Myanmar – Getting to know Mawlamyine & Hpa An

Six or so hours’ drive south-east of Yangon, on the Andaman coast, sits Mawlamyine – formerly Moulmein – Myanmar’s third largest city, and the capital of the Mon State. Situated on the Salween river delta where it meets the Andaman sea, flanked by lush countryside and pagoda-filled hills, this hidden gem of a city is famed for its distinctive cuisine full of sour and spicy flavours.

Myanmar Mawlamyine & Hpa An Travel Guide

Formerly a busy teak port, not to mention the first administrative capital of British Myanmar, the city features many faded colonial buildings among its gleaming Buddhist stupas and monasteries, but is often considered a little too far off the trail for most visitors. There are hints of post-colonial decay, but the city continues to thrive in its own way, with diverse communities including Mon (the majority), Myanmese, Kayin, Chinese, Tamil, Indian and others making up its 350,000-strong population.

Four or five hours inland from Mawlamyine, up the Thanlwin River, is Hpa An, a contrastingly quiet town flourishing with greenery in the tropical climate. With more of a relaxed, backpacker feel, Hpa An is even further off the main tourist radar, making it a relaxed base for exploring modern, day-to-day Burmese life.

What to do in Mawlamyine & Hpa An

The Mon State Cultural museum offers fascinating insight into the state’s history and people.

Visit the many Buddhist monuments surrounding Mawlamyine, including the enormous and brightly painted reclining Buddha at Win Sein monastery, and see a Christian influence from earlier times at the Judson Baptist Church, Myanmar’s first Baptist church, on the corner of Dawei Jetty Road and Upper Main Road.

Head north from Mawlamyine to discover the much-photographed Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, also known as Golden Rock: an incredible temple perched in a precarious-looking position atop a granite boulder, completely covered in gold leaf by visiting devotees. It’s definitely sturdier than it looks though, as it’s been there for couple of thousand years!

The infamous “death railway”, built by Japan (using POWs) to carry troops and supplies into Myanmar during WWII, passes close to the city. One of the POW cemeteries, paradoxically beautiful, is also near.

Travel up the river to Hpa An to explore the areas winding, decorated caves, head out onto picturesque Kan Thar Yar Lake, and wander through the gently bustling morning market.

Beyond Mawlamyine

As well as being a lovely destination in its own right, Mawlamyine is a convenient stopping point if you’re travelling further south to the beautiful Myeik region, with a small selection of exlusive island resorts and the eastuary-side, bustling town of Kawthaung at its southern tip.

Whilst you can connect between the two by road, those prefering a more sedate pace of travel will prefer a cruise up the Thanlwin River, passing villages and rural panoramas.

Speak to someone who's been there

Start planning your tailor-made trip by contacting one of our travel experts


Myanmar ⟩ Putao

Myanmar ⟩ Hsipaw

Myanmar ⟩ Hill Station Train

Myanmar ⟩ Kengtung

Myanmar ⟩ Loikaw

Myanmar ⟩ Mawlamyine & Hpa An

Myanmar ⟩ Kyaiktiyo

Myanmar ⟩ Ayeyarwady

Myanmar ⟩ Ngapali Beach

Myanmar ⟩ Sittwe

Photos of Mawlamyine & Hpa An

Discover Asia with our multi-day cycling adventures, suitable for riders of any skill level. Count on our quality bikes, knowledgeable guides, and excellent support for an incredible experience.

Tailor-made design

Create cherished memories that will last a lifetime through our exceptional and inspiring travel experiences.

True experiences

Embark on an enriching journey to explore the world, where every sight, sound, and encounter offers valuable insights and learning opportunities.

Connect people

Reconnect with nature, engage with diverse cultures, and rejuvenate your senses through immersive travel experiences.

Connect with a certified specialist to begin planning your trip.

Feel free to call one of our experts or schedule a video appointment for personalized ideas and advice.

    • James
    • Asia Specialist
    • Linh
    • Thailand and Asia Specialist
    • Loc
    • Vietnam Specialist

Get the latest from Absolute Asia Tours: Sign up to our newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Give us a call: +1 315 998 1998

Send an email:

Or fill in the form below and we’ll be in touch