Traveling to the Mon State
One day in December 2018 I left the city of Yangon very early and after a
6-hour drive on the Yangon-Mawlamyine highway, I arrived at my destination,
Mawlamyine (formerly called Moulmein), the capital of the Mon State. This city
is located 300 km southwest of Yangon, at the mouth of the Thanlwin river (also
called Salween).
I was looking forward to visit this city, which just by looking at photographs,

already aroused my interest long time ago. The anticipation grew even more in
the last kilometers before arriving, crossing the Thanlwin Bridge, which
connects Mottama with Mawlamyine, built at the confluence of 3 rivers (the
Thanlwin River, the Attayan River and the Gyaing River). According to the last
census of the Department of Population of the Ministry of Labour, Immigration
and Population, Mawlamyine township has 289,388 residents (year 2014).
The first impression that I got when crossing the bridge and entering the city to
go to Strand Road, was very pleasant, observing the rivers, the old buildings, a
mosque on the corner of Strand Road and an area to walk by the Thanlwin
river. After leaving the luggage at my hotel located in front of the river and
resting, I decided to go out and explore on foot the surroundings.
Mawlamyine is a very quiet and safe city, with extremely friendly people, as in
all parts of Myanmar, always ready to help when you ask them something. You
can go to many places on foot, observing local life and interacting with
Mawlamyine’s people.
The city of Mawlamyine – Many experiences in just one place
Mawlamyine is a city with enormous possibilities for the curious traveler who
wants to visit pagodas (Kyaik Than Lan, Uzina, Mahamuni), monasteries

(Yadanar Bon Myint, also called Queen Sein Don Monastery), Hindu temples
(Sri Shamuganathar Swami, Hindu Bo Bo Gyi, Sri Kali Amman), mosques
(Ghous Pak Dargah, Surtee Sunni Jamae), old churches (St. Matthew’s
Church, St. Patrick’s Church, the first Baptist church in Mawlamyine), an
interesting museum (the Mon State Cultural Museum), and stroll quietly along
Strand Road, next to the Thanlwin River and enjoy what you live and
experience. The city has an old colonial-era prison, more than a hundred years
A must-see is the Kyaik Than Lan Pagoda, built in 875 AD, believed to be “the
old Moulmein Pagoda” quoted by Rudyard Kippling in his poem Mandalay. The
views from the pagoda are impressive, offering a panoramic view of the city,
with its golden stupas, vegetation, the river, and beyond the river, Bilu Island
(Bilu Kyun) or Ogre Island. A place to sit and enjoy for hours.
The Mon State Cultural Museum is a visit not to be missed if you are interested
in Mon culture, history and art, due to the great variety of artifacts on display
(sculptures, ceramics, palm leaf manuscripts, musical instruments and various
objects belonging to royalty). At the museum entrance it is possible to buy
books (in English and Myanmar) on culture and Buddhism in Myanmar
A walking tour in the promenade along the river, watching barges and boats go
by, observing the commercial activity in small shops that, among other things,
sell nets for fishermen, the central market Zeigyi, strolling between temples and
pagodas in the city center, will make us enjoy our time in Mawlamyine. For
those with preference for other kind of activities, they can visit the shopping
center Ocean Supercenter, in the main road. There I saw a beauty salon named
“Tony Tun Tun”, a brand that is present in other cities of Myanmar. You can also
watch a movie at Paradiso Cinema or Mingalar Bayint Cinema.

Places to visit near Mawlamyine
From Mawlamyine you can visit Mottama, a few minutes north of the city, and
enjoy stunning views in a quiet environment, without tourists around. Mottama,

located in Thaton district, was formerly called Martaban.
From Mawlamyine you can take a boat that crosses to Gaungse Kyun Island,
also called Shampoo Island, which is named after a custom from the Ava
period, where water from a spring on this island was used for the royal
ceremony of head washing, which was held annually. The Ava period refers to
the Kingdom of Ava, founded in 1364, which ruled Upper Burma from 1364 to
Another interesting visit is to cross the Bogyoke Aung San Bridge (built in 2017)
over the Thanlwin River, to reach Chaungzon town in Bilu Kyun Island. I spent
an afternoon touring this quiet island. Some roads surrounding Bilu Kyun Island
were surrounded on both sides by the Mon flag. The Mon flag is made up of a
yellow hamsa on a red background. Hamsa is a Sanskrit term which refers to
an aquatic bird of passage such as a duck or a flamingo, and it is an
ornamental and spiritual symbol in Southeast Asia.

A little further from Mawlamyine
If you have more days to stay in Mawlamyine, there are several interesting
places to visit, such as to Hpa-an (Kayin State). Saddan, Kawgun, Yathaypyan
and Kaw Ka Thaung caves in Hpa-an are impressive.
Other eye-catching visits are Kyaikkami and its impressive Yele Pagoda –
pagoda on the sea, Mudon and its giant Buddha Win Sein Taw Ya or the
Kyauktalon Taung pagoda, and also Thanbyuzayat, to visit the Museum of the
Railway of Death and the War Cemetery.
Visiting Mawlamyine is a great opportunity to learn about Myanmar architecture,
Buddhism, culture and history and most of all, be impressed by the amazing
views. In coming articles I will write in more detail about Mawlamyine and its
surroundings. Myanmar or the enchantment of the senses!

More information about Myanmar and Mawlamyine
Ministry of Hotels and Tourism of Myanmar

Ministry of Hotels & Tourism Myanmar

Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population of Myanmar

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