During my Myanmar itinerary, I discovered a lot of beautiful places. Consider, for example, beautiful Bagan, which is full of ruins and temples. But Hpa-An was also a highlight for me. This town is located east of Yangon, separated by the sea. It’s a particularly popular destination for backpackers and has a pleasant atmosphere. I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Hpa-An down below!
10 must do’s in Hpa-An
Most of the sights in Hpa-An are located outside of the city, such as several temples and caves. To see most of it, you should take about 2-3 days. For example, spend 1 day for the sights on the left side of the river and 1 or 2 days for the rest on the right side. Renting a scooter or booking a tour are the best options. I thought it was fantastic to drive around with the scooter through the beautiful surroundings. Renting a scooter costs an average of € 5 per day.
1. Night market Hpa-An
There is not much to do in the center, but in my opinion, the night market north of the Kan Thar Yar is nice to visit. You can try out cheap and tasty food. There are also a few cafes nearby where you can have a beer with locals. Also a fun experience!
2. Kyar Inn Hill
Just outside the center is the Kyar Inn Hill. Climbing this hill is not too difficult and the view is absolutely beautiful. I do recommend doing this in the morning when it’s not yet insanely hot.
3. Linno Gu Cave
On the left side of the river you will first find the Linno Gu Cave. This cave is also known as Bat Cave because thousands of bats fly out around sunset. If you would like to admire this spectacle, make sure you’re standing ready around 5 PM.
4. Yathae Pyan Cave
The Yathae Pyan Cave I found one of the most impressive caves in Hpa-An. The many Buddha statues are a special scene. But that’s not everything. When you walk through the cave all the way to the end, you’ll encounter a fantastic viewpoint. Via a metal bridge you reach a platform where you can enjoy the view over the impressive landscape.
5. Kaw Gon Cave
A little further is the Kaw Gon Cave. The richly decorated cave is not very big, but it’s very beautiful. The walls are painted and there are many Buddha statues. You can also climb the hill via the wide staircase. An amazing view awaits you at the top. And probably some monkeys that at least didn’t make me very happy. They weren’t that aggressive at all but I’m terrified of those macaques!
6. Kaw Ka Thaung Cave
The other sights are on the right side of the river. You could drive via the main roads to visit everything. For example, start at the Kaw Ka Thaung Cave. The cave is home to dozens of colorful statues. However, I found the (literal) highlight of this sight the viewpoint. Via Maps.me I found a path to the starting point. On Google Maps you will find this path near the Public Toilets here. Walk through the blue and yellow gate. It took some climbing, but the view was well worth it!
7. Loon Nya Blue Lake
A lot more to the south is Loon Nya Blue Lake. This is like a blue lagoon that is a popular place among locals on a sunny day. However, the lake only has a blue color during the rainy season, between June and November. In the dry season there’s too little water and it’s not a must visit.
8. Mahar Sadan Cave
A lot more to the south is the Mahar Sadan Cave. This gigantic cave is home to a number of sizable stalagmites and stalactites. When you get to the end, you can choose to be taken back by traditional canoe through the beautiful countryside. Highly recommended!
Tip: Before you can enter the cave, you have to take off your shoes. But bring your shoes with you and don’t leave them at the entrance. After you’ve been brought back by canoe, you still have to walk a bit and it is not pleasant to be barefoot.
9. Kyaut Ka Latt Pagoda
On the way back to Hpa-An you will practically pass the Kyaut Ka Latt Pagoda. What makes this pagoda so special is that it is built on a rickety-looking rock that is located in a lake. It’s an important place for Buddhists and you will likely encounter them here. When you cross the bridge you have the opportunity to climb the pagoda via the stairs. But you will have the best view from the bridge or from the side of the lake.
10. Mt Zwegabin
East of the pagoda is Mt Zwegabin. You can climb this mountain and it’s recommended to do this early in the morning so that you can admire the sunrise from the peak. It’s quite a climb, but the view makes up for it. It’s amazing! You’re also likely to encounter some curious monkeys along the way.
How to get to Hpa-An
- Yangon – Hpa-An: There are a few buses a day from Yangon to Hpa-An. This journey takes approximately 8 hours.
- Kalaw – Hpa An: It’s also possible to travel directly from Hpa-An to Kalaw. In theory, this bus ride takes about 10 hours, but in reality our bus took 14 hours. Not very pleasant!
- Naypyidaw – Hpa An: You can also stop at Naypyidaw on the way to Kalaw to break up the journey. This takes about 7 to 8 hours.
- Myawaddy – Hpa-An: If you travel to or from Thailand across the border, you can also travel from the border town of Myawaddy to Hpa-An. You then take a minivan that takes about 5 hours.
- Mawlamyine – Hpa-An: But you can also travel to Mawlamyine first and then travel by boat (2 hours) to Hpa-An.