The capital of Karen (Kayin) State, Hpa-an is a picturesque town with a backpacker feel that sits on the eastern bank of the Thanlwin (Salween) river, about 270 kilometres east of Yangon. The setting itself, the surrounding caves and mountains to explore, and the laid back atmosphere are the highlights of the area.
22 kilometres south east of Hpa An you can find the stunning Sadan Cave, which opens into a gigantic cavern filled with Buddhas and pagodas and can be walked all the way through to the other side, under the mountain. It is truly impressive, and returning you can take a small wooden ferry back under the mountain for K1500 per person, making for a lovely circuit. Closer to Hpa An are Kaw Ka Taung caves and pool ; the swimming area here provides an opportunity to wind down and cool off after a day of exploring, and offers lovely views of the surrounding rice paddies and mountains. There are also a number of restaurants here that serve great local and Thai food and it is possible to go kayaking in surrounding paddy fields when they’re flooded, with guided village visits – see Travel Hub section further down this page for more info. Other caves in the area include Yathaypyan and Kawgun, which are situated on the west side of the Thanlwin river; all the caves are picturesque and hold substantial religious and historical value.
Taung Wine Mountain & Pagoda
13 kilometres of paved and unpaved road east of Hpa An, the Taung Wine Pagoda sits atop a limestone mountain. Smaller than Mount Zwegabin and less frequented by tourists, the trek up Taung Wine Mountain, a steep dirt path cutting through dense jungle, skips none of the thrills. Near the top, a sheer iron staircase with spectacular 360 degree views leads to a weathered stupa.
Famous Places in Hpa-an
- Mount Zwegabin & Zwe Ka Bin Pagoda
- Kan Thar Yar Lake
- Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda
- Chit Thu Myaing Garden & Resort
- Taung Wine Mountain & Pagoda
- Lumbini Garden
- Kyone Htaw Waterfall
- Shwe Yin Hmyaw Pagoda
5- Famous Caves in Hpa-an
- Sadan Cave
- Kaw Ka Thaung Cave
- Yathae Pyan Cave
- Kaw Gon Cave (Mon Queen Shinsawpu Culture)
- Bayin Nyi Cave
Shwe Yin Hmyaw Pagoda
This pagoda at the north-west end of town has nice views of the sunset. You can watch from a viewing tower or at the side of the river next to the pagoda.
Kaw Ka Thaung Cave
This is a small and low cave built using tiles and filled with numerous small and big Buddhas. Bring a torch since there is something in the end to explore. Going further just by the cave, after 200 m there is a nice swimming pool with very clear water from the mountain and hundreds of fish in it, circled by half a dozen restaurants right next to beautiful rice fields. Take a swim and get off the salt.
Sunrise to sunset. A huge cave filled with a Buddha face looking rock, a reclining Buddha statue, a pagoda and many more Buddhist items. There is lighting nowadays but do not forget (ǃ) to bring along your shoes when entering the cave, to walk further and through after the pagoda part (around 500 m). At the other end there are boats waiting for a nice trip on the lake and another cave (about 1,000 kyat).
A nice looking “garden” with 1,150 sitting and quadratically placed Buddhas at the foot of Zwegabin mountain. In early 2017 a cable car was inaugurated to get a glance of the garden from above.
From the top it offers a spectacular 360° views of the surrounding planes, especially when the air is still clear, i.e. in the morning and during wet season. It takes up to 4 hr to walk up the 723 m mountain and down again. Bring enough water for the climb and heat. There are at least two main tracks, one leading up north from “Lumbini Garden” and another one going down and east towards the main road that serves Kaw Ka Taung Cave, Ein Du village and Saddan Cave. However it will be hard to use both tracks if you come with rented motorbike.
A monastery in the middle of an artificial lake filled with uncountable amounts of small (jumping around) and big fish (sticking out their mouths). It contains a pillar-like and interestingly stable or to say impossibly still standing rock with a pagoda mounted on top. Looks very nice for a couple of pictures. The rock can be climbed. Before the lake another golden temple with a nice looking Buddha statue can be visited.
Kaw Goon Cave
Besides the Saddan Cave, this is also a very famous cave and worth the visit, causing the steep price. The rock carvings are said to originate from the 13th century. If you are not keen to pay the entrance, climb the close lookout for free. It may be possible to skip the “donation” check by keeping to the left and walking behind the buildings facing the main path. Watch out for the monkeys.
Bayin Nyi Cave
Placed in a beautiful surrounding with a nearby lake and pagoda.
Kyone Htaw Waterfall
Located in Kayin state, Kyone Htaw Waterfall is one of the most popular attraction for any trip across Hpa An or south Myanmar. This fall is a great treat for both domestic and international visitors. The fall is about 2 hours driving from Hpa An town. It offers green-colored water with beautiful natural pool that you can swim. Kyone Htaw – cascading for 30 meters is surrounded by unspoiled forest while the road leading to the waterfall area is partly unpaved. This is a nice place to do a day trip in Hpa An along with Sadan cave and other famous sights. The fall is free for administration.