Hpa An (Pa-an)
The capital of the Karen (Kayin) State, Hpa An is a picturesque and friendly town that sits on the eastern bank of the Thanlwin (Salween) river, it takes about 6 hours from Yangon to Hpa An by Local Express Bus. You can take Ferry Boat ( Thanlwin Princess ) from Hpa An to Mawlamyine. The bustling market, teahouses and Karen Cultural Museum are the highlights of the town itself, and on Zaydan Road, in the centre of town, you can find beer stations and restaurants with English-language menus, serving local and Asian foods.
The town is surrounded by stunning mountain scenery, and probably the most impressive example of this is the beautiful, sacred and monolithic Mount Zwegabin, 16 kilometres from Hpa An. There are steps all the way to the top of Zwegapin, but it is hard work, particularly in the heat – and the steps are in varying degrees of repair!
It takes two to four hours to get to the summit, depending on your pace – but there are people selling water and other refreshments on the way up. The monastery and pagoda at the top are a delight, and the canteen there serves fantastic – and usually well deserved – food.
Nearby to Hpa An can also be found Sadan Cave, which opens as a gigantic cavern filled with Buddha images and pagodas, and can be walked through to the other side of the mountain. It is truly impressive, and you can be ferried back on a small two-person wooden boat for 1000ks.
The Kyauk Kalap is a truly unique pagoda, set on top of an unusual rock formation in the middle of a lake. It is a beautiful spot and offers great photo opportunities of Mount Zwekapin. Despite signs that indicate otherwise, women are allowed access.
The Karen New Year celebrations take place in Hpa An in December, and feature dancing and traditional kick boxing competitions.
Places to visit
The road abounds with rich local life and scenic landscape. You can visit Kawgoon Cave (an invaluable cultural heritage questionably dates back to 7-AD), Yathe Pyan Cave and continues to KyaukKaLatt which is a small rock hill formed look like a wine glass. Then, visit to Lumbini Garden with thousands of Buddha images at the base of Mt. Zwekabin,Yay Tagon Village ( water-fall village ), Sadan Cave (there had rock, slop rock fountains) and Kaw Ka Thaung Cave .