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Kayin State (Hpa An)

Hpa-An is the photogenic capital and the largest and most populated city of Karen State (also known as Kayin State), on the Than Lwin river in Myanmar. About a 7-hour drive southeast from Yangon, the town is surrounded by Karst mountains and is great place for short, scenic treks. Outside of town there are seas of green rice paddies backed by Karst rock formations. Mt. Zwegabin is the most prominent “rock”, and can be climbed in a couple of fairly strenuous hours, but the views are a spectacular reward. The biggest draw of HpaAn for many, are the limestone caves in that serve as amazing natural Buddhist temple shrines.

Places of interest

Saddar Cave

An enormous cave with a reclined Buddha and other religious monuments. Saddan cave, meaning Royal Elephant cave marked by 2 stone elephants at the base of the stairway leading up to the cave. The entrance chamber has a large reclining Buddha as well as other statues and gold tablets on the walls. From here steps lead up into the main cave passage which is more or less a single passage with a short side passage almost half way through the most specular cave in Myanmar. At the end of the cave, there is another cave across the meadow and a lake. You can take a boat ride across the lake and pass through another cave back to the main entrance of the Saddar Cave There are two access dirt roads from the east and west.

Kawgun Cave

Kawgun Cave located near Kawgun village, which is two miles distance from Hpa An township. It is a natural lime stone cave and measures 200 fts height and 300 fts length. The rock surfaces are profusely decorated with different kinds of clay Buddha images and votive tablets. It is a rare cave in the lower Myanmar. According to the style of the Buddha images it can be datable to 15th century A.D. Hanthawaddy period.

Bat cave

An absolute must-see, the bat cave is a small cave that cannot be entered but you can go there for sunset when, literally, 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.