Hpa-An is a small city in the South-Eastern part of Myanmar, surrounded by rice fields, limestone mountains and caves (with a lot of bats). It’s not on your typical Myanmar travel route but it ended up being my favourite destination in this country. If you’re a lover of adventure and the outdoors, Hpa-An is an incredible place that I highly recommend visiting! It can also easily be combined with a visit to Golden Rock, which is situated somewhere between Yangon and Hpa-An. I hope this little guide to Hpa-An will help you plan your travels.
You’ll need 2 days or more to visit Hpa-An, depending on what you want to see and do. Keep in mind that like everywhere in Myanmar, you’ll have to take off your shoes and dress conservatively in order to enter a temple or a cave. It’s also a good idea to carry a flashlight, it’ll come in handy in the caves or during hikes before and after sunset.
Things to do in Hpa-An, Myanmar
Visit the caves
- Saddan Cave: Saddan Cave is the largest cave in Hpa-An and a must-see attraction. You’ll have to walk through the cave for about 15 minutes to reach the other side. Here, you can either walk back or rent a boat that will take you back to the main entrance for 3.000 Kyat.
- Kawgun Cave: My favourite cave out of all the caves I’ve visited in Hpa-An was Kawgun Cave. It’s full of beautiful Buddha statues and carvings that date back as far as the 7th century. Keep in mind that this cave is not accessible during the rainy season (from June to October).
- Yathaypan Cave: Yathaypan Cave is another beautiful cave that’s just a five minute drive from Kawgun Cave. You can walk through the cave for ten minutes to reach the other side. From here, you’ll have a nice view on the surroundings. You should know that just like Kawgun Cave, Yathaypan isn’t accessible during the rainy season.
Hike up the mountains and see the sunrise/sunset
- Hpan Pu Mountain: Hiking to the top of Hpan Pu Mountain was my first adventure in Hpa-An. It’s a short hike along stairs and bamboo ladders that will take you approximately 30 minutes. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view on Hpa-An, the Thanlyin River and some mountain ranges in the background. Hpan Pu Mountain can be reached either by scooter, tuktuk or by boat ferry.
- Taung Wine Mountain: Another amazing hike is the hike to the top of Taung Wine Mountain. It’s more challenging then the Hpan Pu hike and it will probably take you 1 to 1,5 hours to reach the top. The stairs are steep and continue all the way up to the top, but the view here is jaw-droppingly beautiful!
- Mount Zwegabin: I saved the best one for last – if you’re up for a real challenge, you’ll want to hike up the 722-metre tall Mount Zwegabin. This is the longest and hardest hike in Hpa-An but the views on top are so rewarding! Depending on your fitness level, the hike will take somewhere between 1,5 and 3 hours. The hike begins and ends with concrete stairs, but you’ll also have to walk up some small rocks. They’ve started building a cable car that goes to the top of the mountain but it hasn’t been finished yet (as of 2019).
Tip: Save the hikes for sunrise and sunset. Not only for the amazing views but also because these are the coolest parts of the day. The rest of the day is scorching hot – and I mean disgustingly sweating, scorching hot. Especially if you’re visiting during the hot season as I did.
Check out my Ultimate Day Hike Packing List.
Visit the bat cave
The bat cave is a small cave near the riverside that can’t be entered. Every evening around sunset, hundreds of thousands of bats fly out. It’s an incredible spectacle with bats zigzagging through the sky. This show goes on for about half an hour. The bats are said to be flying all the way to Mawlamyine to get food, and they come back every morning.
Go to Kyauk Kalat Pagoda
Set on top of a limestone pinnacle that’s located on a tiny isle, Kyauk Kalat Pagoda is a magnificent sight. Visitors are permitted to reach as high as a shrine that’s located about halfway up to the top. This place also offers stunning views of Mount Zwegabin.
How to get to Hpa An
The best way to reach Hpa-An is by bus. There are daily buses from Yangon and Bago to Hpa-An that take about 7 hours and costs 6.000 Kyat. There’s also a night bus from Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake) that takes 12 hours and will cost you 27.000 Kyat. You can book the bus through your hotel.
How to get around
As there’s not much to see in the city centre and most attractions are located around Hpa-An, the easiest way to get around is by renting a motorcycle. It’s also the cheapest way and the one that will allow you the most freedom. Motorcycles can be rented for 9.000 Kyat per day.
If you don’t want to rent a motorcycle, renting a private tuk-tuk is another option that will cost you 35.000 Kyat per day.
Both can be arranged through your hotel but I also saw shops in the city centre where you can rent motorcycles.
Where to stay
Where to eat
Read more: about Myanmar:
– 8 Best Places to Visit in Myanmar
– 13 Things You Should Know Before Travelling to Myanmar
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