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Home >> Burma Destinations >> Hpa-an


Hpa-An is the capital city for the Province of Kayin. It is one of the closest place to the Thai border and is the first major city that Thai travelers would encounter.

It is home to only 50,000 people and, as you’d expect, it is one of the easiest cities to get around on foot. If you don’t fancy walking, it’s simple and easy to rent a motorbike though don’t forget that there is a ban on foreigners riding bikes in Bagan and around Inle Lake.

If you are coming over land from Kyaikto, you may find that the “bus” is an overcrowded pickup truck. It’s a 4-hour journey and can be a touch on the uncomfortable side but it’s a great chance to practice your Burmese on your fellow passengers. From Moulmein, it’s better to pay a little extra and take a seat on one of the many boats heading down river.

Traditional Costumes

Keep an eye out for the traditional costumes of the Kayin (or Karen) people. There’s a real preference for red that has been with them for hundreds of years though this is slowly being replaced with a modern range of bright colours. You should also try and enjoy the “Done Yaein,” which is a local dance performed through the region. Men jump in the air with their arms waving and the ladies gently sway while spinning their handkerchiefs.

Hpa-An is an area of outstanding natural beauty and most visitors don’t spend too long in the city; instead they prefer to wander the vistas along the banks of the Thanlwin River. Mount ZweKabin in the distance provides a suitably awe-inspiring backdrop for photographers.

Kawgun Cave

On the journey to Mount ZweKabin, don’t forget to visit Kawgun Cave. Here you’ll find many terracotta images of the Buddha and engraved brick work. Then jump out again at the Kyaukkalutt Pagoda, which sits reflected in the waters below and provides a striking image of tranquility and peace.

On the mountain itself, you’ll be able to wander many caves containing Buddhist art. The most famous and enjoyable is the one with over 10,000 identical statues of Buddha stretching back as far as your eye can see. At the base of Mount ZweKabin, you can enjoy the relaxing Lumbini Garden, which offers even more statues of the Buddha.

On the way back to Hpa-An spend a little time looking at the uniquely constructed local houses and their shimmering reflections in the Thalwin River.

In the afternoon, you might want to take a look round the Kayin State Cultural Museum. It’s only to get in and you can enjoy displays of Kayin (Karen) literature and figurines as well as musical instruments. There are also plenty of Buddhist works to enjoy there.

The Shweyinmyew Pagoda is the best place to finish your day in Hpa-An; its tranquil grounds by the river make for the perfect spot to watch the sun set over the river.

Source: Myanmarburma.com