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Introducing Pathein (Bassein)

Myanmar’s fourth city and the most important delta port outside Yangon lies at the heart of an area that produces the finest rice in Myanmar, including pawsanmwe t’ămìn (fragrant rice). There's a general air of prosperity in the city, which has a busy, buzzy atmosphere, particularly along the river and in the markets near the Shwemokhtaw Paya, Pathein's principal religious site.

Most travellers only stop off briefly on their way to the beaches, but the workshops that produce colourful, hand-painted parasols, along with the shady, tree-lined village lanes to the northeast of the town centre, are worth a little more than a token glance. If you care to look for it, there are also architectural remnants of colonial days in Pathein, including the central jail dating from 1879.

Adding to the allure is the fact that Pathein can be reached by boat from Yangon. The discomfort of the overnight trip on aged IWT ferries, laden to the gills with cargo, is compensated for by the insight provided on the pattern and pace of everyday life in the delta region.