Hpa-an is a small town (pop.~40,000) in Kayin State in Southeastern Myanmar
(meaning covered pick-up truck crammed with way too many people) from Kyaiktito is about 4 hours, 5,000 Kyat. You will probably need to change pickup in Thaton but that is included in the price. It might be marginally cheaper to take the regular pickup from Kyaiktito to the train station (500 kt), then go to the main road and wave down any of the pickups going towards Thaton, Mawlamyine, or Hpa An. Air conditioned buses, at 12 noon and 3 pm, from Kyaiktiyo to Hpa An (those are coming from Yangon) take around 4 hours and about 7,000 kyat; unlike with the pickup that departs from the "base camp"(Kinpun), with the bus you have to take another transportation from Kinpun down to the bigger town on the highway to meet the bus. If you book your ticket at the guesthouse in Kinpun, the owner's son or other relative might give you a ride on the back of their motorcycle to the main road to meet the bus.
Bus from Kyaikto to Malamwine 3500 kyat, Hpa an same price. Do not pay more , they ll try to charge you double price.Yangon 3500 kyat.
- Thaton Both pick-ups (1500kyat) and large buses (2000kyat) go from Thaton to Hpa An. Pick-ups leave frequently from outside the big golden pagoda ob the main road. You might need to stop the large buses passing by.
- Yangon - Buses run several times a day. the trip takes about 6 hrs. 4,500 kyat from Aung Mingalar Highway busstop. To go back from Hpa An to Yangon buses can be easily found for 5000 kt.
- Mawlamyine almost hourly morning departure bus takes 2 hours, 1,000 kyat local bus to 7,500 Kyat AC Van. It is possible to catch passing one beside clock tower/CB Bank. Private boat can be arranged through your guesthouse.
Several departures in the morning, 4-9 hours. You may find a shared taxi (10,000k). The new road between Myawaddy and Kawkareik, which officially opened in July 2015, now allows circulation in both directions every day and also dramatically shortens the trip as it takes 45min to pass over the mountain instead of 3h on the old road. The overall trip in a car will take between 4h (car taking the new road and not stopping forever for lunch) and 9h (bus taking the old road). Check the situation before taking the route.
The popular government ferry ("slow boat") from Mawlalmyine to Hpa-An was discontinued as of about December 2012. A fast boat is sometimes available, arranged through the guesthouses in Mawlamyine (70,000 kyat to charter a private boat from Mawlamyine to Hpa-an). Breeze GH organizes a daily boat leaving at 8:15AM for 10000 per person (March 2014), sign up the day before. Elegant Myanmar also organises a more comfortable boat with a toilet (although equal noise level) for USD 12 which leaves at 8:30AM returning at 2PM. Be prepared for either boat to break down in the middle of the river.
Motorbikes can be rented from Soe Brother's Guesthouse for 8000k.
Bicycles go for 2000 kt for a day or 1000 kt for half a day.
There are pickups that go to some of the sites around Hpa An.
Tuktuks usually charge 1000 per person between jetty, bus station and hotels.
Next door to Soe Brothers to the right there are two motorbike shops. One is run by some young guys for 8000k, but the next one over to the right is a great mom and pop type operation that I highly recommend. Run by a friendly couple they do automatics for 8000k and semi-auto for 6000k. Bikes were in good quality and I was happy to find a cheaper bike. Called Good Luck Motorbike Rental.
The Galaxy Hotel and the Lwin Pyar Guesthouse also rent motorbike for 8000k.
Shweyinhmyaw Paya, the pagoda on the northwest end of town has nice views of the sunset; you can watch from a viewing tower or at the side of the river next to the pagoda. There is a ferry below the pagoda for Mt. Hpar Pu on the other side.
Small lake in the southern part of the city, nice for a late evening stroll & a nice view from Mt Zwegabin across a wooden bridge.
Please dress modestly (cover shoulders, knees etc) especially in temples and pagodas.
- Saddar Cave. An enormous cave with a reclined Buddha and other religious monuments. Foreigners might be asked for a 1000 kt donation at the entrance. Bring your shoes along to explore the rest of the cave past the entrance area! Bring a torch. In 15 minutes you will reach the end of the cave where there is another cave across the meadow and a lake. A boat across the lake and through another cave back to the main entrance of the Saddar Cave costs 1500 kt per person, but try to bargain down to 1000 kt. Food and drinks available at higher prices than normal. There are two access dirt roads from the east and west. OpenStreetMap has a good map of the area. Perfectly doable by yourself on a motorbike, but would be a really long ride by bicycle (30 km away from Hpa An). (16.73846,97.71869) edit
- Kawt Ka Taung cave. This cave is covered with bathroom tiles and numerous Buddha statues. There is a swimming hole a little bit down the lane. And also a small hill that can be climbed for the views (10 minutes to go up). The nearby village (praised by the Lonely Planet) is across a concrete bridge and is nice to bike through. There are some nice restaurants near the cave which have a view over the rice fields. (16.82967,97.70504) edit
- Bat cave. A must-see, the bat cave is a small cave that cannot be entered but you can go there for sunset when hundreds of thousands of bats fly out. They are said to be flying all the way to Mawlalmyine to feed and come back every morning. The cave is part of a complex of a few pagodas, one on top of the rock, accessible by a steep ladder, with amazing views over the river and the bridge. There is an old couple who live there with some kids. Consider making a small donation for them to take care of the place. When the bats start flying out, they start beating drums (actually jerry cans) so that the bats make interesting patterns in flight. It is possible to go there by bicycle but make sure you have sufficient front and back lights for coming back in the dark. It is of course also possible to go during the day just for the views and the pagodas but the bat show at sunset is not to be missed. Go west across the big bridge, then take the stairs that go right down to the river. If you are cycling, you can carry your bicycle down the stairs. If you are motorized, take the next right turn to the north down to the river. Follow the street to the north for 200 m and you will see a gate to a monastery. Take your shoes off and walk right in. The cave is at the end of this trail, right by the Riverside roughly at 16.8482047, 97.6105498. You can also go by tuk-tuk for 10.000 kyats (2500 kyats/person) or even with a motorbike with driver for two people (8000 kyats). You can arrange tuk tuk at Galazy Motel. The driver takes you to the Bat Cave and wait until sunset, ant then drives back to Hpa An. (16.84891,97.61047) edit
The traditional market, just downhill from Soe Brothers guesthouse and across from the red mosque, is where you can hear the Karen/Kayin language spoken and a good spot for food in the morning. The two indoor buildings have housewares, shampoo, mosquito repellent, etc. on the ground floor and clothing and fabrics on the second floors. There is a fruit market outside and a small gold market (beware artificial gems!) around the perimeter. Good value is the hand woven longi fabric in traditional Karen ikat patterns (2000 to 6000 kyats, depending on size, and whether cotton or synthetic "seelon").
If you buy longi material, and you can't keep the thing from falling off the way the locals do, you may want to have it made up at a tailor with discreet ties or zippers. A good tailor shop is, from the clock tower, take the street next to the bus ticket office, and go uphill towards the monastery. The road curves around to the right, then turn right and you will see the treadle sewing machines in a shop on your right. You can also take the road up from the triangular roundabout, walk uphill past the New Day bakery shop, then turn left at the first intersection. It's on your left, maybe the second building. If you need to travel quickly, they can expedite it for an additional fee.
Traditional massage, head and shoulders and/or feet. Also pedicure, with nail polish (about 2000 kyats), including original multicolor freehand designs (for around 5000 kyats June 2013). From the clock tower, take the road by the bus ticket office towards the monastery. It is the third house on the left, the sign says beauty salon.
Not much to do in the city itself, but beautiful surroundings outside of the city. You can arrange an all-day tour at the Soe Brothers Guesthouse or at Golden Sky Guesthouse (see below for details) - they'll take you out in the countryside, to visit different caves (at one you can swim in a small natural pool) and the Kyauk Kalap Monastery in the middle of a small lake. Really nice day.
You can also explore by yourself, renting a bicycle (some places are no further than 5km) or motorbike, or catching pick ups from the market & walking around.
You can also take a ten-minute boat across the river to Hpa Pu. Turn right at the village and walk along the well marked dirt track to the top of the hill. It's a good place to view the sunset.
Fit or not, the climb up Mt Zwekabin will hit you like a ton of bricks (1 hour at fastest, usually 1.5 or more, straight up). Some sleep at the monastery at the top, but there's no grassy space for camping or the like. The top can be accessed from the southwest or east enhances, the latter being steeper. But it's closer and probably more comfortable from the east. The west side access is popular with tours and it has a monastery with hundreds of Buddha statues at the bottom. This is around 10 km from Hpa An (doable on a bicycle). The trails are well marked on OpenStreetMap. Drinks are double price at the top, so bring your own. Views during the dry season may be less than spectacular, as the horizon becomes invisible with dust /fog.
Taking a boat from Hpa-An to Mawlamyine is a great idea. The boat costs about 10,000 kyats and it's a 3 hour journey to Mawlamyine. It's a more pleasant way to traverse down the Than Lwin river.
All run about 500 kyat per hour (May 2013)
- Unnamed shop, in front of clock tower. Entrance through a sliding door next to a tailor shop. You can't see it, ask. Air conditioned but very slow, think 10 minute page loads. Sometimes this internet is up when the others in town are down.
- Pitarbeergy. One block uphill from the only traffic light in town. Near the supermarket, next to the popular breakfast restaurant with no name and back from the street. This is the fastest and most usable internet in town, but subject to the usual power failures and unexplained down times. There is no WIFI in town, but they can plug an ethernet cable into your laptop. May be noisy, with local youths singing or playing music at high volumes. 400 kyat per hour for laptop (May 2013)
- San Ma Tau restaurant/World Gate internet. Open from about 6 pm to 10 pm. Painfully slow. Your USB/flash drive may not work here.
Ask Soe Brothers GH or Than Lwan O GH for a map & recommendations.
- Shwe Da Gar, Thitsar road (5 doors north from the mosque). Good choice of ice cream, including a homemade one, milkshakes & snacks edit
- Market, Thitsar road (in front of the mosque). Fruits & vegetables, local sweets, boiled corn, curries & noodle soups, etc. edit
- San-Ma-Thu Restuarant. has a large selection of Myanmar food that tastes excellent. From the clock tower, pass the traffic lights. San-Ma-Thu is about 800m down the road on your right. edit
- Feeling World Restaurant, (From the clock tower, pass the traffic lights and the next roundabout. The restaurant is 100m on, on your left.). Good Myanmar food at low prices. Staff are helpful and can speak english. edit
- Shwe Htone Maung. has a particularly good breakfast menu including the outstanding banana plata and the shwe taung noodle which is a sort of Asian noodle version of a bowl of cereal. For lunch, the rice vermicelli is good. Staffed by hilariously disaffected youth. Good free wifi. edit
- Opposite Parami Motel. is a family run cafe serving good Myanmar hotpot and pork rib noodle soup as well as delectable boiled and fried dumplings and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. edit
Lucky, a block from the market, has frosted mugs and ice cold bottles of Tiger, also Myanmar on tap, and a generator for power fails, and stays open later than most, not to mention the great pork fried noodles. This is convenient if you are staying at Soe Brothers; in case of power fail or rainstorm, it is a short walk back in the pitch dark.
- Tiger Hotel. Clean room with new fittings though the water is a bit rusty. Price includes breakfast, aircon and TV. $20 single, $25 double. edit
- Parami Hotel. Used by tour groups. Price includes breakfast, aircon and TV. $30-35 for a double; $10 for twinbed with fan and no bath.. edit
- Soe Brothers Guesthouse, No.(2/146), Thitsar Street, Hpa-an township, ☎ 058-21372 / 09-49771823. email: email@example.com Basic and grotty rooms with shared baths. The staff can speak English and arrange day-long tours of temples and caves surrounding Hpa An. The tour is highly recommended and not expensive (price depends on number of people on the tour -30,000 kyat for the day for up to 6 people - so if you can get 6 people, its 5,000 Kyat/person for the full day). Has very good wifi. $5 for a dorm bed $12 for a double and $7 for a single (April 2015). edit
- Golden Sky Guesthouse, Great place near the water, and main pagoda. Third floor has a beautiful common area with views looking over the water. Big double rooms are $20-$25 (in low season) with cable, wifi, aircon and private bath. Lonely Planet listed the owners as "surly" but they were very nice and accommodating. The staff can arrange day-long tour for 30,000 Kyat. edit
- Than Lwan O Guest House, 2 Thida st (From Soe Brothers GH, walk up north, pass the market & the mosque and turn left at the end of the street, purple building), ☎ 05821513. Guest house with slow WiFi as in most of the places in Myanmar. The rooms are moldy and are having very bad smell. AC is working, but extremely loud only. Staff is less motivated, but provides a rather good map of the town & surroundings. Rental bikes are okay -7000. Common space is, as the balconys on the ground floor, towards a midden with a bad smell of wastewater, on the other side towards the street. 7000 single, 10000 double bed, 12000 twin beds (fan, shared bathroom) - $15 double bed with attached bathroom and AC. edit
- Galaxy Motel. Nice, newly renovated motel opened in May 2014, that you will find easily: it´s a 3-story, white, glass window building at the end of the "Soe Brothers" street, just in front of Twan Lang O Guest House. The staff is wonderful, especially the young girl (Omayar) who speaks English really well. Rooms with air con, brand new medium size fridge, wifi in room and private hot water bathroom. They also have good condition motorbikes to rent (both automatic/manual). Single 15 USD, Twin 20 USD. Breakfast add $1. edit
- Hin Thar Guest House, (From Soe Brothers GH walk north and it will be on your right before passing the mosque), ☎ (058) 21119. Cheap digs. 4,000-7,000 single, 8,000 and up double. Woman speaks a little English. Cheap 4,000 kyat rooms are cells on upper floor and fan cooled. If you're aiming for one of these rooms try for a room at either end of the hall so you have a window. edit
Please note that there are multiple Than Lwin Hotels/Guesthouses in Hpa An and unless you specify to a mototaxi which one, you will be dropped off at the nearest one. Please make certain you are left at the hotel where you intended to be left at / had a reservation with.
- Yangon AC buses depart at 6:30AM, 7:30AM, 8:30AM, 9:30AM, 1:00PM, 7:00PM from the junction just south of Soe Brothers GH. They all cost 5000k (March 2014) and supposedly take 6 hours (might be 8 to 9 in reality). Arrive at Aung Mingalar bus station, where you can take bus 43 (200k) to Sule Paya; unless you arrive too late and have to take a taxi for 5000k. There is one "VIP bus" costing 6000k and dropping you closer to downtown Yangon, but you'll still have to take a taxi (1500k) to reach Sule Paya area.
- There are utes/pickup trucks with bench seats in the back that seem to go every hour to Kyaiko from the same junction in Hpa-an. Cost is 3000K. Not a very safe way to travel.
- Thailand: to reach the Thai border (to Mae Sot: Several departures in the morning, 4-9 hours. You may find a shared taxi (8,000- 10,000k) or hire a car (about 30,000kyat). The route used to be one-way only (changing direction every day) but the construction of a new road avoiding the last narrow part is almost completed. As of March 2015 most cars already take the new road, allowing circulation in both directions every day. The new road also dramatically shortens the trip as it bow takes 45min to pass over the mountain instead of 3h on the old road. The overall trip in a car will take between 4h (car taking the new road and not stopping forever for lunch) and 9h (bus taking the old road). Check the situation before taking the route and plan ahead if you have to leave before your visa expires or if you have a flight to catch on the Thai side.