The small, welcoming town of Hpa An in south-eastern Myanmar is often overlooked by travellers, thanks in part to its location off the backpacking trail. But this former capital of the Kayin State enjoys a picturesque riverside location surrounded by Buddhist caves and rice fields; it’s a great base for exploring the surrounding area.
On your first morning here, check out the morning market. This is the spot to pick up local souvenirs like handwoven Karen fabrics, or just snap some photos capturing local life and culture. Before you take a photo, it’s polite to ask, or just smile and show your camera; most people don’t mind.
Visit the Sadaar Caves. You can’t miss the entrance, with its Buddhas and statues. A hike through some subterranean caves and passages brings you out on the other side of the mountain for some spectacular views and the option to return by traditional wooden boat. While you’re here, you should also check out Kaw Ka Thaung Cave, where you can go swimming in a natural underground pool.
For the adventurous, here’s something a little different – how about a bike trek to the summit of Mount Zwe Ka Bin? It’s not for the faint-hearted as it takes two to three hours though forest, arriving at the summit to see some of the most amazing views around. On the way, you’ll encounter cheeky monkeys who may try to swipe loose items like your wallet or sunglasses if you get too close!
The town can sometimes get busy, and in the hotter months you might want a break. Kan Thar Yar Lake is one of the most popular local spots for chilling out, and if you head for the south side of the lake (one of the best kept secrets) you’ll find street food stalls selling a range of local delicacies as well as cheap beer. This is a great spot to kick back and watch the sunset.
We love the welcoming, chilled-out vibe and unspoilt nature of Hpa An and think it’s a great spot from which to see the surrounding countryside.
Plan your trip to Hpa An today.