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The cave temples of Hpa An

February 12, 2015

In the limestone mountains around the town of Hpa An in southern Myanmar are several caves most of which contain elaborate cave temples.

The largest of these caves is  Sadan cave (also called Saddar cave). The entrance is a large open cavern filled with Buddha statues and walls decorated with golden frescos.

Sadan cave (1 of 1)-2 web

Sadan cave (1 of 1)-3 web

From here it is possible to walk through the cave system until you finally exit on the other side of the mountain. The walk takes about 15 minutes and leads through a couple large halls but also some narrow and low passages. You will need to bring a headlamp or flash light since it will be in complete darkness. But beware – thousands of bats live in this cave, the floor is wet and slippery and you are required to walk barefoot! You will exit the cave at a small lake and I have read that it might be possible to hire a fisherman to take you across the lake, but remember, your shoes will be at the entrance to the cave and it might be a very long walk back on a hot dirt road surface. Your best bet is just to retrace your steps through the cave.

Sadan cave (1 of 1)-7 web

Another large cave is Kawgoon (Kawgun) cave. The walls are covered with thousands of tiny clay Buddhas dating back to the 7th century when King Manuaha had to seek sanctuary here after being defeated in battle. On the ground floor are numerous newer Buddha statues in various positions.  As impressive as this cave still is, a lot of the wall decorations have unfortunately been destroyed due to mining of the limestone in the area. The vibration caused by blasting the stone has caused several pieces of this beautiful artwork to come crashing down.

Kawgoon cave (1 of 1)-4 web

Kawgoon cave (1 of 1)-6 web

Kawgoon cave Hpa An (1 of 1)-5 web

Kawgoon cave (1 of 1)-9 web

Fairly close by is the smaller Ya The Byan cave also with decorations from the 7th century and newer Buddha statues.

Ya The Byan cave Hpa An (1 of 1) web

Ya The Byan cave Hpa An (1 of 1)-5 web

Ya The Byan cave Hpa An (1 of 1)-4 web

Between Hpa An and Thaton you will find another small cave filled with Buddha statues – Bayin Nyi.


At the entrance to the cave is a small temple with a pool fed by a hot spring. It seems to be quite popular with the local monkey population.


Since all these caves are temples and therefore considered sacred, please be aware that you need to respect the local custom and will have to enter them barefoot. They are off the beaten path and there is no public transport to any of them.

You can find more images on my website by following this link.

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