Decorated with limestone mountains mysterious caves, Hpa-An (also spelled Pa-An) is one of the best reasons to go to Myanmar. Getting there from Yangon takes about 5.5 hours if you travel by road, traversing roughly 350 miles (570 km) from the big city to the tranquil riverside town.
You have the choice of either taking a private vehicle or traveling by bus. There are no direct routes by plane, train, or boat.
As an alternative to arranging your own transportation, you can also book one of the many organized tours of Myanmar. This 15-day trip includes a visit to explore the caves in Hpa An and a tour of the reclining buddha at Yangon's Chauk Htet Gyi.
By Private Vehicle
Duration: 5 to 6 hours
The most direct way to travel in between Yangon and Hpa-An is to go by private vehicle. You can also rent a minivan if you have a larger group that you're traveling with. This offers you the option of hiring a chauffeur or renting your own car, depending on which you prefer. The first option is more expensive but allows you to relax and enjoy the ride. The second is cheaper but you'll have to navigate bumpy and unimproved roads at times. The upshot is that you can go at your own pace.
To get there, head north to the Yangon-Mandalay Highway (also called Route 1) to Route 8, then take that southwest for about 3 to 3.5 hours. At the junction with Route 85, cross the Thanlyin River and head north on that road the final stretch to Hpa-An.
Duration: 7 hours
There are at least three services that operate buses on this route including Asia Express, Mandalar Minn Express, and Mi Ba Gone Express. All three operators run full-sized, VIP-style buses with air conditioning and amenities. The buses are known to be comfortable with reclining seats and ample legroom. They all serve water and snacks, and some have extra features like charging ports or personal TVs.
It takes about seven hours to traverse the 350 miles in between destinations but most of it, particularly the second half, is scenic as you travel in and out of the mountains for stretches at a time.