Hpa-an was my last stop in Myanmar before returning to Thailand. A fellow traveler (thank you Valerie!) that I previously met in Hsi-paw, recommended me to stay and do the one-day tuk tuk tour with Soe Brothers Guesthouse in Hpa-an. This turned out to be an amazing and fun experience, a perfect finish to my three weeks in Myanmar!
Time: 8:30 A.M. to 5:30 P.M.
There were close to 30 people booked for the one-day tuk tuk tour with Soe Brothers Guesthouse. We were divided into groups of 6 people per tuk tuk.
The last five people to book the tour had to pay 1000k more per person for the tour, as the price of 30000k per tuk tuk tour is divided by the number of people.
Our tuk tuk group consisted of 2 Swiss, 2 Dutch, 1 Vietnamese and me, a Pole. Everyone had a really good connection from the very beginning and we had a lot of fun together during the day.
We laughed, joked and got to know each other.
The most memorable about that day was actually not the caves and temples itself, but rather the fun atmosphere of the trip.
Another great thing about the tour was that you don’t have to worry about anything, just hop on and off the tuk tuk at each site and simply have a good time!
Most of the sites visited during the tour are Buddhist temples and pagodas hidden inside caves. The area around Hpa-an is mountainous and some of the temples were built centuries ago.
Here are some of the places that we visited during the tour:
Also known as Buddha Park, the Lumbini Garden is home to several hundred neatly aligned, seated Buddha statues. They are set at the foot of the 725-metre high Zwegabin mountain, which is also a good two hour hiking option (especially during sunset!).
We hopped off our tuk tuk again and found ourselves in front of another cave temple. Everything is a bit blurry now, as it was the 3rd or 4th cave that day. So I’m not sure which one it was, but there was a small swimming pool next to it. All the locals hung out at the pool, cooling off the from the hot weather.
Burmese people usually swim in their clothes, which for us foreigners was a bit weird, but this is simply the local culture. Showing off too much skin is not acceptable in Burma. So we jumped into the pool in our clothes, too.
The locals know how to have fun and you could see from their faces that everyone was having a good time. Kids were jumping in and out of the pool, adult sat at the nearby restaurant bars and watched the show.
This is the largest of all caves around Hpa-an, the Saddan Cave is the size of a football stadium! The entrance chamber of the cave features a giant reclining Buddha, pagodas and golden-painted frescoes.
The deeper we went into the cave, the darker it got, and above us, we heard and saw many bats.
We walked all the way through the Saddan Cave to the other side, under the mountain. It takes a good 10 minutes and the walk ends with an impressive view on a lake and surroundings.
Going down steps, we found ourselves by a small lake from where we took wooden longboats through a cave passage under the mountain.
The short boat trip finishes at beautiful rice paddies, from where a short hike along the hillside takes you back to the parking area.
The Kawt Ka Thaung Cave was the last stop on our tour. While the cave itself was not impressive, our tuk tuk driver gave the tour a perfect finish by pointing a hidden staircase up the hill to us. It led to some old ruins on top of the mountain, from where we could watch the setting sun.
This was a unique and spiritual moment for all of us.
Everyone kind of sat down and reflected in silence. Surrounded by the beautiful sunset and new friends, I felt grateful to this day and my whole trip.
Returning to Hpa-an, we all thanked our driver for the amazing time we had. In the evening, we went out together for beers and food. This was one of my best and happiest days in Myanmar.
6 people per tuk tuk is the most comfortable option. Book and put your name down for the tour as early as possible, as you may have to pay more if the last tuk tuk doesn’t book full
The Soe Brothers Guesthouse in Hpa-an is by far the most popular place to stay with backpackers. It gets very busy during the high season, so booking a good few days in advance is essential. I was lucky to get the last available single room with fan and shared bathroom for 7 USD.
The guesthouse has three floors, steep stairs will lead you up to the reception area on the second floor. There’s a common room on the second level and a balcony on the third floor, where travellers hang out together in the evenings.
The guesthouse offers motorbike and bicycle rental for 8000k and 2000k respectively.
- Dorm w/ shared bathroom ~5 USD
- Sgl fan w/ shared bathroom 7 USD
- Dbl fan w/ shared bathroom ~12-15 USD
- Dbl air-con w/ shared bathroom ~16 USD
- Dbl air-con w/ private bathroom 18-25 USD
- Good Wi-Fi, no breakfast.
Address: No.(2/146), Thitsar Street, Hpa-an
Booking: 058-21372 / 09-49771823