That Pathein is Myanmar’s fifth largest city would probably come as a surprise to most visitors, because it has a quiet, small-town feel. Located in the Irrawaddy Delta 120 kilometres west of Yangon, most people pass through on the way to the beaches at Ngwe Saung and Chaung Tha, but it is worth spending a bit of time in this laid-back riverside city.
Accessible from Pathein, at the southwestern tip of the Irrawaddy Delta, is Mawdin – said to be the spot where Buddhism arrived in Myanmar from across the Indian Ocean.
Pathein – the city
Famous for its workshops that produce colourful, hand-painted parasols, Pathein is also the most important Irrawaddy Delta port outside of Yangon.
The city is host to a number of picturesque tree-lined lanes, ramshackle colonial-era buildings and a charming riverfront with teahouses and restaurants that specialise in fresh seafood. The main hubs of activity are the central market and the famous Shwemokhtaw Pagoda, which are located next to each other near the riverfront.
There are a number of ATMs around town, including one at a CB Bank next to the central market (on the corner of Shwe Pagoda and Merchant streets).
Pathein is the access point for the holy Buddhist site of Mawdin (Maw Tin). At Mawdin Point, where the Bay of Bengal meets the Andaman Sea, you will find the Mawdin pagoda jutting out to sea and the Mawtinsoun (Mawdin Zun) pagoda, located on a nearby hilltop and offering views of the area. In early March, Mawdin hosts the famed and hugely popular Mawdin Zun Payar Ceremony.
There are daily boats from Pathein and the journey by river takes 6 to 8 hours (tickets are K3500); the road journey takes 5 to 6 hours. Monasteries provide the only accommodation in Mawdin.
For a wider selection of photos from Pathein and the Irrawaddy Delta, go to our Flickr photo album.