The pleasant and picturesque city of Mawlamyine, located at the mouth of the Thanlwin River, is the capital of Mon State and Myanmar’s third largest city after Yangon and Mandalay. The quiet streets filled with colonial buildings, pretty pastel coloured wooden houses and impressive pagodas make the city an agreeable place to wander. Kyaikthanlan Pagoda, perched on the ridge than runs through the town, has fantastic views across the city and river. The city is well known for its seafood, which can be seen fresh as it is dumped into the market along the Strand Road.
The capital of Karen State is Hpa-An and Mount Zwegabin is its most famous landmark. It can take 10 or 15 minutes journey through the Sadan Cave, which exist into a lake and paddy field view. Thousands of miniature clay inside Sadan Cave. Kawgun Cave near Kawgun village is two miles distance from Hpa-An town, a capital of Kayin @ Karen State. Thandaung is a picturesque hill station in the north of the state that is developing into a popular place to start.
Mon State covers the upper part of the Tanintharyi Penisula. It consists of islands, hills, tropical forest, crop land and plantations. There are beautiful beaches in the area, including at Kyaikkami and Setse. Kyaikkami was a small coastal resort and well-known for Kyaikkami Yele Pagoda, a mental-roofed Buddha shrine complex perched over the sea. Thanbyuzayat, 60 km to the south of Mawlamyine, there is a war memorial to the 100,000 prisoner of war and civilians who perished during the construction of the so-called death railway at the hands of the Japanese during WW II. The railway was made infamous by the epic 2957 film Bridge on the River Kwai.
Kyaikthanlan Pagoda, built in AD 875, is thought to be the setting where Rudyard Kipling wrote his famous poem, The Road to Mandalay. Win Sein Taw Ya, is the site of the largest reclining Buddha statue in the world.
The two famous caves in Karen State are Bayint Nyi cave and Kawgun Cave. Bayin Nyi Cave is in quite a large complex with hot springs at the base of the hill. In Kawgun Cave, thousands of tiny clay Buddha images and carving, some dating back to the 7th cave. Other eight caves can be found in Karen State, namely Sadan, Phakat, Htaungwi, Yathaepyan, Wepyan, Pathone Khayone cave and Kokka-thaung Caves.
Kyayk Ka Lat is a pagoda perched atop a sheer rock that rises out of an artificial lake. It is topped with a golden stupa making it and farmland. From the rock there are great views of the surrounding countryside and nearby Mount Zwegabin. Many people visit to enjoy the sunset from there.
Thandaung was developed as a hill station during colonial times by the British and Mottama was captured by the British in the First Anglo-Burmese War of 1824-1826. Thandaung is very beautiful hill station and an important tea, coffee and fruit producing region.
Start your first day in Yangon by heading over to the downtown and the ancient octagonal-shaped Sule Paya located in the very centre of Yangon. It is surrounded by the busy streets and colonial buildings such as the Supreme Court and Yangon City Hall.
Continue to the Botahtaung Pagoda close to the Yangon Jetty. There is a sort of mirrored maze inside the stupa, with glass showcases containing many of the ancient relics.
Stop by a street café to take a taste of the delicious local Shan noodle dish accompanied with some spring rolls and Shan tofu for filling lunch.
Afternoon visit is the vibrant Bogyoke (Scott) Market which has the largest selection of Burmese handicrafts.
In the evening, visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, the 'heart' of Buddhists in Myanmar. The Pagoda is believed to be 2,600 years old and it is always crowded with many people praying and making offerings at Shwedagon especially on Full Moon days and religious days.
This morning, start your trip with a drive through seemingly endless paddy fields to the small town of Kyaikhto and on to the base camp of Kinpun. On the way, visit Bago and enjoy lunch. In the afternoon, arrive at Kyaikhtiyo base camp (approximately 5 hrs).
Take a local truck up a bumpy track up the mountain. The incredible Golden Rock sits precariously on top of the mountain, and is said to balance thanks to a precisely placed hair of Buddha.
If weather permitting, sunset views from Mount Kyaiktiyo are amazing.
Early risers may enjoy revisiting the Golden Rock and come back to the hotel for breakfast. Then return by truck to your car and drive to Hpa-An, Capital of the Karen State (approximately 2 ½ Hours’ Drive). On the way, visit Bayint Nyi Cave – it is also type of lime stone cave and cold and famous for natural hot and cold spring lake.
Continue, passing the bridge across the Thanlwin River to Hap-An, and visit Kawgun Cave where Buddha figures are carved out of the wall of the cave. Then check-into your hotel and take a short rest.
In the afternoon, visit Sadan Cave which is a natural lake at the end of the cave. Then drive back to Hpa-An, and enjoy sunset at Shwe Yin Myaw Pagoda.
This morning drive to Mawlamyine, the town from Rudyard Kipling’s Poem and on the way visit to Kyauk Ka Latt which is a small rock hill formed look like a wine glass. Then continue to drive to Katoe Ka Nawt Village and visit U Nar Oak Pagoda on the way.
Then continue drive to Mawlamyine and check into your hotel.
In the afternoon, drive up into the nearby hills which are home to many pagodas and monasteries. Visit Mahamuni Pagoda, built in typical Mon style. Then visit the Yadana Bon Myint monastery with beautiful woodcarvings showing the previous life of Buddha. Final spot is Kyaiktanlan Pagoda from Rudyard Kipling’s Poem, the tallest in the city, and the nearby viewpoint to enjoy beautiful sunset views over the harbor and out across the River.
Depart early morning and drive south. Your first stop will be at Thanbyuzayat, formerly the western terminus of the infamous Death Railway on which Allied Prisoners of War were forced to work by the Japanese military. Visit Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery. Then continue drive to Kyaikkami, a small seaside resort known as Amherst during the British era.
Return to Mawlamyine, stopping at Win Sein Toya, near Mudon, where the largest reclining Buddha in the world is under construction. Then continue to Kyaikmayaw and visit as time allows. You should arrive in Mawlamyine late afternoon.
Today enjoy your overland drive back to Yangon. On the way back we will stop at Nwa La Bo Mountain, Nwa La Bo Pagoda is built on a rock on a hilltop just like Kyaikhtiyo, and by the look of its elongated shape and tilted angle, this rock and the Pagoda structure appears even more precarious and unbalanced than the Kyaikhtiyo. It was built five years earlier than the Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda by the same wizard, and he did this miraculous feat by positioning three rocks on top of each other, with a strand of the authentic Buddha's hair placed under the middle rock.
Then continue drive back to Yangon and check-in to your hotel.
Say goodbye to your guide to depart Yangon. Take sweet memories of family bonding and travelling together in Myanmar back home. En Route will always make the unforgettable travel experience that lasts a life time.
Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is located to the north of Kyaikhto Township, Mon State. The Golden Rock of Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is one of the country’s most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites. The golden boulder, perched precariously on the edge of a rocky crag, is said to be held in place thanks to a single hair of the Buddha. To reach the top, take an open truck with rows of seating that whisk pilgrims up the steep and meandering road and drop them near the top. Once at the top the incredible spectacle of the balanced boulder is only amplified by the scenic beauty across the mountains.
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