Photo: Another Burmese icon.

Kyauk Kalat Pagoda

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Hpa-an’s Kyauk Kalat Pagoda is a stunning stupa-topped limestone pinnacle, set on a tiny isle dotted with monastic buildings itself set in a lake fluttering with white egrets and surrounded by paddy. With Mount Zwegabin as the dramatic backdrop, it’s a gorgeous sight.

In fact while not (yet) as well-known among tourists as for instance Shwedagon, Mount Popa, U Bein Bridge or the Golden Rock, Kyauk Kalat would certainly merit a position on any list of Burma’s most iconic sites.

Nothing quite like it. Photo taken in or around Kyauk Kalat Pagoda, Hpa-an, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

Nothing quite like it. Photo: Mark Ord

The island is reached by a wooden footbridge and visitors are permitted to reach as high as a shrine halfway up the outcrop. While you are free to wander anywhere else, it is an active monastery and meditation site, so leave your footwear at the end of the bridge and please behave quietly and respectfully.

The lake is lined with overhanging rain trees and frequented by egrets, storks and herons as well as ubiquitous pigeons. The tiny shrine halfway up the rock provides delightful views over the lake, surrounding paddy and nearby Zwegabin. The summit, reached by a precarious wooden ladder, is sensibly off limits.

Visiting monks take holiday snaps too. Photo taken in or around Kyauk Kalat Pagoda, Hpa-an, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

Visiting monks take holiday snaps too. Photo: Mark Ord

It doesn’t take long to visit Kyauk Kalat, even if you do linger over the view, but being very popular with local visitors as well as foreigners there are plenty of tea shops and snack, drink and ice-cream vendors by the carpark area for a break before or after.

Stunning scenery. Photo taken in or around Kyauk Kalat Pagoda, Hpa-an, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

Stunning scenery. Photo: Mark Ord

There’s no entrance fee and the pagoda is located a short distance off the main Hpa-an to Mawlamyine highway. It’s well indicated by English-language signs. This same side road continues past the entrance to Kyauk Kalat to Lumbini, which is at the foot of nearby Zwegabin.Kyauk Kalat is easily reached by motorbike from Hpa-an and it’s an obligatory feature of any Hpa-an day tour.

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How to get there
Take the main Mawlamyine highway out of Hpa-an and go past the Than Lwin Bridge. As you continue along the highway you’ll see the rock pinnacle on your left outlined against Zwegabin. You’ll find a turn off marked by an English-language sign a couple of kilometres further on. Another left off this road takes you along a sealed road to the entrance to Kyauk Kalat. The total distance is around eight kilometres.

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Location map for Kyauk Kalat Pagoda

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