Hpa-an in Myanmar: At sunrise on Mount Zwegabin

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The idyllic Hpa-an and its lush green surroundings were one of our highlights during our trip through Myanmar. Our bus hadn’t even arrived before we fell in love with the beautiful landscape of green limestone cliffs. At that point we didn’t know that the view from Mount Zwegabin would top that again.

In this blog article we’ll tell you, which sights and experiences you shouldn’t miss in Hpa-an in Myanmar. This includes, above all, climbing Mount Zwegabin – our most sweaty, but also one of the most impressive experiences in all of Myanmar.

1. Hpa-an Overview: Limestone Cliffs and Caves Hpa-an is about six hours east by bus away from Yangon and is the exact opposite of the big city chaos. Sure, in the center of 50.000 Inhabitant-city is bustling here too, but the rest of Hpa- and above all the surroundings are pure idyll. Nestled between the Thanlwin River and the limestone cliffs, Hpa-an is certainly one of the most scenic destinations in Myanmar.

Most visitors are drawn to the impressive stalactite caves, of which there are plenty around Hpa-an. The Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda is also very popular: In the middle of a small lake, on the top of a steep, green-covered rock, a pagoda towers into the sky. The Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda is rightly one of the most photographed sights in Hpa-an.

Our personal highlight in Hpa-an we found on top of Mount Zwegabin. The sunrise view was one of our most beautiful moments of our Myanmar trip.

2. Climbing Mount Zwegabin For hours we debated back and forth whether we should tackle the arduous climb of Mount Zwegabin should take us. Ultimately we made it through to it. Luckily! Because – so much can already be revealed – the view at dawn really makes up for all the effort!

Yes, you read that right: dawn. Most people start their hike to the summit after sunrise, but we really wanted to see the sunrise from up there admire above. Not an easy task for two late risers like us: At 4: 00 our alarm clock rang at 4: 40 Our hike started.

The hike to the top of Mount Zwegabin 800 Altitude meters have to be covered – a sweaty undertaking, as you can certainly imagine. Most of the way consists of steps – and these are sometimes in very good condition and sometimes hardly (anymore) available. There are handrails to stop at some sections, but here and there you have to be content with tree roots or logs. That means: The path including the steps is very irregular and you have to be careful where you step.

Except for a few very short flat stretches, it is always uphill. And although we started out in the middle of the night, so to speak, ours were T-shirts completely sweaty within a very short time. We have the monastery at the summit at 6: 15 achieved. All in all, we were a little more than 1.5 hours on the road – 1.5 hours that admittedly felt like an eternity. Because although we are both quite fit, the hike was very hard for us. Apropos: It got really strenuous a second time, namely when going downhill. We hardly had any strength left in our legs. We would have preferred to have stayed where we were, but somehow we gritted our teeth and made it back down to the valley.

What you should note should, if you also leave before sunrise: Take enough water with you: 1.5 liters per person is the minimum. The path is pitch black. Without light you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. Be sure to take a torch with you. We borrowed one from the hotel. In extreme emergencies, the smartphone flashlight will do. Sunrise varies by month, so check the actual time in advance. By the way: We didn’t meet a single other hiker on our way up. We were the only people far and wide. Only when we were going downhill did people keep coming towards us.

How to get to the starting point for the hike up Mount Zwegabin: The hiking trail to the summit starts directly behind the Lubini Garden, that vast field on which over 1000 Buddha statues stand. Just ride the scooter past the Buddhas until you get in line. You can park in the small parking lot . The hiking trail starts directly behind it.

By the way, it is a good distance from the center of Hpa-an: approx. 15 minutes by scooter you should plan at least. If you don’t want to drive a scooter, you can also take a private taxi. But ask the driver to pick you up again.

By the way, there is a small entrance fee of 4.000 Kyat, that you have to pay on the spot. When we were there in the morning, however, nobody was there to take care of it. We only know that there is an entrance fee because we had already visited the Lumbini Garden the day before.

3. Other Sightseeings in Hpa-an Most visitors to Hpa-an head for a Organized temple and cave tour. So you can head for a lot of sights in a relatively short time. We decided to go to the caves and temples with our own scooter . As a result, we didn’t see quite as many caves, but all the more of the beautiful nature. We would do it again anytime!

Sadan Cave Of course we didn’t want to miss the largest cave Hpa-ans. Therefore we have the approx. 30 minute scooter ride across sand tracks . The dimensions of Sadan Cave are really impressive. What bothered us, however: As unfortunately very often in Myanmar, horrible LED lights flash and shine at you here on all corners. When Buddha figures suddenly wear neon-colored luminous crowns, the fun stops for us.

In addition, the cave didn’t make a very neat impression on us. Unfortunately, this is also not uncommon in Myanmar. Nevertheless, we are glad to have paid a visit to the Sadan Cave.

From the entrance you go through the cave about 15 minutes before you reach the exit on the other side. Here you have two options. Variant A (not recommended): You go all the way back through the cave. Variant B (highly recommended): You ask one of the boat drivers at the exit to drive you back. The short boat trip was clearly our highlight when visiting the Sadan Cave. We have 6 for two.00 Kyat paid.

Other Caves in Hpa-an Sadan Cave is the largest cave in Hpa-an, but there are many more. But since we preferred to spend our time in the great outdoors, we limited ourselves to this one. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the Bat Cave. Shortly before sunset, thousands of bats fly out of the cave into the open. That must be quite a spectacle. The Kawgon Cave with its impressive rock carvings.

Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda The typical Hpa-an postcard motif is a little south of the town center: The Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda is idyllically situated in the middle of a lake. Its special feature: The pagoda is located on the top of a steep cliff – a very bizarre sight. We were there just before sunset and really liked the atmosphere at that time of the day.

The rice fields around Hpa-an We can also highly recommend exploring the rice fields around Hpa-an by scooter (you can find out more about scooter riding in Hpa-an below in this article). From the town center you drive south (along the road “Yone Kone”). This road also leads to the entrance for climbing Mount Zwegabin. About 500 Meters before you get to Keinnara Hpa-an, turn right onto a gravel road. Follow this path and after a short time you will be surrounded by beautiful rice fields.

Our tip: The rice fields can be perfectly combined with a visit to the Kyauk Ka Combine Lat Pagoda. If you follow the described path, you will reach the pagoda at the end.

Lumbini Garden Not an absolute must-see, but the Lumbini Garden is somehow impressive. The word “garden” is relatively misleading, because it is actually more of an incredibly spacious field, on which over one thousand Buddha statues stand . You can ideally combine a visit to the Lumbini Garden with a hike up Mount Zwegabin, as this starts directly behind it. Admission for both together costs 4. Kyat per person.

4. Our hotel tip: Keinnara Hpa-An The Keinnara Hpa-An (formerly Hpa-an Lodge) is currently the most beautiful and at the same time probably the most expensive accommodation in Hpa-an. Although we had set our daily budget for Myanmar much lower, we just couldn’t resist and decided to spend two nights at Keinnara Hpa-An.

Well, what shall we say? We have not regretted our decision for a single second. The Keinnara Hpa-An is a dream of accommodation. In total there is only 20 “Cottage”, i.e. detached bungalows. Here you can enjoy the absolute tranquility far away from any hustle and bustle. We were particularly lucky with our cottage: we had a magnificent view of the mountains from our terrace. The breakfast is a la carte and was fantastic.

That the Keinnara Hpa-An is not in the center but about 20 minutes away, has didn’t bother us for a second, because with our scooter we were mobile anyway. (In addition, we

If you want to treat yourself to a bit of luxury in Myanmar, then we can No Nara Hpa-An really from heartily recommend. We felt completely comfortable. By the way, for our double room we have per night 40 Euro paid.

Here you can book the hotel: Keinnara Hpa-An

5. Our Favorite Restaurants in Hpa-an Thai Village Restaurant Very tasty and authentic Thai Food is served at Thai Village Restaurant. The selection for us as vegetarians was unfortunately somewhat limited, but the dishes tasted really excellent . In addition, the prices are very cheap : For the two of us together we have just 7000 Kyat, i.e. paid a little more than 4 euros, even though we drank a beer.

The Thai Village Restaurant is located outside the town center on the opposite side of the river. If you come by scooter, then coming from the center cross the bridge (Than Lwin Bridge). Then look left for a sign with the name of the restaurant. From the main road you still have to drive through a few small alleys, but don’t worry: the way is signposted.

Veranda Youth Community Café You know us: We never miss an opportunity to look for good coffee close. And while that’s a bit of a challenge in Myanmar, we found what we were looking for at the Veranda Youth Café.

The concept behind the café is also pretty cool: It sees itself as a large community for young people in the region. With the Veranda Youth Community Café, they should find a place where they can linger.

6. Scooter Riding in Hpa-an Unlike many tourist places such as Bagan or Ngapali, it is tourist in Hpa-an currently (as of December 801) nor allowed to rent an ordinary scooter. We have for one day 8. Kyat paid.

Driving went smoothly, but you have to be prepared for the fact that the road conditions are sometimes poor. In addition, many paths (including those to Sadan Cave) are only sand tracks. You get a lot of dust when riding a scooter. (We tended to avoid white clothes in Hpa-an because they don’t stay white for long.)

7. Travel Guide for Myanmar We can highly recommend the Stefan Loose Travel Guide for Myanmar. As we are used to from this publisher, the travel guide is well researched. This makes the book itself a bit heavy, but we are happy to accept this disadvantage.

You can buy the travel guide here: Stefan Loose Travel Guide Myanmar

8th. More Myanmar Travel Reports Our route for Myanmar Our travel guide for Myanmar: Tips for a trip to Myanmar Yangon Bago Golden Rock Inle Lake The Temples of Bagan Mandalay Ngapali
Transparency: Affiliate Links
This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. cool thing right? A thousand thanks from both of us!

Do you know Hpa-an in Myanmar and have maybe more testimonials? Or are you planning to travel to Hpa-an soon and maybe you have a question? We look forward to your comment!