Hpa An is a beautiful serene town which is a great first place to stay if you cross the overland border from Thailand because it is around a 3-5 hour drive from the Maesot-Myawaddy border.
Kan Thar Yar Bridge and Lake
Start at canadian medshop Kan Thar Yar bridge which crosses a beautiful lake with a mountainous backdrop. If you take a walk across the bridge and around the lake early morning you will see many locals fishing, exercising and generally getting on with life on their usually lovely smiley way.
The gorgeous Kan Thar Yar lake will only take around 10-15 minutes to walk to from the centre of town (the clock tower area). It is lovely and peaceful in the early morning. You may wish to walk around the lake so it could be worth planning around an hour for your time there. Directions from the clock tower: Walk 50m along the main road to the traffic lights. Turn right at the lights. Follow the road for around 15 minutes. The road bends round the the right, don’t panic, just keep following the road. You will pass Kan Thar Yar guest house and then see the lake.
Climb mount Zwegabin and stay in the monastery
This may well be a highlight of your trip to Myanmar so it is well worth budgeting the time for. You can get to Zwegabin by motorbike, bicycle, taxi (motor bike taxi or tuk tuk style taxis) or even by hitch hiking. It is possible to trek up and down in a single day- however staying in the monastery at the top is an incredible experience which enables you to take in the atmosphere of the mountain at dusk and dawn.
Kayauk Kalap Lake and Monastery
Leaving here you cross the junction and head west to Kayauk Kalap lake and monastery. aside from the main temple, you can walk across a little bridge to visit the impressive rock and place of worship. When entering, you must remove shoes and they typically greet you with a small yellow bracelet before you climb the little windy steps that wrap around the enchanted and quirky rock.
Further west bound there are several caves to explore. To get to the Bat Cave you take a right off the main road and through a little village. As the name suggests, there is a cave with bats in it; however they only open the cave itself at 6pm. The place does stink of Guano (bat poo!) and you have to go barefoot for much of it, as it’s also a temple. Nice! After several questionable ladders you are rewarded with a beautiful view of the river.
Kaw Goon Cave
Also referred to as Kaw Goon cave, it is on the other side of the main road that comes off the bridge. Leaving the bat cave you can take the road that wraps around and under the bridge before taking a small south bound cement country road to the cave. If you haven’t been anywhere like this before, it is worth exploring. There are ancient carvings and inscriptions all over the walls of the cave. Over time they have built many newer Buddha statues inside. It comprises mostly of an entrance lined with Buddhas, a large enclosed laying Buddha and a cave with many inscriptions and newly built Buddha statues, including a sparkly disco one towards the back … not sure how else to describe it.
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