A complete guide to hiking Mount Hpan Pu: Hpa An – Myanmar. Everything you need to know and what to expect from this awesome ‘must do’ hike!
About Mount Hpan Pu
Mount Hpan Pu is a small craggy mountain across the Thanlwin River facing the township of Hpa An. The village and area surrounding Mount Hpan Pu is predominantly farmland, producing different varieties of fruit and vegetables. At the peak of the mountain is Pha Bhu Taung Pagoda, from where there are stunning views over the whole area.
There’s a couple of ways to reach Mount Hpan Pu. You can either take a small boat across the river and then walk to the mountain, or, hire a motorbike and drive yourself. Alternatively, you take a tuk tuk there and arrange a time to get picked you up.
If you hire a motorbike and drive yourself, you need to take the road 85, drive across the bridge, then take the road to the right so that you are driving parallel to the river. Once you reach Mount Hpan Pu, park your bike at the sandy parking space and from there, start making your way up the cement stairs. The drive is about 20km and a bike will cost anywhere between MMK7,000-12,000, depending on where you hire it from and how long you hire it for.
This was the option we chose. The small boats (think wooden canoes), are located next to the Shweyinhmyaw Paya. The pagoda will be on your left as you look at the river, with the boats to your right. We waited until a boatman appeared before directing us to the right boat. It didn’t take too long for us to depart. But be mindful that you may need to wait until there’s enough passengers to warrant the journey. The river crossing was short and cost MMK500 p/p each way.
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Once off the boat, continue walking straight ahead until you reach a dirt cross road and small village. Take the right turn and continue walking straight. You’ll see some signs pointing you in the right direction. After around 10 minutes, you’ll reach Mt Hpan Pu.
Hiking up Mount Hpan Pu
Hiking up Mount Hpan Pu was one of the first things we did when we reached Hpa An. It was too late for us to do it on the day we arrived, so we opted for an early morning hike the following day. There’s two ways of accessing Mount Hpan Pu. Just to the left as you reach the mountain, you’ll see some stairs. These will take you through a working monastery, where you’ll need to remove your shoes. It’s a bit confusing as to which way to go once inside. To avoid this, just continue walking around the mountain, keeping it to your left. You’ll pass a small cave on the side of the mountain, with a series of Buddha statues inside. Just after this, you’ll reach a staircase. This is where we recommend you start your hike.
Hiking to the top of Mount Hpan Pu is short, but steep. You could argue that it’s not really a hike at all, but as it’s essentially scaling the side of a small mountain, we think it qualifies! When we say short, if you have a good level of fitness and want to shoot straight to the top, you should be there in about 25 minutes. We however, stopped for photos along the way, so it took us a touch longer. There’s a combinations of stairs, rugged tracks, lots of vegetation and some very sketchy bamboo ladders to negotiate. Of course, we passed a mandatory Burmese mountain stupa along the way! Not far from here was a bamboo viewing platform. But eager for the best views, we pushed on to the top.
From the top of Mount Hpan Pu – Pha Bhu Taung Pagoda
At the very top of Mount Hpan Pu, is the Pha Bhu Taung Pagoda. From this point, there’s 360° views of the surrounding area. Sadly for us, most directions we looked was blanketed by a thick haze. So our views weren’t great. By this stage is was only about 9am, but as there’s no shade at the top, we were roasting!
After taking in the epic vistas, we made our way back down to the bamboo viewing platform. From here, we were rewarded with more amazing views. As you can see, it was still super hazy. So we decided to return the following afternoon for sunset, as the sky was crystal clear.
*NOTE – Since our visit, we have read that the bamboo structure has collapsed, along with the final ladder to access the Pha Bhu Taung Pagoda at the summit!
Just near the bamboo viewing platform, was a small hut along with some rocks and trees. We used this to take refuge from the burning sun and cool down. It was also a great place to spot some of the local wildlife. These pretty little male and female Purple Sunbirds were active in the earlier part of the morning, flittering around us playfully.
The best time for hiking Mount Hpan Pu
The best months for hiking Mount Hpan Pu are Nov-Jan. This is the dry season which offers good conditions for hiking. Mar-May are the hottest months, whilst Jun-Oct are the wettest months. The area is often hazy, so fingers crossed you get a clear day!
If the sky is clear, hiking Mount Hpan Pu for sunset is a great option. Watching the sky light up as the sun drops never gets old for us and it’s also a touch less humid later in the afternoon. If you’re planning a morning hike, aim to be done by 9am-10am. Believe us when we say the sun and humidity is vicious! And definitely avoid the middle of the day.
Regardless of what time you decided to visit, it will be a hot and sweaty one! So we suggest taking at least 2 litres of water with you as the humidity is relentless. It’s also worth noting that the last boat heading back across the river leaves at around 7pm. If you get there too late, you will find yourself stranded. We made it back just in time, but the hustle was real. This is where having your own set of wheels is ideal, however, you’ll then be driving in the dark. The choice is yours!
Hiking Mount Hpan Pu requires a small amount of effort with huge rewards. We love a good hike and this is one we highly recommend, especially if hiking Mount Zwekabin seems like a little too much effort!
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