Kayin State

Karin State in the southern peninsula of Myanmar, with Mon State to the west, and Thailand to the east. It shares the same geology as Mon state.


Hpa An is the capital of the Kayin state in southern Myanmar and although it is possible for tourists to travel there, relatively few do. It is a reasonably quiet town, with no high rise buildings and not much traffic. It has a rural feel as ox carts and trucks laden with vegetables mix with an assortment of other vehicles of all ages and states of dilapidation. There was always a row of ancient looking Mazda taxis parked outside the mosque.

The town lies on the east bank of the Salween (Thanlwin ) River and there are stunning views across to an imposing limestone mountain which is topped by a chedi. The town is surrounded by limestone hills and the impressive ridge of Zwegabin Hill, 722m high.
There are several cave temples in the area which are well known to the locals. These include Kaw Gon Cave, a 7th century archaeological site, first visited by Europeans in 1827, by the oriental scholar John Crawfurd. There are lots of clay tablets high on the walls of the rock cliff, and Buddhas everywhere. There is an entrance fee for foreigners. Cave is only 40m long. The site is about 36 km north of Moulmein, about 1 km west of the Salween River, 9 km WSW of Hpa An.

In the same area is P'agat Cave, now known as Ya Theat Pyan Gu, an impressive cave and popular with devotees.

Another well known cave is Saddan Cave, and the neighbouring but lesser visited Hai Sin Gu. Kaw Ka Taung Cave is also well visited but is only 50m long. Further away from Hpa An are other cave temples, Bayin Nyi Cave which is in quite a large complex with hot springs at the base of the hill. This cave is mentioned in colonial literature as The Bingyi Caves.

The road leading to Moulmein runs parallel to the Zwegabin ridge. In front of the hill, Kyaukkanlatt Lake Pagoda stands on an impressive remnant karst tower surrounded by manmade lakes.

See photos of Kayin caves on my blog.

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