Hpa An travel guide.
Welcome to this Hpa An travel guide. This often overlooked scruffy little town lies is surrounded by a stunning landscape of rice fields and karst mountains, hiding incredible caves, filled with statues and decorations. Known as the former capital of the Kayin State, Hpa An is ‘only’ 6 hours away from Yangon. If you’re crossing over from Thailand by land, this place is an awesome first stop, only a 3-5 hour drive from the Maesot-Myawaddy border.
Editors note: Don’t miss the unique and beautiful drone movie ‘Flying over Hpa An‘
Hpa An travel guide: Top things to do at Hpa An
Kyauk Kalat Pagoda
One of the most popular locations in Hpa An is the Kyauk Kalat Pagoda, located on top of a limestone rock in the middle of a lake. With Mt Zwekabin in the back, this is quite a spectacular spot where you’ll find many local people.
If you visit only 1 cave, this should be the one! As you reach the entrance, you’ll see gorgeous decorations on the wall and many Buddha statues around the cavern walls. As you walk along the cave, it takes you to the other side of the mountain where you’re greeted with a lush view. From there, you can take a boat back to the entrance, magical!
Also called ‘The cave of the Ten Thousand Buddhas, this is an important 7th century archaeological site. Countless small Buddha images were carved on the wall all the way to the ceiling. It’s an impressive entrance and well worth the visit.
There are still many other caves to visit in this regions, which I’m not covering here.
Hiking up Mt. Zwekabin
This 2-3 hour walk will reward you with spectacular views, especially if you make it up here for sunrise. It’s supposed to be the best hike, so if you’re choosing only one, this should be the one. You used to be able to sleep at the monastery at the top, but word is going around this isn’t allowed anymore. Check with locals before you plan on it.
These next few shots were taken with my drone around Mt Zwekabin, so they’re not the views from the mountain.
Walking up Mt. Hpan Pu
Across the river lies the small Mt. Hpan Pu, which is a great little side trip and relatively easy walk up. Take a boat to cross the river. Keep in mind you have to walk a bit further than you might think, to reach the start of the staircase to walk up. It’s best to do this walk early in the morning. Since you have to take your shoes off, expect the rocks to get hot!
Hiking up Taung Wine Mountain
I’m not much of a hiker, so I didn’t do this myself. But the intense 45 minute hike is supposed to be worth it. Again this is one you’d want to do as early as possible.
Hpa An Morning Market
If you enjoy local markets, the morning market in Hpa An will be worth checking out. It’s located in the town center.
Kan Thar Yar Lake
The lake in the middle of the town is worth a visit if you have some time left or want to wind down a bit. You can food or drinks in the south and find a place to sit in the northwest of the lake. It’s a good spot to watch the sunset and mingle with some of the kind locals.
Going around Hpa An
The best way to get around here is by hiring a motorbike or a bicycle. A motorbike lets you venture out a bit further and you’ll be able to see more in a day. But if bicycles are more your thing, this is a pretty good place for it. Flymya offers biking tours, which take you some of the pagodas, Saddam Cave and Kaw-Ka-Mate village.