Kyat Kalat Pagoda

Hpa-an’s Kyauk Kalat Pagoda is a stunning stupa-topped limestone pinnacle, set on a tiny isle dotted with monastic buildings itself set in a lake fluttering with white egrets and surrounded by paddy. With Mount Zwegabin as the dramatic backdrop, it’s a gorgeous sight.

Kan thar Yar Lake

Scenic Kan Thar Yar Lake lies just on the south side of Hpa-an and aside from making a convenient waypoint for a stroll around town it’s a worthwhile destination in its own right.

Shwe Yin Myaw Pagoda

This riverside pagoda is like a landmark pagoda of Hpa-Ann for local people. Located near the main market and perfect place to see the sun going down with the Than Lwin River.

Zwegabin Mountain

The massive and dramatic limestone outcrop known as Zwegabin dominates the landscape around Hpa-an. At some 725 metres, this is the highest and largest of the myriad jagged karst formations that jut abruptly out of the otherwise pancake flat paddy-fields here. The Karen consider the outcrap sacred and it has become Kayin State’s symbol.

Lumbini Garden

Named after the mythical Nepalese birthplace of Buddha, though commonly known as Buddha Park, Lumbini Gardens are not really gardens as such, but are rather home to several hundred neatly aligned, seated Buddha images.

Saddar Cave

A visit to wonderful Saddar Cave is one of Kayin State’s highlights. The limestone karst scenery of Zwegabin and the numerous jagged, mountainous outcrops sprouting abruptly from the paddy surrounding Hpa-an host myriad spectacular caves. Saddar (sometimes written Saddan) involves a cave temple but also a hike through underground passages to the far side of a mountain and a return by wooden boat. It really is something special.

Ya Thay Pyan Cave

Ya Thea Pyan Cave was known in the colonial literature as P'agat Cave. The current name Ya Thea Pyan translates as Hermit Cave (as Ya Thea mean hermit). The cave is in a hill next to Kawgon Cave.

A concrete staircase leads up to the cave. The entrance chamber contains many Buddhas and a statue of the hermit. Behind the reclining Buddha is a natural pool of ‘holy’ water. The main chamber is large. A route leads down to lower muddy areas. Going up towards the back of the main chamber leads to a very impressive upper entrance, with a couple of wooden ladders to aid progress. There are some huge dry stals at the top, well lit by sunlight.

Bayin Nyi Cave

Bayin Nyi Cave is home to an elaborate and sprawling temple, with plenty of almost Disney-esque coloured buildings laid out at the foot of sheer limestone cliffs.

Kawgun Cave

One of the region’s most spectacular caves, Kawgun is found in a small limestone outcrop just over the river from Hpa-an off the Thaton Highway. Amazing Buddhist carvings and stucco work line the shallow caverns and limestone cliffs, and are said to date back as far as the seventh century. A few ancient Hindu images remain and bear witness to the area’s former religious diversity.

Kaw Kathaung Cave

Kaw Kathaung is another usual stop off in any Zwegabin day tour. Various religious buildings and statues lie outside the entrance to the shallow cave temple at the foot of the limestone cliff, including an unusual maze on the right just before the gate to the main compound. Follow the rough track along the base of the cliff and you’ll see several other shrines and small caves before arriving at a sacred spring spouting from the rock face.