A complete guide to visiting Saddan Cave. Everything you need to know and what to expect when visiting Hpa An’s largest cave.
About Saddan Cave
Saddan cave (also spelt Sadan, Saddar), is the largest of many caves in Myanmar’s Hpa An region. Its name is derived from the Buddhist legend of a sacred elephant named Saddan, who once lived inside the cave. It is also an active temple, popular with both locals and tourists. Located around 45min drive from the centre of Hpa An, a visit here is worth the effort.
Visiting Saddan Cave
We coincided our visit to Saddan Cave as part of a day trip, directly after hiking Mount Zwekabin. Our tuk tuk driver dropped us off at the front entrance where we began climbing up a flight of stairs. After removing our shoes, we paid our MMK1000 donation to enter. Once we reached the top of the stairs, we walked through the huge natural opening into the caves temple. Of course, there was a series of buddhas, shrines, stupas and a reclining buddha scattered around, along with buddhist paintings on the walls. At first glance, this cave is super impressive. It really is massive and after appreciating the natural beauty here, we pushed on.
After crossing a bridge, we continued walking roughly 500m, right through the cave. Along the way, we passed impressively huge stalactites and a colony of bats hanging from the roof. After you pass the main temple at the entrance, we recommend putting your shoes back on, otherwise you’ll be walking on bat guano (not recommended!). The path is dully lit so you don’t need a torch, however it’s damp and slippery in parts, so watch your step. It took us 15-20 minutes to walk right through the cave to another large opening at the other side.
Having seen some beautiful caves in the past and after taking in everything at Saddan Cave, we were left with mixed emotions. The cave really is enormous and has a lot of beauty. But taking away from some of the beauty, was a series of tacky neon lights and decorations, thoughtlessly thrown around the place. Buddha’s wearing illuminated crowns, with blue and red lights shining brightly around, really spoilt the scene for us. We struggled to see past this, however if you can, you’ll really enjoy a visit here.
Saddan Cave’s secret lake
At the exit of Saddan Cave, is a beautiful lake surrounded by limestone mountains, often referred to as the secret lake. From here, we had two options to get back to the carpark: Either go back the way we just walked, exiting through the entrance. Or, jump in a small boat for a short journey back toward the car park.
Of course we chose the boat option, which turned out to be quite a scenic ride, albeit a bit touristy. The surrounding limestone mountains formed a beautiful backdrop, as we floated down some narrow canals, through the neighbouring rice fields. The whole journey took 10-15 minutes and cost MMK3000 for our seats on the boat, which we shared with a few other people. We expect this would cost more now, as popularity to the area increases.
At the end of the boat ride, we spent some time wandering around the lush green rice paddies. There’s rice fields all around Hpa An, but these were the first green ones we’d seen. From there, it’s a short walk back to the carpark. We spent roughly 1 hour at Saddan Cave, before escaping the midday heat at our hotel.
Best time to visit Saddan Cave
The best time to visit Saddan Cave is during the dry season months of Nov-Apr. During the wet season May-Oct, the cave is subject to flooding and may not be accessible.
We would recommend visiting early morning on a weekday, when the cave is at its quietest. This will also lead to a more peaceful boat ride at the end. Avoid weekends and holiday periods, especially religious holidays as the cave can become really busy with locals.
Getting to Saddan Cave
You have two options to reach Saddan Cave:
Hire a motorbike
The most popular option for many travellers is to hire a motorbike. This offers the most flexibility and enables you to visit the surrounding attractions at your leisure. Expect to pay MMK8,000-12,000 for a full day, although bikes can be rented for half days or by the hour. It will take roughly 45 minutes to reach the Saddan Cave from the centre of Hpa An.
By tuk tuk or moto- taxi
You can also grab a tuk tuk or moto-taxi for the return journey. This isn’t the most cost effective way of visiting the caves costing up to MMK10,000 each way. If you’re not hiring a motorbike during your visit to Hpa An, then consider a day trip via tuk tuk. That way you can combine a visit to Saddan Cave with surrounding attractions.
Saddan Cave is one of Hpa An’s many natural beauties and the secret lake at the exit, really enhances the caves appeal. We enjoyed our visit and if you’re a lover of caves, we think you’ll enjoy a visit here too!
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