Hpa-An Myanmar. Sadan Cave & the Thousand Buddhas via motorbike.

Planning on visiting Hpa-An in your Myanmar itinerary? Here is everything you need to know.

Having arrived in Hpa-An the previous day, straight from a 15 hour night bus I felt monumentally underwhelmed by what the town had to offer. There appeared to be no atmosphere, no hustle and bustle and not much interesting to see. Although my opinion of the town itself only slightly improved once I was well rested and fed, once you get yourself out of the centre of Hpa-An Myanmar, there are some serious sights to be seen.

After a decent night’s sleep and a surprisingly good breakfast at the Galaxy Motel we headed out on our motorbike for the day. First stop, the Saddan Caves. It took little over 30 minutes to drive to the caves with the first half being a breeze, and the second half of the drive being a little more challenging. Adam battling all of the bumps, lumps and sludge that Myanmar’s roads have to offer; and me clinging on for dear life.

But my word are the caves worth it. Be prepared for some dirty feet as the floor of the caves are somewhat flooded and like all Buddhist monuments, you will be expected to remove your shoes at the door. There is only a 1000 Kyat charge to enter and once inside the caves you will be greeted with a numerous pagodas and a huge leaning buddha. It will take around an hour to wander through the caves and admire all their beauty. As a non-Buddhist, this is the most impressive part. The height and magnitude of the stalagmites and stalactites are fantastic to see, as well as the hundreds of thousands of bats flying above your head. Sounds a little creepy but it’s actually really cool.

Once through the other side of the caves I was amazed by the view. Vast amounts of water sitting in front of the fantastic mountainous backdrop, and the best part? For 2000 Kyat you can take a rowing boat around the caves back to the entrance. The view from the water is truly breath-taking. The rowing boats have no motor, making the return journey very tranquil; allowing the passengers to see a side of Myanmar yet to be discovered.

Hpa-An Myanmar
Hpa-An Myanmar

After the Saddan caves we set off on the what-should-have-been fifteen-minute drive to the 1000 Buddhas. The dirt roads were even more unstable here. We made it to the 1000 Buddhas within 25 minutes and were amazed from the second we drove inside.

As you drive down the long entrance path you are literally surrounded with the Buddhas which are incredible to see. Each one a replica of the previous; with the differences that only time and weather has created. We paid our 500 Kyat to park the motorbike in a locked compound and headed out on foot to explore. I was a little surprised to see a ski lift in the centre of the park, but for a very reasonable 1000 Kyatt each we jumped in and witnessed a fantastic and unique view of the Buddhas. As travelling in off-season, we were pretty much the only foreign tourists there, so posing for photos and chatting with each and every local became a big part of the afternoon.

Once we were suitably sweaty and exhausted we headed to Verdana café for a late lunch. This café is situated near Kan Thar Yar Lake and has one of the best atmospheres we found in Hpa-An; the service is fantastic, the food is decent and the drinks are delicious. I would seriously recommend this place to anyone visiting Hpa-An Myanmar.

I must stress that unless you’re willing to splash out on hiring a private driver; hiring a motorbike really is the only way to see Hpa-An Myanmar. I wouldn’t recommend spending longer an 2 nights in Hpa-An but if you have the time to squeeze the city into your Myanmar itinerary, it’s well worth the trip.

Hpa-An Myanmar
Hpa-An Myanmar

Deciding where else to visit in Myanmar? Be sure not to miss the golden rock and the temples of Bagan.

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