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Mount Zwekabin, Hpa-an

Bago - Kyaikhtiyo - Thaton - Nwa La Bo - Mawlamyine - Bilu Kyun - Gaungse Kyun - Win Sein Taw Ya - Hpa-an - Zwekabin - Baying Nyi Naung Cave [6D5N]

(Code: AP11)

Southern Myanmar Adventures

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.

Day Summary Hotel Remarks
1 Drive to Kyaikhtiyo. Visit Bago on the way. Sunset at Kyaikhtiyo. [detail] Mountain Top
2 Drive to Mawlamyine. Visit Nwa La Bo Pagoda on the way past Thaton town. [detail] Cinderella (breakfast)
3 Excursion by boat and vehicle to Bilu Kyun and Gaungse Kyun. Visit the Largest Reclining Buddha Image in Myanmar. [detail] Cinderella (breakfast)
4 Take chartered boat with other tourists, or alone to Hpa An. [detail] Zwe Ka Bin (breakfast)
5 Exploration of Hpa An and surrounding caves and mountains, including Mount Zwekabin. [detail] Zwe Ka Bin (breakfast)
6 Visit Baying Nyi Naung Cave on the way back to Yangon. [detail] (breakfast)
City Hotel Category Rating
Kyaikhtiyo Mountain Top Hotel Standard 2 stars
Pha-an Hotel Zwekabin Superior 3 stars
Mawlamyine Cinderella Hotel Superior 2 stars
Services Include:
  1. English Speaking guide.
  2. Meals according to itinerary / Breakfast box in stead of ABF when early morning flight is scheduled.
  3. Porter fees at the airport where guide service is booked.
  4. Boat (or) Flight ticket according to itinerary.
  5. Ground transportation in private A/C vehicle (complimentary cold towels & drinking water.)
  6. Sightseeing include admissions fees according to the itinerary.
  7. Accommodation in hotels as mentioned above or equivalent.
Services Exclude:
  1. International and domestic airport tax
  2. Visa fees, drinks, personal expenses

Detailed Itinerary

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.

Shwemawdaw Pagoda, Bago

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.)

Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda on the Golden Rock

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.

Highway to Mawlamyine

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.

Nwa La Bo Pagoda

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.)

Thanlwin Bridge, Mawlamyine

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.

[See more photos of Thanlwin Bridge and entrance to Mawlamyine: 1 | 2 | 3 ]

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.

[See Win Sein Reclining Buddha from an another angle]

[See statues of 100 monks going for alms along the road side leading to Win Sein Taw Ya]

Overnight at Cinderella Hotel in Mawlamyine.

Day 04: Boat Trip to Hpa An

River boat in 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 Bridge

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.

Kaw Gunn Cave, Hpa-an

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.

[See more photos of Kaw Gunn Cave: 1 | 2 | 3

Overnight at Zwe Ka Bin Hotel in Hpa-an.

Day 06: Baying Nyi Naung Gu and Back to Yangon

Baying Nyi Naung Cave

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.


Due to heavy rains and potential landslides during the rainy season, a trip to Kyaikhtiyo may not be available during the rainy season from mid June to September. Contact us for more info.

Package Price

The package price depends on several factors such as group size, with or without tour guide, whether or not the tour guide follows you all the way or just a local guide to pick you up at the hotel, whether or not some trips are skipped, latest exchange rate, hotels of your choice, seasonal variations and possibility of special promotions by the hotels. The package can be customized to fit your needs. Please tell us more about your preferences.

Asia Pearl Travels
28 Khaymar Street, Sanchaung
Yangon, Myanmar

U Kyaw Soe Oo
Maun Maun Tin
Myat Phyo Phyo
Win Aung
Zaw Gyi
Jonathan Min
Zaw Min
“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...”

Myanmar Tour Packages:

AP1: Yangon - Mandalay - Amarapura - Mingun - Bagan - Nyaung U - Inle [8D7N]

AP3: Yangon - Kyaikhtiyo - Bago - Mandalay - Mingun - Bagan - Heho [7D6N]

AP4: Yangon - Mandalay - Mingun - Amarapura - Ava - Sagaing - Bagan - Mt. Popa - Heho - Kalaw Trekking - Indein - Inle [11D10N]

AP6: Yangon - Kyaikhtiyo - Bago - Mandalay - Mingun - Amarapura - Ava - Sagaing - Pyin Oo Lwin - Bagan - Inle - Pindaya - Indein [10D9N]

AP8: Mrauk U - Sittwe [6D5N]

AP9: Yangon - Mandalay - Mingun - Bagan - Inle [5D4N]

AP10: Yangon - Kyaikhtiyo - Mandalay - Mingun - Bagan - Nyaung U - Inle [11D10N]

AP11: Bago - Kyaikhtiyo - Thaton - Nwa La Bo - Mawlamyine - Bilu Kyun - Gaungse Kyun - Win Sein Taw Ya - Hpa-an - Zwekabin - Baying Nyi Naung Cave [5D6N]

AP14: Yangon - Bagan - Inle [4D3N]

AP15: Yangon - Mandalay - Mingun - Inle [4D3N]

AP16: Yangon City Tour [5D4N]

AP17: Mandalay - Bagan River Cruise [5:30AM - 6:00PM]

AP11 Itinerary Map

Myanmar Itinerary Map for Package AP11

Further Reading: