Myanmar is proven to be one of the next destination for travelers in SouthEast Asia. After hearing unique travel stories of this country from the travelers I met on the road, it kept on playing my head, thus, 2 years after knowing I finally visit and explore the place.
With the various recommendation from few other travelers, I decided to surprise myself. Let alone discover the country more when I already set foot their land. Traveling solo to this country was a questioned that people keep buzzing in my feed whenever I post my whereabouts, asking “Is it safe to travel to Myanmar solo?” over and over again, that up to this day, I still would always say – Yes, it is safe.
Hpa-an in #Myanmar was the first town that I explored on this country, I traveled almost 5 hours from #Myawaddy border to this place. No one knows how much happiness it brought this country to my heart that until now it still made me smile. I traveled solo here yet the locals made me feel that I am not alone. I so love Myanmar. . . . . . #photographers #photo #picture #ipfanphoto #awesome_photographers #TBScommnunity #TLPicks #travelstroke #passionpassport #livetravelchannel #forbestravelguide #wearetravelgirls #letsgoeverywhere #canonfanphoto #wonderful_places #travelingourplanet #goingplaces #LiveTravelChannel #bbctravel #travelgoals #femalesolotraveler #digitalnomadgirls #wearetravelgirls #femaletravelblogger #girlslovetravel
The very first town I went to was in Hpa-an, a town situated at the South Eastern part of Myanmar which is also the capital of the Karen or Kayin state.
After 5 hours drive from the Myawaddy border, I found myself haggling prices at Soe Brothers Guesthouse. Since I only plan to stay overnight in this town, I immediately book a room and a tour that starts right away after I settled my luggage in the room.
It was already 4:30 in the afternoon when everyone joining the “bat cave” tour gathered outside the guesthouse. After 30 minutes drive to Linno Cave, we arrived in a solemn place where a Buddha and a temple visibly situated outside the cave. We were about 9 in the group, and the only tourists who came along with the 3 locals we saw on top of the cave who called us to come to them for a nice ambiance.
At the top, the amazing river stunned me with its natural charm. It was one of the amazing picturesque landscape I first witnessed of the country. The less crowded tourist spot brought a great joy to everyone who was there as we heard the echoing voice of the birds, flying over the river, where the clear view of the water seen beautifully. The boats floating, the ship moving towards its destination, with the water in the river that strikingly gives an impression of relaxation and soothing the calmness within. I abide the shadow of the sun as it was about to set.
Less than an hour after we toured the place, at exactly 6 pm, the bats from the cave slowly appearing out from their territory. That was my first time to witness thousands of bats come out from their shelter. Personally, it was an experience that brought pure happiness to me. When these bats came out from the cave, they all flock together going to the same direction, forming their own set of an army. It was a bonus that the weather was so good that these bats went to the way where the sunset was. These bats come back the next day at 6 AM.
After about 20 minutes embracing the moment when all the bats came out, we went back to the meeting place and decided to have a dinner as it was already night time. Hpa-an is really a small town that only a few restaurants are open, all owned by a local according to the people there. The landlord of the guest house suggested San Ma Tau Myanmar Restaurant. It was a good place where we only saw locals eating. The food is good with lots of variation plus free side dishes and desserts.
From a good dinner, I headed straight to the guest house along with the others. It was time to bed to wake up for an early call time for the next day’s adventure.
Clocked in at 7 AM when I was ready for breakfast. A small local restaurant known for best breakfast meal was about 300m walk from the guesthouse which was highly recommended by the receptionist. All that was served were deep fried food and nothing else we can have a different kind of meal. Instead, a very hot coffee was served that somehow helped my need for an energy.
Our scheduled tour was from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM to 7 different destinations. I went to 6 spots only, my scheduled bus to Inle Lake leaves at 5:00 PM reason I need to skip the last destination.
The tour was named as “Amazing and Wonderful Tour” which is arranged by Soe Brothers Guesthouse. There are very few companies who arranged tours in Hpa-an, Soe Brothers Guesthouse is famous in the area.
Yathae Ryan Cave / P’agat Cave
First Stop was in Yathae Ryan Cave / P’agat Cave. There is a beautiful landscape on the way to this cave, the very first thing to notice on. The cave has so many Buddhas at the entrance, visibly seen from afar as it is an upper entrance. There is a reclining Buddha where a natural pool of Holy Water situated behind it.
Kawt Goon Cave or Kawgoon Cave
Kawt Goon Cave or Kawgoon Cave has thousands of tiny clay Buddhas and carvings on the walls and on the roof. Various arts on the ceiling, it is unfortunate that most tourists do not come to Hpa-an as this Kawt Goon Cave is one of the interesting places there is in Myanmar. There were old Hindu artifacts that probably are probably older than the rest of the complex. It is one of the important stops in all complex. Entrance is 3,000 Kyat.
Kyauk Ka Lat Temple
Kyauk Ka Lat Temple has a Pagoda built on a rock. It is gorgeous as the Mt. Zwekabin is right behind. There’s a bridge connecting to the rock from the mainland, a water surrounding the area looks amazing at that time but dried-up on a dry season which looks horrible as the guide mentioned to us. It is an artificial lake where the local government is busy constructing the rest of the area. There is a pavilion adjacent to the rock formation pagoda which is monumental.
Lumbini Garden is also known as Buddha Park located at the foot of Mt. Zwegabin through its limestone cliffs. Tourists who will climb to Mt. Zwegabin will start from this park. Lumbini is a place of numerous well organized seated Buddhas.
Natural Pool or Water Lake
On our fifth stop we went to their Natural Pool or Water Lake which was near Kyauk Ka Thaung Cave, it is where most of the local come to the place and bath as they said it’s somewhat related to religion. We only drop to this place for a very quick lunch and the only thing the guide mentioned is the natural pool for a refreshing swim.
The sixth spot and my last stop as well are the famous Saddan Cave. The cave is an 800m walk with one pathway heading to the lake. The passage is on a hill surrounded with Buddhas and pagodas. There is a huge reclining Buddha at the center of it with lights behind. There is an entrance of 3000 Kyat which they said it is for the lights that have been turned on whenever there are tourists coming in. Saddan is the top place to visit in Hpa-an. Apart from the various arts and designs inside the cave, bat caves and stalagmites are visible too.
The 7th place was supposed to be Kawt Kah Thuang Cave, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit the place.
I stayed in Hpa-an for 24 hours only, yet, there are various things that I have done and experience. Those places are honestly stunning, giving different impressions in each place we visited. It was the second week of May when I get the chance to visit Myanmar, we were informed that rainy season is not a good time to visit. Hpa-an is not widely visited by most tourists, in fact, a lot of people skip the place.
Hpa-an can also be roaming around with an e-bike or e-motorbike if you don’t opt to join any group tours.
Author: Ferna Mae
Ferna is from the Philippines who travel spontaneously. Thrives to be more independent in her own skin. She first traveled The Philippines first before she embarked to other countries. She believes that by traveling, her undying crave for learning excites her in a more profound way. Her flexibility had proven her that time is genuine. As a former tour guide in the Philippines, she hopes that her travel experiences will give value to the aspiring travelers. Connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org,