Things to do in Kawthaung: Gateway to Myanmar

In City Guides, Myanmar by SheenaLeave a Comment

Like Ranong across the border in Thailand, Myanmar’s southern border town has a charm of its own – find out the things to do in Kawthaung & see why it’s not a bad place to linger around.

What to Expect in Kawthaung

Located at the southern tip of Myanmar, Kawthaung is a bustling port town on the Kyan River, whose main businesses are:

  • Trade with Thailand
  • Fishing
  • Rubber
  • Palm oil
  • Coconut
  • Betel nut
  • Cashews

As travel restrictions and options continue to ease and grow, tourism presents a huge opportunity for the future of the local economy, especially in the ecotourism potential of the nearby Mergui archipelago.

Here at DIY Travel HQ I didn’t visit the islands but it’s definitely on the list of places to visit in Myanmar on my next trip.

Kawthaung city centre

Kawthaung city centre

Kawthaung is a culturally diverse town, with Indian, Muslim and Chinese influences amongst the majority Bamar and Thai population.

Most residents are bilingual in Burmese and Thai, and both the kyat and baht currencies are used.

Burmese in traditional longyi clothes

Burmese in colourful clothes at Pyi Taw Aye Paya lookout

From Thailand, you can cross the border from Ranong to Thailand.

Being a border town,  you will hear a lot of shouts of “taxi” from motorcyclists (sometimes accompanied by interesting hand clapping or loud kissing noises) and tour guide offers from those who speak English, particularly along the pier.

They are harmless and don’t continue to hassle or follow you after a simple no or shake of the head.

Tout free street in Kawthaung

Tout-free streets are not hard to find

Surprisingly no-one approached me to change money and I didn’t see any local exchange services either.

There is a bank with an ATM and currency exchange up on the main road, next to Kawthaung Hotel – one of the top 4 budget hotels in Kawthaung.

The streets of Kawthaung are lined with general stores, gold shops and wood houses, with more clothing outlets, pharmacies and booking agencies away from the waterfront.

Shopfronts in Kawthaung

Building shopfronts in Kawthaung

Slightly further up the road from the Immigration office, there are outdoor food stalls with seating overlooking Kawthaung Park and the waterfront in the evening, and several restaurants on the other side of the road.

Coming from the isolation of Ko Phayam, I was dazzled by Kawhoung’s modernity: almost uninterrupted 24 hr electricity and wi-fi, cars and flushing toilets 🙂

Charming Kawthaung town

Let’s explore Kawthaung!

Things to do in Kawthaung

  • Victoria Point

Victoria Point takes its name from that of the town during colonial times. named after King Bayinnaung, a Bamar monarch who invaded Thailand several times between 1548-1569.

A gold statue of the King sits on a hill overlooking the point, wielding a sword in the direction of Thailand – not the most welcoming sight to its near neighbor…

Great views towards Thailand from Victoria Point

Great views towards Thailand from Victoria Point

  • Pyi Taw Aye Paya

Built in 1949, the main stupa of Pyi Taw Aye Paya is 21m high – unlike many other temples, you can walk inside it.

There are 8 meditation niches that represent the 8 days of the Buddhist week and 14 Buddha images symbolizing the styles seen in other Asian countries.

The views from here are spectacular:

Pyi Taw Aye Paya in Kawthaung

Pyi Taw Aye Paya is a must-visit for the temples & views over Kawthaung

  • Sitting Buddha

The Sitting Buddha is over 3 stories tall.

Sitting Buddha in Kawthaung

Woah Buddha! This one’s a big one!

  • Kawthaung Park

Kawthaung Park is a lovely space on the waterfront with families and playgrounds, leading up to a tree-lined road to Victoria Point – there are food stalls set up along here in the evening.

Kawthaung Park food stalls

Evening food stalls along Kawthaung Park

Other Things to do in Kawthaung:

  • Andaman Club Resort and Casino (a short boat ride to the island)
  • Thirimyaing Lan fishing village and Third Mile Pagoda (5km north)
  • Parker Beach (16km north)
  • Maliwun waterfall and rock pools (38km north)
  • Mergui archipelago
  • Kawthaung Market
Kawthaung markets

Soak up the atmosphere in the Kawthaung markets

Speedboat from Kawthaung to Myeik

Speedboat tickets to Myeik can be purchased from a small shop opposite the Immigration office.

Departure time is 3:30am.

Travel is dependent on the weather, especially in the rainy season.

Tickets are US$45 – you may be able to pay in 35,000 kyat / $35.00 (in 2014) or less in the local currency, but that may only be for the Burmese.

Alternatively, you can book a $35 tourist bus from Kawthaung to Yangon for a painful 28 hours.

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Kawthaung on the Frontier of Myanmar

*** The Final Word – Spend a relaxing day or two ticking of the things to do in Kawthaung before continuing on to the rest of Myanmar ***

What’s your favorite border town?

Visited in May 2014

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