Famed for limestone terrain, incredible landscapes, and uncharted cave systems, it’s time to go underground and see beneath the surface of Burma.
My favorite thing about Myanmar is that it’s possible to go on far-flung adventures where you won’t see any other foreigners and, who knows, maybe you’ll visit a part of the country that has never been explored by an outsider before!
Before I reveal some of Myanmar’s best-kept secrets, keep in mind some of these cave systems are 200 million years old, so it’s important to leave no trace behind, and take nothing but photographs.
Pindaya Cave is tucked away in the highlands of the southern region of Shan State, and is an easy jump from the popular Inle Lake.
Catch a pickup into the hills, and follow in the footsteps of Buddhist pilgrims who, for hundreds of years, have journeyed from far and wide to visit this incredible cave system that’s filled with over 8,000 Buddha statues.
Keep your eyes peeled, as you’ll find statues hidden in every nook and cranny. Perched on precarious looking outcrops of rock, these golden Buddhas follow you with their eyes as you explore Pindaya Cave.
Sadan Cave is located near Hpa An and is one of the largest caves I’ve discovered in Myanmar, dominated by dozens of incredible Buddha statues, intrinsic wall carvings, and with bats hanging from the ceiling.
Definitely bring a headlamp to guide your way through the pitch-black giant cave chambers, so you can see marvellous stalagmites, stalactites, and sparkling crystal walls.
Not that I’d recommend it, but I adventured through the cave barefoot, climbing slippery rocks, and ushering my way through the narrow passageways. The pungent smell of bat faeces filled the air, and at times the bat squeals were deafening – but it was all worth it to break through this massive cave, and see the view from the other side.
As I emerged from the darkness of the cave, I was overwhelmed by the breathtaking view of a hidden lake, teaming with life. I sat and took it all in as the sun set over the mountains, and with a cloud of bats storming out of the cave behind me – I felt a bit like Batman.
Po Win Daung Cave is one of Myanmar’s most sacred caves, and is located just west of Monywa. There are around 950 caves carved into the side of a cliff, which were built in the 14th century as a dedication to Buddha.
Po Win Daung’s interior is decorated with spectacular murals covering the cave walls, and a vast collection of Buddhist statues.
These caves stretch across several terraces, boasting a lovely view of the city below. They are popular with Burmese tourists, but you’re unlikely to see many foreigners here.
Keep an eye out for the extremely boisterous monkeys – they will try to steal your stuff!
Kawgun cave was constructed in the early 7th century, and is located near the town of Hpa An. This ancient cave is a sacred site that attracts many Buddhist monks, who come here to worship.
The well-preserved cave has a mystical charm, with incredible murals and wall carvings featuring thousands of images of Buddha.
A local tipped me off about the marvellous view of the surrounding area, which can be reached if you climb on top of the Kawgun Cave!
There are thousands of caves in Myanmar, and the local people have used these for generations as sites of dedication to the Buddha. No doubt more and more cave systems will be discovered over the years!
Have you come across a cave we haven’t mentioned above? Share your experiences below!
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