The jasmine falls.
Published: 24th June, 2016
Kawthaung’s most touted attraction is Maliwan Waterfall, a pretty spot worth a visit outside of the dry season. Its name is Thai — Maliwan means jasmine — and it lies around 40 kilometres north of town along a good road. It’s a few kilometres from the main highway. While it is a bit of a haul to get here, you could include Palautonetone as part of a trip.
Unexpectedly, the stream flows from the west. It had plenty of water when we visited in January, and while rainy season must get dramatic by March/April it’s probably not worth the trip. The stream performs a series of drops with a pool and water park created close to the entrance. It’s hugely popular at weekends with locals. They (and you) can hire inner tubes or kayaks, use a water slide or simply splash around in the clean pool. Note that you are restricted to the one pool — downriver tubing is not permitted. By plastic boat it would take about a minute to circumnavigate the entire pool.
A concrete path leads up the right side of the stream and further cascades, without water-slides. The highlight and end is a 10-metre fall some 500 metres from the entrance. A steep muddy trail does continue uphill if you’re feeling energetic. While loads of locals were picnicking when we visited, the place was kept spotless. We even saw a picnicking dad collecting cigarette butts before leaving. Quite how they’ve managed to keep Maliwan so clean while elsewhere litter is a major problem is quite remarkable.
The entrance has some small ornamental gardens plus a few chalets for rent by Victoria Cliff Resort. They go for $80 a night, although we’re not sure why you’d stay here unless you really couldn’t tear yourself away from the water slide. A cafe at the entrance serves up a selection of Asian food menu including specials from Thailand, Laos, India and Burma. Dishes average 3,000 kyat and the well-kept dining area has views over the dizzy kayakers.
Some 10 kilometres further north are the Maliwan hot springs. While they lie beyond the official 40 kilometre boundary for those visiting without visas, there were no checkpoints or police monitoring when we visited. The springs, with some bathing pools, are nothing special and would make for a total 100 kilometre round trip, so it’s possibly not worth the effort. More interesting would be a slight detour to Palautonetone on the way back. If you’re really smart, time your trip to have a sunset cocktail at Victoria Cliff before returning to Kawthaung.
If you have your own transport, then simply head up the highway north for 40 kilometres and Maliwan is clearly signposted in English. A very bad dirt track takes you the last couple of kilometres through rubber plantations to the car park and entrance.
Count on paying around 20,000 to 30,000 kyat for a moto-taxi or tuk tuk respectively and allow at least half a day, especially if you do the worthwhile side trip to Palautonetone. Garden Hotel claimed to offer motorbike hire, though we couldn’t see any when we visited.
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.