Kawgun Cave & Yathaypyan Cave

The 7th-century artwork of the Kawgun Cave consists of thousands of tiny clay buddhas and carvings plastered all over the walls and roof of this open cavern, which is a popular spot with the local macaque monkeys. Just over a mile away is the Yathaypyan Cave, which contains several pagodas as well as a few more clay wall carvings. Both caves are partially inaccessible during the rainy season (June to October).

Kawgun was constructed by King Manuaha after he was defeated in battle and had to take sanctuary in these caves. Impressive as it is today, you can only imagine what it was like a few years back, before a cement factory, in its quest for limestone, started dynamiting the nearby peaks – the vibrations caused great chunks of the art to crash to the floor and shatter.

After traversing Yathaypyan Cave, which takes about 10 minutes, you’ll emerge at a viewpoint with views over the surrounding countryside.

A return trip by motorcycle taxi is K6000; a thoun bein will cost K10,000.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby attractions

1. Kyauk Kalap

3.64 MILES

Standing proud in the middle of a small, artificial lake is Kyauk Kalap, a tall finger of sheer rock atop which is one of the more unusual pagodas in…

2. Clock Tower

5.59 MILES

Now digitised, but not always working, Hpa-an's clock tower is lit up at night like a gaudy lollipop.

3. Monastery

5.65 MILES

Monastery in the west of Hpa-an, close to the river.

5. Mosque

5.72 MILES

The main mosque in Hpa-an.

6. Shweyinhmyaw Paya

5.74 MILES

Close to the waterfront, this golden pagoda is a popular hang-out around sunset, as well as an easy place to watch the world go by during the day.

7. Market

5.76 MILES

Hpa-an's vibrant market is good for a wander and a chat with the locals.

8. Kaw Ka Thawng Cave

7.98 MILES

This area actually consists of three caves, only two of which are generally open to the public.