The thousands of visitors who stream through Thandwe (formerly known as Sandoway) each winter en route to Ngapali rarely see more of the town than its airport. But it is well worth jumping in a taxi or pick- up truck for the 45-minute drive from Ngapali to visit Thandwe’s bustling market, located in a former British jail. People from the surrounding villages pack the covered area from around 7am to shop for fresh produce, textiles, and a typically Burmese array of hard- ware. Souvenirs are also on sale.
On the surrounding hilltops are three gilded stupas offering great views over the town and nearby coast. A brisk 20-minute walk west of the mar ket, the largest, Nandaw Pagoda, dates from the late 8th century and is said to have been erected by King Minbra to enshrine a bone relic of the Buddha. Sandaw Pagoda is believed to house a hair of the Buddha, and Andaw Pagoda a tooth relic.
In October 2013, communal violence from farther north in Rakhine State spread as far south as Thandwe, but the area has stabilized and there are currently no travel restrictions.