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Must-see Sacred Buddhist Sites in Hpa An, Myanmar

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Are you planning to travel to Myanmar? Do you want to see Myanmar off the beaten track and hidden gems of Myanmar?  Are you a nature lover who enjoys also hidden historic and religious sites, secret caves, and sacred Buddhist temples?

If so, you should visit Hpa An caves and Kyauk Ka Lat pagoda in southern Myanmar!


Hpa An is a small, underdeveloped, and rural capital of Kayin (Karen) state, located about a 5-hour drive from Yangon, the capital of Myanmar.

This tiny town with a laid-back atmosphere is a perfect base for exploring unique Kayin countryside dotted by the Salween River, a few charming lakes, several scenic mountains, numerous pagodas, vast paddy fields, and …. the most intriguing – rare, historic, and sacred caves.

If you are wondering what to do in Hpa-An Myanmar, beyond all questions you need to visit the sacred Buddhist caves:

  1. visit Yathay Pyan Cave (aka the Hermit Cave)
  2. admire Kawgun Cave (aka the Cave of Ten Thousands of Buddhas)
  3. go to Kyauk Ka Latt Pagoda
  4. visit Sadan cave (aka the Elephant Cave)
  5. head to Kaw Ka Thaung Cave


Hpa An caves
Hpa An caves: Yathaypyan Cave in Myanmar © World Travel Connector

Yathea Pyan Cave, or the Hermit Cave (Ya Thea means hermit), is located near Kawgun village, 7.4 m (12 km) southwest of Hpa An Myanmar.

This cave is a historic and sacred site for many Buddhist pilgrims and devotees who come here to pray and worship it. The place is rich with Buddha statues and images and votive tablets dating back to the 17th century.

The Yathaypyan cave is named after the legend according to which a hermit who lived in the cave in the 11th century flew through the opening in the cave ceiling after getting a superpower from mediation.

Hpa An caves
Hpa An caves © World Travel Connector

From the inside of the main chamber, there is a wonderful view of the valley. But, if you walk through the cave to the other side another spectacular view will greet you.

must-see hidden and sacred sites around Hpa-An
© World Travel Connector

Visiting the cave is free, but please keep in mind that this is a Buddhist religious site and you should walk barefoot.


Hpa An caves
Kawgun Cave in Hpa An © World Travel Connector

On the next hill to the Yathae Pyan Cave is another cave called Kawgun Cave or the ‘Cave of the Ten Thousand Buddhas.

The cave is decorated with numerous limestone and sandstone Buddha statues, mural paintings, ink and stone inscriptions, and even old Mon inscriptions dating back to the 7th Century AD. It is a sacred site of the ethnic Mon people of Myanmar.

Personally, this was my favorite Hpa An cave. I liked the sophisticated wall Buddha images and inscriptions.

The Kawgun Cave in Hpa An was at the top of my list of must-see sacred sites in Myanmar.

Hpa An caves
Hpa An caves: Kawgun Cave in Myanmar © World Travel Connector

The Kawgun Cave is located about 12 km (7 miles) southwest of Hpa An. The entrance fee is 3.000 kyatt (about 2.3 USD).

Hpa An caves
Kawgun Cave in Hpa An © World Travel Connector


must-see hidden and sacred sites around Hpa-An
Kyauk Ka Lat pagoda © World Travel Connector

Kyauk Ka Lap Pagoda (or Kyauk Ka Latt Pagoda), literally meaning the ‘Water Garden pagoda’, is located 4 mi (7 km) south of Hpa An.

This unique golden pagoda tops an unusual rock on an island surrounded by a manmade lake named Kyauk Kalap (or Water Garden).

The whole landscape around the pagoda is truly magical, romantic, and painting-like.

must-see hidden and sacred sites around Hpa-An
Water Garden near Hpa An in Myanmar © World Travel Connector


Hpa An caves
Hpa An Caves: Sadan cave in Myanmar © World Travel Connector

The list of Hpa An caves would be incomplete without Sadan Cave, the largest cave in the Kayin state.

Sadan means the Royal Elephant. The cave is named after the story in which Buddha in one of his previous incarnations was the king elephant Sadan. Honoring it, the base of the steps that lead up to the cave is decorated with two stone elephants.

This 800 m long cave is located 17 mi (28 km) south of Hpa An.

A large reclining Buddha statue dominates the entrance chamber with fluorescent lights and many gold tablets on the walls.

The main passage goes through the dark cave full of stalactites, stalagmites, and bats hanging from the cave ceiling.

Hpa An caves
Sadan cave near Hpa An in Myanmar © World Travel Connector

A 10-minute walk through the cave takes you to the cave ends. There you are welcomed with an impressive view of the lake which circles the cave.

The lake boat tour goes around the cave, ending in beautiful rice fields just next to the cave entrance.

must-see hidden and sacred sites around Hpa-An
Rice fields in Hpa An © World Travel Connector


Hpa An caves
Caves in Myanmar: Kaw Ka Thaung Cave © World Travel Connector

Finally, the Kaw Ka Thaung Cave was the last one I visited in Hpa An area and, in my opinion, the least impressive.

The cavern is only 50 m long. It is located 10 km (about 6 miles) southeast of Hpa An.

The cave consists of one main chamber with a tiled floor and disco lights flashing around. In addition, there is also a small tunnel leading to a narrow meditation space for monks.


MAYBE YOU ALSO WOULD LIKE TO READ: 16 Buddhist Temples in Southeast Asia you Must See

How to get to Hpa-An caves and Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda

This cave adventure loop from Yathayapyan cave to Kawt Ka Thaung Cave takes about 47 mi (75 km).

The most practical and cheapest way to visit all of these Hpa An places is to take a shared tuk-tuk tour at one of the guesthouses in Hpa An.

I took a shared tuk-tuk at the Soe Brothers Guesthouse in Hpa An Myanmar.

The price for the tuk-tuk tour is 30.000 kyatt (about 23 USD). Since a tuk-tuk takes 6 people on average, the tour costs 5.000 kyatt (about 3.8 USD) per person.

Map of the caves in Hpa An Myanmar 

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Eric Gamble

Monday 16th of April 2018

These "hidden" caves around Myanmar are amazing. To explore Yangon and all of the Buddhist temples are definitely on my bucket list. I have never even heard of Hpa-An but I will definitely be adding this to my Myanmar adventure. I love the Yathea Pyan Cave & the Kawagun Cave the most from your pics. All of the caves are magnificent but these two seem to have really caught my eye. I would love to explore Kawagun and see the many murals on the walls and the statues throughout the cave. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Denny George

Saturday 14th of April 2018

Myanmar is such a fascinating country. I would love to visit it some day. While the cave temples were all magnificent, I personally enjoyed the quiet serenity of Kyauk Kalap Pagoda the most. Seems like such a peaceful place.


Saturday 14th of April 2018

Wow, the caves are so incredible! I have not heard of Hpa-An before, it definitely is a must visit if you are interested in historic places. I’m quite fascinated with the Kawagun Cave and Saddan Cave, they are stunning!


Friday 13th of April 2018

Hpa-An is truly a hidden treasure which not many people know. The Kawagun Cave looks interesting place as it has sculptures from ancient times. Also Water Garden lake looks ethereal.

Blair Villanueva

Friday 13th of April 2018

The Kawagun Cave is very mystical, and those carvings that are made thousands of years ago. This is a true treasure of Myanmar! I can't wait to pay a visit.