Published: 24th June, 2016
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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