades.
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