Mawlamyaing (or Moulmein) is the historical capital of the Mon State and with about 250.000 inhabitants one of the largest cities in Myanmar.
The name comes from the legend of Mot-Mua-Lum (“destroyed eye”) which is about a Mon king who had a third eye that was in the middle of his forehead and which had the power to see what was happening in the surrounding kingdoms. The ruler of a neighbouring kingdom gave him his daughter for marriage, but she maliciously destroyed the all-seeing third eye.
sights in Mawlamyaing:
Mon Cultural Museum: This two storey building is dedicated to the Mon history of the region. The museum's modest collection includes: stelae with Mon inscriptions; 100 year-old wooden sculptures depicting old age and sickness (used as dhamma-teaching devices in monasteries); ceramics; thanakha grinding stones; silver betel boxes; an English-language letter, dated 22 December 1945, from Bogyoke Aung San to Mo Chit Hlaing, a famous Mon leader; lacquerware; parabaik (folding manuscripts) ; royal funerary urns; Mon musical instruments; and wooden Budha altars.
Kyaik-Than-Lan Paya: The pagoda was built in 875 AD by King Raja Mutpi. A hair relic of Buddha, Tripitaka manuscripts and gold Buddha statues are kept in the pagoda. Successively kings increased the height of the pagoda by 17 meters to now 46 meters. The base of the pagoda has a circumference of 137 m. The pagoda is surrounded by 34 small pagodas, known as zediyan. The word Kyaik means in the Mon language as much as cedi or stupa. The pagoda was built by King Anawrahta, founder of the Bagan Dynasty, later repaired and enlarged by Sun Kings. It was probably here that Rudyard Kipling's poetic ‘Burma girl' was ‘a-settin' in the opening lines of Mandalay: ‘By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea'.
U Zina Paya: According to legend, she was in the 3rd Century BC built. Records show that the pagoda was renewed and extended in 1832 by U Lugalay and his wife Daw Mi to the present height of 34 meters. A reclining Buddha is there. Visitors should also look at the four life-like figures: an old man who relies on a cane, a man who suffers from a serious illness, a rotting corpse, and finally a monk in a yellow robe, free from all worldly concerns. These four figures represent the four characters which led the Buddha to leave the palace, and spend his life as a religious recluse.
Mahamuni Pagoda: The construction of this pagoda was overseen by Sayadaw Waziya-yama, a prominent Buddhist and Daw Shwe Bwin of Mawlamyine. It contains a replica of the Maha Muni statue in Mandalay. The nearby monastery which is named after its founder, Seidon Mibaya Kyaung, has excellent, over 100 years old wood carvings.
Mudon: 29 km south of Mawlamyine, the town is known for its cotton weaving. Verdant mountains to the east are a source of ‘jungle food' -deer, snake and other wild forest species are served in restaurants in Mudon.
The world's largest reclining Buddha was built in Win Sein Taw Ya forest, 29 km south of Mawlamyine. The statue is called Zinathuka Yan Aung Chantha and is 180 meters long and nearly 34 m high. Inside the statue are 182 rooms located on eight floors. Near the Buddha statue are 200 monks collecting alms.
Azin Dam: a water storage and flood control facility that's also used to irrigate local rubber plantations. A tidy recreation area at Kandawgyi -a lake formed by the dam- is a favourite picnic spot; bring your own snacks or rely on the vendors who gather here on weekends and holidays. At the northern end of the lake stands the gilded stupa of Kandawgyi Paya.
Hpa-An is the capital of the Kayin State with approximately 50.000 inhabitants, located on the banks of the tranquil Thanlwin River. Although it is indeed a small town, it is also a bustling commercial center. Hpa-An was only recently discovered as a tourist destination. The surroundings are famous for its large, bizarre cave labyrinths which are decorated with Buddha images.
sights in Hpa-An:
Museum: On the other side of the lake, just when one has crossed the bridge, there is a small museum with exhibits of the Karen culture.
Thamanya Monastery: Mount Thamanya located 37 km southeast from the road to Hpa-an Kawkareik. This place is famous for the most dignified monk who died in 2003, "Thamanya Sayardaw".
Pilgrims come across the country to pay homage to him.
Kawgun Cave: The cave is near the village Kawgun, which is located about 3 km from Hpa-An. It is a natural, 61 m wide and 91 m long limestone cave. The rock surface is covered with plenty of different types of clay Buddha statues and memorial plaques. There are not very many of these caves in the lower Myanmar. Judging by the style of the Buddha statues, these are from the 15th century, the Hanthawaddy period.