Early Saturday morning our trip to Hpa-An started from Kinpun village at the base town of mount Kyaiktiyo (Kyaiktiyo Pagoda). It took us 3 hours to get to our Thiri Hpa-An Hotel, next to the Than Lwin Bridge, Hpa-An.
Hpa-An is surrounded by beautiful mountains which pops out from the surrounding plains and most of those mountains got large caves and pagodas. So, much to enjoy in Hpa-An. After settling into the hotel room, my friends and I started with sacred massive Mount Zwegabin, not far away from my hotel. Even though there were steps to climb Mount Zwegabin and visit the interesting monastery and pagoda at the top but I had to give up the idea as my knees were bothering due to the trekking I did at Mount Kyaiktiyo the previous day also after hearing that friend of mine did make it to the top once in her lifetime and it took her 2 and half hours to get to the summit. So I enjoyed it from the base and left the climb for the next trip.
Our 1st stop: Bayin Nyi Cave
We got off the highway between Thaton and Hpa-An and made many turns to get to Bayin Nyi Cave. A long walk from the parking lot along a shady path between a pool. There are hot springs where locals usually swim. The other side of the pool there was a temple complex with a lot of colorful statues. To get to the cave I had to climb steep steps and once at the top greeted by many friendly monkeys not afraid at all. Beautiful view from the top. A concrete path leads through the cave and I needed to walk barefooted.
Next Stop: Yathae Pyan Cave, Hpa-An
Among the nine mountains in Hpa-An, Yathae Pyan is a historic mountain. It has an open cave in which terra-cotta votive tablets that are stacked on the wall of the cave. In the perspective view, Yathae Pyan cave looks like a toad that is looking for its prey as well as an eagle that is going to catch a prey.
We parked our car a little far away from the cave then crossed a bridge over a pool to get to the stairway entrance. The cave is at 150 feet above the base so there are quite a steep stairs to climb. At the mouth of the cave, there was a large stupa and the walls were flanked with Buddha sculptures and partially covered in tile. Hot and humid inside and had to walk barefooted on a wet passageway that leads to another side of the cave, through the opening you could enjoy the view of the lake, was picturesque and perfect for photographers.
It really gets difficult to get here during the rainy season but since the surrounding area gets flooded only way to approach in anything but a boat. Since Yathei Pyan cave is slightly elevated so unlike other caves in that area it does not fill with water.
There are a lot of monkeys by the pool infant of the cave and for locals its a tradition to feed the monkeys while visiting the sacred cave.
Historical Kawgoon Cave was our next stop
Kawgoon Cave was known as Kowgun. It is also called Cave of the Ten Thousand Buddhas. There is an entrance fee for foreigners, 3000k (US$3). The cave is more of a rock shelter than a true cave. The rock cliff is almost covered with clay tablets high on the walls, and there are Buddhas everywhere, with a reclining Buddha in a separate outer building. The only chamber is lit by daylight. Kawgun was constructed by King Manuaha after he was defeated in battle and had to take sanctuary in the caves. It is impressive to look at. It was damaged a few years back when cement factory nearby started dynamiting nearby places for limestone.
Kaw Ka Taung Cave, Hpa-An
Kaw Ka Taung Cave is at Kaw Kyaik, east of the Zwegabin hill. There’s a long row of stone monks outside the compound and lots of Buddhas inside. The cave is only 53m long but has a tiled floor and is full of statues.
Kyauk Kalap Pagoda Hpa An, Myanmar
Sometime it may look like every mountaintop or nice looking rock has a golden stupa built on top of it. When you get to the Kyauk Kalap pagoda you do see the same but most importantly it’s so beautiful and the rock formation is unusual and seemingly balanced precariously, with a golden stupa on top of it. Surrounded by a spectacular lake which was constructed around the pagoda giving it the name of Kyauk Kalap, which means ‘water garden’.
In the background of the pagoda and lake stands Mr. Zwekabin, which is so beautiful to look at from the wooden bridge that connects the pagoda island with the mainland. The 723 meters high Mt. Zwekabin is one of the most sacred mountains in the country and there is a pagoda that sits on top of it.
Shwe Yin Myaw Pagoda, Hpa-An
Shwe Yin Myaw World Peace Pagoda is located at the bank of Thanlwin River, Hpa An Township, Kayin State, Myanmar. If you are in Hpa-An this pagoda should be on your list. You could see the beautiful sunset view, the far distant mountains on the other side of the river.
Lumbini Garden with thousand Buddha – Hpa An
The Lumbini Garden with a thousand Buddha Image at the base of Zwekabin mountain is also a great place to visit along with the monastery at the foot of the mountain. It is also the entrance to go to the top of Mount Zwekabin. A cable car project is planning for pilgrims to go straight to the top of the great famous mountain from the base
My Opinion and Tips
Have you been to Hpa An? Any additional tips to share?
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