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Mawlamyine (also spelt Mawlamyaing and sometimes known by its colonial name, Moulmein), the charming tropical capital of Mon State and one-time administrative centre of British Burma and a major teak port from 1827 - 1852, has many old colonial buildings lining its quiet streets, and is famous for its markets and seafood. It was a visit here that inspired Rudyard Kipling to write his famous poem Mandalay as well as the famous writer, Gorge O’Well, used to live. The city is located at the mouth of the Thanlwin (Salween) River, about 300 km south-east of Yangon and can get there by train, bus or private car.

The City

Its focal point is the Kyaik Than Lan Pagoda, which towers over Mawlamyine and offers great views of the surrounding area. Built in 875 AD, it is said to contain a hair relic of the Buddha and it is encircled by 34 smaller stupas. There are a number of other places of worship that are of historical and cultural interest in Mawlamyine, including Queen Sein Done Monastery, St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, the red brick St Matthew’s church ,the first Baptist church,also known as Judson church; and the India temples.

Mon Cultural Museum

It is a two storey building that displayed Mon cultural and history. The modest collection of the museum, scales with Mon inscriptions, hundred year old sculptures of wood, ceramics, thanaka grinding stones, silver betel boxes, lacquer-ware and folding manuscripts an English language letter dated 22 December 1945 from Bogyoke Aung San to U Chit Hlaing, a prominent Mon Leader, are displayed downstairs and reading rooms are upstairs.

Pa-Auk-Taw-Ya Meditation Centre

The little Nivana for those who practice the core of Buddhism, the 500 acres quiet forest monastery is one of the largest meditation centre in Myanmar and famous for its Buddhist meditation technique where teaches insight-awareness meditation. It was established since 1925 and foreign monks from all around the world have come and strived to Buddha doctrine since 1990.

Bilu Island (Ogre Island)

Across the water, to the west of Mawlamyine, can be found the charming Bilu Island. As well as taking in the friendly and rustic atmosphere (there are few other tourists), you can find a wide variety of handicrafts on the streets of the island’s many villages – including walking sticks, smoking pipe, slate writing boards, bamboo hats and even hand-made rubber bands.

Largest Reclining Buddha

Other sights to be found in the area include the world’s largest reclining Buddha at Win Sein Taw Ya Monastery, 20km to the south of town.

The Death Railway & Allied War Memorial

Around 60 kilometres south of Mawlamyine is the town of Thanbyuzayat. Here you can find the Allied War Memorial Cemetery, where prisoners of war who lost their lives during the building of the infamous Burma Railway (otherwise known as the ‘Death Railway’) are laid to rest with a small museum. The atmospheric site is beautifully tended to by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission which contains 3,771 graves of Allied prisoners of war including British, American, Dutch and Australian soldiers who died as building the railway and can be found 500 metres west of the centre Thanbyuzayat, on the main road heading west out of town.

Kyaikkami Yele Pagoda

Kyaikkami, is located 9 km northeast of Thanbyuzayat, was a small coastal resort and missionary center known as Amherst during the British era. The main focus of Kyaikkami is Yele Paya (means Pagoda at the middle of water), a metal-roofed Buddhist shrine complex perched over the sea and reached via a long two-level causeway; the tower level is submerged during high tide. Other attractions here are the colonial buildings that are about 100 years old.

Setse Beach

Situated from 24 km south of Kyaikkami, is wide, brown-sanded beach tends towards tidal flats and lined with waving casuarinas trees. This is the only one resort for the people living around the region.

Kyaikmaraw Pagoda

It is located 24 km south east of Mawlamyaing. The main Buddha image sits in the position of the legs hanging down as if sitting on a chair. Therefore, the temple is famous for the Buddha which is sitting in the “western manner” and it is also well known for its hundreds of beautiful glazed tiles.


Thahton is said to be the original capital of the Mons but now that distinction has shifted to Mawlamyaing. However, Thahton still boasts some historical links. There are remnants of an old city wall with the shrine of a Bagan hero, Byatwi, who became a nat (Spirit) after being killed by the lord of the town when he fell in love with the governor’s beautiful daughter. Now he is regarded as the guardian of the town and people come here to pray.

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