Myanmar’s Southeast is comprised of several divisions in Mon State, Kayin State and the Tanintharyi Region. Mawlamyine, capital of Mon state and a formerly bustling colonial seaport, is Myanmar’s third biggest city, and home to one of the largest reclining Buddha statues in the world (not to mention the most allegedly beautiful sunset in the country).
Overlooking the town is a leafy ridge topped with a line of Buddhist shrines and monasteries. The tallest structure on the hill is the golden Kyaikthanlan Paya, built in the 9th century AD and thought to have provided inspiration for the opening line of British poet Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem “Mandalay” – “By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy at the sea”.
Other highlights of the area include the renowned, gravity defying Kyaiktiyo, or Golden Rock where a pagoda balances on a gilded boulder, dangling over a cliff. Hpa-an in Kayin State is home to a network of mysterious caves transformed into temples and shrines for Buddhist worship. Further south, the peninsula splinters to form the Myeik Archipelago, an enchanting collection of 800 islands spanning the coastline in the Andaman Sea, and little known to visitors.