Known popularly as the Golden Rock it is a pagoda on a boulder balanced miraculously on top of an outcrop over a chasm. The head resembles a human head and as the legend relates that Buddha's Holy Hairs are buried inside the rock.
The pagoda is built on a ridge, about 9 miles from Kyaikhto in the Mon State and overlooks the Sittaung Valley and the Moattama Gulf in the distance.
The drive to Kyaikhtiyo from Yangon is through small rural villages and vast paddy fields until it reaches the foothills where the Pagoda is situated. Pilgrims then are drive up the steep mountain side in open-bedded utility trucks which would be an adventure unto itself. At the way station at Rathetaung, there are workers who would persuade you to take a sedan chair, carried on their shoulders and go up the mountain trail like a Chinese Emperor!
Formally known as Moulmein, it was one of the strategic ports captured by the British after the 1st Anglo-Myanmar War of 1824. Situated at the confluence of 3 rivers it is also a very busy commercial town. During the Socialist government's time the town was the hub of a roaring blackmarket trade with neighbouring Thailand. Although the blackmarket trade is no more, the Central Bazaar, known as Mawlamyine Zaygyi, is still an interesting place to get a taste of rural Myanmar life. The Strand is said to be fashioned like the one besides the Thames River. The Kyaikthanlan Ridge overlooks the town in the east with numerous pagodas and monastery on the hills. The most famous of all is the Ratana Bon Myint Monastery, said to be the donation of one of the queens of King Mindon while in exile here. The shrine room inside the monastery shows an interesting mix of 3 dimensional Myanmar mythical figures and Christianity's angles.
A short drive along a narrow road with palm trees waving in the wind will get you to Kyaikmaraw. It is also a typical Mon town but the attraction here is the Buddha statue sitting as if on a chair!
The road from Mawlamyine to Kyaikmaraw is especially scenic flanked with tall palm trees by the roadside.
It is a seaside town and formerly known as Amherst, in honour of Lord Amherst, the British Governor General in India during the 1st Anglos-Myanmar Wars in 1924. Kyaikhami Yayle Pagoad or the Kyaikhami Pagoda in the middle of the water is essentially a pagoda built on an outcrop of rock jutting into the sea. It is one of the popular pagodas in Myanmar and the best time would be to visit it during the October Fullmoon Festival days. The Kyaikhami beach is still unspoilt and little known, even among the Myanmar people. Kyaikhami is accessible by car from Mawlamyine.
Literally translated as "Tin Shed" this small town is distinguished by its sad history. It was here that the notorious Death Railways from Kanchanaburi would have ended. This railways, which was said to have claimed one POW death for every sleeper was to connect Kanchanaburi in Thailand with Thanbyuzayat in Myanmar to carry war materials and reinforcements for the Japanese forces fight in Myanmar theatre of war. A small Allied War Cemetery, and museum, is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, where the remains of British, Australian and other Allied soldiers who died in this notorious project are buried. Thabyuzayat is also accessible by car from Mawlamyine.
Ogre Island but no ogres are there, just very ingenious native craftsmen manufacturing various items for the domestic market. Folklores tells of the island being inhabited by ogres in days of old but now the villagers are very friendly and will be happy to show the visitors around their native industrial workshops. Bilu Gyun is serviced by a ferry service from Mawlamyine jetty. The ferries do not carry cars but there are motorcycles for you to get around once on land.