Hpa-An, the capital of Karen (Kayin) State, the picturesque town with breath-taking landscapes, located on the eastern bank of Thanlwin River and homeland of the Kayin people. It is a small town encircled by dramatic limestone mountains and you can also find religiously significant caves in these mountains.
Hpa-an is famous for its numerous surrounding caves, mountains and green planes.
Exploring mountains and caves
Mount Zwekabin has a unique shape which is not easily forgotten and is not only the signature landmark of Kayin state but also iconic pilgrimage site of Myanmar.
The top of Zwekabin is 722 metres (2,369 ft) above sea level and climbing the steep trail up to Mount Zwekabin take two hours, you will find aggressive monkey along the way but when you are at the top, rewards are plentiful as Mount Zwekabin is a picture-postcard hill station
According to the legend, there is a strand of the Buddha’s hair enshrined in the pagoda. At the bottom of the mountain, thousands of large statues of the Buddha can be seen.
Saddan stands for Royal Elephant and you will see two stone elephants at the bottom step of a staircase leading up to the cave. The entrance is dominated by several Buddha images, a couple of pagodas and some newer clay wall carvings. Saddan Cave is 800 meters and is the longest cave in Kayin State.
Kawgun was constructed by King Manuaha after he was defeated in battle and had to take sanctuary in these caves. It is a monastery in the middle of the man-made lake filled with uncountable amounts of small (jumping around) and big fish (sticking out their mouths). Before the lake another golden temple with a nice looking Buddha image can be visited.
Bat cave, one of the must-sees in Hpa-An, a small cave which cannot be entered, the home of an endless stream of bats. But you can go there during the sunset when millions of bats flying out of a cave and over the river all the way up to Mawlamyaing to feed (they will come back every morning). When the bats start flying out, they start beating drums (actually jerry cans) so that the bats make interesting patterns in flight. The most important thing is to bring the sufficient torch-light to overcome the darkness.