Are you an adventurer? We will take you up where you belong, far from the world you know, up where the clear winds blow-- to Mount Zwekabin, after a boat ride to Hpa-an up the Thanlwin River from Mawlamyine. This trip is complete with a relaxing dip at Baying Nyi Naung hot spring, boating trip to Bilu Kyun, and to the largest Reclining Buddha Image in Myanmar. The road is long, and there are mountains in our way, but we will be climbing every step of the way, including to the top of Mount Kyaikhtiyo, the "Golden Rock". All you have is here and now. All your life is out there to find.
Who knows what tomorrow brings. Don't live your life looking behind. All you have is here and now. All your life is out there to find, where the eagles cry, on the mountain high...
Day 01:Yangon - Bago - Kyaikhtyiyo
We will have a short rest in Bago 50 miles (80 km) away from Yangon on our way to Kyaikhtiyo.
Bago was founded as early as in 573 AD by Mon rulers from Thaton Kingdom, and it was known as Hanthawaddy. During 1369-1539, Hanthawaddy was the capital of the Mon Kingdom. Then the invading Burmese kings from Taungoo made Bago their royal capital from 1539-1599, and again from 1613-1634.
In fact, Bayinnaung, a well-known King in Burmese history had built a palace there called "Kanbawazthadi". Today, we will be visiting the excavated site of this palace within the square-walled city measuring 1.1 miles (1.8 km) on each side.
Other highlights of this trip are 55 meter long and 16 meter high Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha Image, and 144 meter tall Shwemawdaw Pagoda, the highest Pagoda in Myanmar (even higher than the Shwedagon in Yangon.)
From Bago, we will be driving another 80 miles (130 km) to Kim Pun Village at the base of Kyaikhtiyo. Many devotees prefer to walk up the 6.8 miles (11 kilometres) hiking trek to the top as part of the pilgrimage. Fortunately, there are rental trucks available with sufficient engine power to climb up to Ya-thaid-taung (spelling variant: Yatetaung) only 0.75 mile (1.2 km) away from the "Golden Rock", so we will just do that. We can arrange for you the front seat of one of those open trucks.
Ya-thaid-taung is the end of the road for all vehicles, so we will just have to climb up from there on foot. If you prefer to be more comfortable and majestic looking, you can go up in style on a sedan chair carried by four porters at an extra cost.
Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is a 24 feet (7.3 meter) tall small pagoda built on the boulder known as the "Golden Rock". This big piece of rock with a circumference of 50 feet (15 m), and 25 feet (7.6 m) in height is a natural wonder, which sits on the platform of the hilltop and protrudes out a few feet from the vertical edge. The area of contact at the base to the platform is very small, and it appears as though the rock is ready to roll any time!
Sunset view of Kyaikhtiyo and overnight at Mountain Top Hotel. (B)
Day 02: Drive to Mawlamyine
Breakfast at the hotel. If you get up early, you can catch the wonderful scene of the Golden Rock at dawn in colors and shades different from the sunset view.
Morning excursion around Kyaikhtiyo, the third most important pilgrimage site in Myanmar after Shwedagon in Yangon, and Mahamuni in Mandalay.
Return to the base camp, and meet your driver. We will be on the road again-- to Mawlawmyine, and the adventure continues.
We will be passing through Thaton along National Highway 8. During the 9th and 11th century, Thaton was the capital of Thaton Kingdom, a contemporary of Bagan kingdom in upper Burma. In 1057, King Anawrahta of Bagan conquered Thaton and brought the practice of Theravada Buddhism along with scores of educated monks, architects, tradesmen, and artisans to Bagan. That was the starting point of thousands of Bagan temples and arguably the Bagan civilization itself.
On the way to Mawlamyine, we will show you a secret less known to the outside world than the Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda. Nwa La Bo Pagoda is built on a rock on a hilltop just like Kyaikhtiyo, and by the look of its elongated shape and tilted angle, this rock and the Pagoda structure appears even more precarious and unbalanced than the Kyaikhtiyo.
The description of Nwa La Bo Pagoda in Burmese states that "Su Taung Pyaid San Daw Shin" Pagoda (the proper name which means Pagoda with the possession of the Buddha's Hair where all wishes come true) is located on top of Nwa La Bo Mountain. According to this, it was built five years earlier than the Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda by the same wizard, and he did this miraculous feat by positioning three rocks on top of each other, with a strand of the authentic Buddha's hair placed under the middle rock.
It is located in Mon state, Poun township, Kyone village, 4 miles up from Yankin Monastery at the base of Nwa La Bo mountain. You can go all the way up to the base of the rock either on foot along the trail under the shades of the trees and shadow of the mountain, or by trucks from the Yangon-Malamyine Highway all year around. There are festivities every year during the Thingyan period (around mid April).
(Note: there will be extra charges for the truck to go up the mountain, but it's worthwhile going up to see this fascinating place in person.)
We will reach Mawlamyine by sunset. Mawlamyine was the capital of British Burma from 1826 to 1852 and made known to the Western world by Rudyard Kipling's poem, and author George Orwell.
There is a Burmese saying: People in Mandalay are known for speaking, those in Yangon for bragging, and Mawlamyine folks for eating. We recommend Mya Than Lwin Restaurant on Strand Road for crab & lobster dinner.
Overnight at Cinderella Hotel in Mawlamyine.
Day 03: Excursion by boat to Bilu Kyun and Drive to South of Mawlamyine
Breakfast at the hotel and travel by a ferry for approximately one hour to Bilu Kyun, a big island to the west of Mawlamyine. Mon natives on the island, such as those on the village of Ywa Loot are known for their skills in making very neat hand-made products. For example, in the past, they made smoking pipes with excellent quality just like expensive Dunhill pipes.
Other home industries of the present day include making ballpoint pens, rubber bands, coconut-fiber ropes and other items of daily necessities. You might come across a few small souvenir items to bring back home. (Note: working schedules of those workshops depend on demand for their products, and therefore they may be closed without prior notice.)
Time permitting, stop at one of the local tea shops for refreshment.
Excursion by boat to Gaungse Kyun (Shampoo Island). This picturesque island off Mawlamyaing's north-western end is named after the annual royal hair-washing ceremony during the Ava period, which made use of natural spring water from this island.
Back to the mainland to see a colossal Reclining Buddha Image called Win Sein Taw Ya about 12 miles (20 km) to the south of Mawlamyine. This huge structure built on the hill side with rooms inside is 180 meters long and 30 meters high.
Overnight at Cinderella Hotel in Mawlamyine.
Day 04 : Boat Trip to Hpa An
From Mawlamyine, board on a chartered boat for an early morning departure to Hpa An. The charges are approximately 70,000 kyat for the whole boat. It is possible to pre-arrange the trip so that you can go along with other 5 to 10 tourists on the share basis, which will bring down the cost to 10,000 kyat to 15,000 kyat per head count. The trip will take about 5 hours up the Thanlwin river with half-way stop at Htone I village for meal and a short rest.
Important note: Tour Guide cannot accompany you on the tourist-only boat. You need to bring food and drinks by yourself. Your Guide will reach Hpa-an by car ahead of you and will wait for you at the jetty.
Overnight at Zwe Ka Bin Hotel in Hpa-an.
Day 05 : Explore Hpa An and surroundings
Hpa-an with the population of 50,000 is the capital of Kayin State. It is a busy trade and commerce center inhibited mainly by Kayin people-- a large number of them are Christians (Baptists). Farmers from rural areas all around the region come to this town in horse-carts or trishaws with baskets of fruits and grains to sell in the market. You will have plenty of time to browse through the market, stroll along the breezy riverfront, and appreciate the natural beauty of this south eastern state of a Southeast Asian Nation.
Here's the adventure part of this trip. Climb Mount Zwekabin up the mountain trail with monkeys in natural setting. This will be a demanding, and yet thrilling two hour hike. You will have a breathtaking view of Kayin State from the top.
Visit Saddar Cave, a football stadium size cavern with Buddha statues and pagodas inside. We will also be visiting Kawgun and Yathapyan caves if time permits.
Visit Shwe Yin Myaw Pagoda, and our Hpa-an Adventure will conclude at the town hall for the best view of the distinctively shaped Mount Zwekabin in the background.
Overnight at Zwe Ka Bin Hotel in Hpa-an.
Day 06: Baying Nyi Naung Gu and Back to Yangon
After breakfast at the hotel, we will drive back to Yangon by crossing Thanlwin river on Hpa-an bridge, and head towards Thaton in Mon State. Stop to visit Baying Nyi Naung Gu, a natural limestone cave with hot springs reputed to have healing powers. The springs are divided into three pools: one for the monks, one for the ladies and another for gentlemen (yes, adventurers and Indiana Jones included). We should be back in Yangon by the late evening. The adventures for this tour end here, but if you still have the time and energy, you may want to explore other parts of Myanmar with our other tour packages.
There will be hotel discounts if you visit between April and end of September, however due to heavy rains and potential landslides during the rainy season, a trip to Kyaikhtiyo will not be available during most of those months. Contact us for low season rates without Kyaikhtiyo trip.Economy Hotels
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