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5 Best Things To Do In Hpa An

With the southern states of Myanmar often getting overlooked, we took a trip to Hpa An, the capital city of Kayin State.

This small city sits on the banks of the Than Lwin River and is surrounded lush green paddy fields and dramatic limestone karst mountains.

It’s famous for its many caves that are home to a variety of beautiful landscapes, ancient Buddha images and shrines.

Hpa An is a friendly, laidback city that is not overly touristy and the perfect spot to relax, enjoy the scenery and explore the local culture.

Here’s a list of the top things to do in Hpa An.

1. Kaw Ka Taung Cave & Kayaking

Hpa An is certainly not on most travellers Myanmar itinerary, however we had a great time!

Kaw Ka Taung Cave is great cultural start to Hpa An. One of the oldest caves in the country, it houses more than a thousand images of Buddha and is a respected and sacred place for the local people.

Also, at the back of the cave, there are a handful of floating restaurants and a beautiful natural Ruby Lake that the locals use as a swimming pool.

However, if you’re looking for something more adventurous, the kayaking also available here is an awesome way to switch off and get your muscles working.

Kayaking Kaw Ka Taung Cave Hpa An Things To Do In Hpa An
Kayaking in Hpa An – you’ll need one of these hats!
Kayaking Kaw Ka Taung Cave Hpa An Things To Do In Hpa An
Bath time at Ruby Lake

2. Latt Ka Na Village

We were on a guided tour with Myanmar Tourism that happened to include home cooked lunch at a local village.

For a range of authentic, fresh and tasty local cuisine this is the best. All served with a smile, you feel like you are one of the family!

We don’t think this is available without booking through a tour guide but it was a great experience if you get the chance.

Definitely one of the best things to do in Myanmar.

Local Food In Mawlamyine Things To Do In Mawlamyine
Local Burmese food with members of the Latt Ka Na Village

3. Gong Thar Phaung Village (Vegetarian Village)

This is one you definitely shouldn’t miss! Surrounded by paddy fields, this community follow a different type of Buddhism.

They have no electricity, eat no meat (surviving on only the vegetables they grow in their fields) and have certain clothing that identifies the people of their village.

Most importantly they worship no ‘god’ but a man that has dedicated his whole life to living in the jungle.

These friendly villagers were very warm and welcoming. The leader of the village even invited us to have lunch with him and his family!

Gong Thar Phaung Village Hpa An Things To Do In Hpa An
Local kids in the vegetarian village of Gong Thar Phaung
Gong Thar Phaung Village Hpa An Things To Do In Hpa An
We were invited for lunch with the leader of the village and his family

4. Saddan Cave

Named after Saddan, the king of elephants who lived close to the cave, this gigantic cave is home to some pretty impressive stalagmites and stalactites. The largest being called the ‘Stone Pillar of the King of Elephants’.

This amazing naturally formed cave is full of history and lots of religious stories about the rock formations. At the exit of Saddan Cave, there is a large lake which is said to be King Saddan’s bathing lake.

The best part has to be the river taxi taking you back round to the entrance of the cave. It was quite an eerie but really fascinating place to visit.

Saddan Cave Hpa An Things To Do In Hpa Ap
Saddan Cave entrance

5. Than Lwin River

To get between Hpa An and Mawlamyine there are a few options including train, bus and river boat. Or, of course, you can pay for a private taxi.

We opted to hop on a river boat that took us along the Than Lwin River, taking around three and a half hours in total.

This river, also known as the Salween and Nu, is the longest undammed river in mainland southeast Asia. Furthermore, from its origins in Tibet, to its estuary in Myanmar, it remains wild and relatively untouched.

This large river supports the livelihoods of over 10 million people, including fisheries and fertile farmland central to ethnic minority communities living along its banks.

The river has faced a series of proposed dams over the years, which would be very damaging to the livelihoods of many of the communities.

However, due to a huge river protection movement that has arisen, these plans have never come to fruition. So, much to the delight of the communities that need this river to survive, the river remains natural and free flowing.

For us, the morning boat ride along this impressive river was perfect. It was super relaxing and a great scenic switch-up from wheels and tarmac!

Mawlamyine to Hpa An Boat
Lauren cruising down the Than Lwin River

Where To Stay In Hpa An

Luxury

Keinnara Hpa-An

Situated in Hpa-an, 8.7 miles from Hpa-an Night Market, Keinnara Hpa-An features accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar and a garden.

Featuring a terrace, the 4-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom.

The accommodation provides an outdoor swimming pool, a 24-hour front desk, where staff can assist guests, as well as free WiFi.

The rooms in the hotel come with a flat-screen TV and Keinnara Hpa-An offers a continental or à la carte breakfast.

Bike hire and car hire are available at the accommodation and the area is popular for hiking and cycling.

Mid-Budget

Hotel Gabana

Set in Hpa-an, 750 yards from Hpa-an Night Market, Hotel Gabana (Hpa-An) offers air-conditioned rooms and a bar.

Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and room service, along with free WiFi throughout the property.

The hotel features family rooms. At the hotel, all rooms come with a desk, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. The units will provide guests with a fridge.

Hotel Gabana (Hpa-An) offers a buffet or Asian breakfast.

Budget

Thanlwin Pyar Guest House

Located in Hpa-an, within 1.2 miles of Hpa-an Night Market and 350 yards of Shwe Yin Mhyaw Pagoda.

Thanlwin Pyar Guest House provides accommodation with a terrace and free WiFi as well as free private parking for guests who drive.

The accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk, a tour desk and ticket service for guests.

An Asian breakfast is available daily at the guest house.

For more places to stay in Hpa An, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.

Planning Your Trip

Book Your Flight

Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight.

They search websites and airlines around the globe to find you the best possible routes and prices.

Book Your Accommodation

Use Booking.com to find the best accommodation deals.

They consistently return the cheapest rates on everything from guesthouses to hotels for all of your budget needs.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Use SafetyWing to find the best travel insurance for you.

They provide travel and medical incident insurance built specifically for digital nomads.

Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations.

Book Your Tours & Activities

Use GetYourGuide to book your activities in advance.

They sell the best tours, excursions and activities to attractions around the world.

Conveniently book, download and access your tickets on the move all from your mobile.

Book Your Rental Car

Use RentalCars.com to find the best deals on rental cars in the area.

They compare all major car rental companies and allow you to easily book the perfect vehicle for your trip.

Buy Those Last Minute Bits

Use Amazon to buy everything you need for your adventure.

They offer next day delivery and you can use my travel packing checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.


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5 Best Things To Do In Hpa An