(Axel Boer) #1



For information on boats from Mawlamyine,
see p 101.

Bus & Pick-Up Truck
For information on getting to Hpa-an by bus from
Yangon, see p 70.
Hpa-an’s bus station is inconveniently located
about 4 miles north of the clock tower, but
tickets can be bought and buses boarded at a
few centrally located ticket stalls (clock tower).
Staff at Soe Brothers can also arrange tickets.
There are three daily buses to Yangon (K4000
to K8000, seven to eight hours) at 7am, 8am and
7pm, with stops in Kyaikto (four hours) and Bego
(six hours); even if you’re getting off in these towns
you’re expected to pay the full fare to Yangon.
To Mawlamyine (K1100, two hours), buses
leave the bus station every hour from 6am to
4pm. Every second bus makes a brief stop to
pick up passengers at a stand on Bogyoke St,
not far from the clock tower.
Pick-up trucks to Eindu (K700), which pass
Kaw Ka Thawng Cave and terminate part of
the way to Saddar Cave, depart from a stop on
Zaydan St. There’s also a single daily pick-up to
Mt Zwegabin (K1000, Monday to Friday) at 8am,
departing from the high school.

Around Hpa-an
The real highlights of the Hpa-an area are
all scattered about the divine rural country-
side out of town. While most of these sights
are accessible by public transport you will
need to devote several days to them and be
prepared to give your leg muscles a workout.
Therefore, almost everyone takes a motor-
bike (or motorised trishaw) tour organised
by the Soe Brothers Guesthouse, which cir-

cumnavigates Mt Zwegabin, stopping at all
the sights mentioned below. A full day tour
costs K30,000.
Some of the closer attractions can also be
explored by bicycle. Bikes can be rented at
Soe Brothers (K1500 per day), who have also
put together a good map of the surrounding
area and its attractions.

Mt Zwegabin LANDMARK
Hpa-an is hemmed in by a wrinkled chain of
limestone mountains. The tallest of these is
Mt Zwegabin, about 7 miles south of town,
which as well as being a respectable 2372ft
is also a home of spirits and saintly souls.
It’s a demanding two-hour hike to the
summit – up more steps than you’d care to
count – but once at the top the rewards are
staggering views, a small monastery and a
stupa containing, yes, you guessed it, anoth-
er hair from the Buddha. If you arrive at the
top before noon you can take advantage of a
complimentary lunch (rice, orange and tea)
and the 11am monkey feeding – diff erent
primates, diff erent menus.

Kaw Ka Thawng Cave CAVES
More popular among locals than travellers,
this compound actually consists of three
caves, only two of which are generally open to
the public. The fi rst cave you’ll come to, Kaw
Ka Thawng, has been quite gentrifi ed and
has a tile fl oor and numerous buddha statues.
Continuing along a path, you’ll pass the stair-
way to another somewhat concealed cave
that’s not normally open (allegedly a monk
found a used condom here and decided to
lock it). Near the end of the path, you’ll reach
an inviting spring-fed swimming hole, pop-
ular with local kids, and another water-fi lled
cave that also serves as a swimming hole.
Splitting from the path, a long bridge leads
to Lakkana Village, a picturesque Kayin vil-
lage, the backdrop to which includes Mt Zwe-
gabin and has been featured in numerous
Myanmar fi lms and videos. The countryside
here is drop-dead gorgeous and you could
easily spend a day walking and swimming.
Kaw Ka Thawng Cave is about 7 miles
from Hpa-an along the road to Eindu. To
get there hop on a pick-up truck to Eindu
(K700) and ask to be dropped off at Kaw Ka
Thawng Cave. Both Kawgun and Yathaypyan
caves are about 7 miles from Hpa-an, and the
only public transport will leave you a good
45-minute walk from the caves, so you’ll


Across the Thanlwin River from Hpa-an,
Hpan Pu Mountain is a craggy, pagoda-
topped peak that can be scaled in one
sweaty morning. Getting there involves
hopping on one of the river crossing
boats from the informal jetty (K500,
every 30 minutes from 7am to 5pm) near
Shweyinhmyaw Pagoda. Upon reach-
ing the other side, you’ll walk through
a quiet village then begin the steep but
relatively short ascent to the top. The
views of the river, the surrounding rice
fi elds and limestone cliff s (including Mt
Zwegabin) are astounding.
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