Meet off-the-beaten path.

A fantastic little town, charming Ye is a delightful and seriously off-the-beaten path destination — it was completely off-limits to any foreigners from independence until late 2013. If anywhere fits the travel writing cliche ‘hidden’, then it’s probably Ye. The coast is on one side and hills on the other, with just a tiny trickle of adventurous tourists coming through. It has good accommodation, great restaurants and even some nightlife — what are you waiting for?

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Located just over the Tanintharyi border in southern Mon State, Ye (pronounced yay) is the area’s administrative and commercial centre. Due to many years of fighting between government and both Mon and Karen forces, the whole region between Dawei and Thanbyuzayat (south of Mawlamyine) was out of bounds for foreigners until peace accords were signed in 2013 and the area judged to be safe. No visitors of any kind had been here since 1947 — how hidden is that to outsiders?

The amazing Banana Mountain. : Mark Ord.
The amazing Banana Mountain. Photo: Mark Ord

Some interior areas are still sensitive and forbidden, but foreigners are now free to travel the highway between Ye and towns north and south, and also to visit the surrounding area. We saw practically no police or military checkpoints, we didn’t have to show our passport once and we were free to hire a motorbike and cruise around the countryside at will. Stunned but clearly happy locals still gawp in amazement and it’s difficult for a tourist to comprehend the enormity for them of these very recent changes. Unless they’ve travelled to, say, Yangon then no one here under the age of 70 would have ever seen a ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 500 words.)

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