Mawlamyine is the fourth largest city in Myanmar (350.000 inhabitants) situated about 300 kilometers from Yangon in Mon State. It is the capital of the state and the gateway to the more remote cities in the deep south. It is also a hub for goods to and from Thailand (Myawaddy / Mae Sot Border).
Mawlamyine or Moulmein was the first British Burmese capital from 1826 until 1852, before moved to Yangon. During colonial times many traders (Indian and Chinese) settled here. Main industries were teak wood, rubber plantation and rice export. Today rubber still remains and Mon State produces about 2/3 of Myanmar’s total rubber household. The local market is huge and stretches over two blocks. Be aware that this market is not set for souvenir shopping. It is perfect to watch the daily life of trading people. Colonization gave this city wealth and therefore quite some old colonial buildings can be seen. It is a shame that these haven’t been preserved and as by today many have been replaced by modern concrete buildings. The most interesting colonial buildings might be the churches from the missionaries.
The surroundings of Mawlamyine offer great history as well.
To the north is Thaton, an old Mon Kingdom, which Burmese and Thais as well as some modern Mons have tried to identify as Suwarnabhumi ("The Golden Land"). Until today there is no proof of this assumption. – About 1 hour car ride -
To the south is Thanbyuzayat, which is the end of the Death Railway line. A WWII railway line build from Thailand (River Kwai) to Thanbyuzayat. The Japanese forced prisoners of war to build this track, which the British declared as impossible during their colonization. Only within 10 months the Japanese finished that railway line and killed over 90.000 people (over 10.000 prisoners of war, mostly from Britain, Australian and the Netherlands.) – About 1 hour car ride –
Just half way to the South in Mudon lays the world biggest reclining Buddha image. From heat to feed it is 180 meters long and has hollow rooms that showcase dioramas of the teachings of Buddha.
Life Seeing Tip #1: Stroll along the Upper Main Road and explore the churches. Ask the caretaker to open the gate if the doors are locked and maybe you have a chance to climb the tower. Our favorite: St. Matthews Church, which is perfect so far.
Life Seeing Tip #2: Mon Cultural Museum is totally worth a visit (Admission 3000 Kyats). It displays Mon musical instruments, wooden sculptures (used as teaching devices in monasteries), ceramics and silver beetle nut boxes. Some of the description is in English.
Mawlamyine can be reached road and rail from Yangon and Dawei. There are flights from Yangon. There is also road connection to Thailand.
- By road from Yangon (About 6,5 hours)
- By road from Dawei (About 7 hours)
- By road from Myawaddy / Mae Sot (Thailand) (4-8 hours)
- By train from Yangon (About 10 hours)
- By train from Ye (About 6 hours)
- By air from Yangon (About 1 hour, not daily)
Restaurants are cleaner than street stalls. However most visitors say street food is fine to eat. All places are in walking distances for major hotels.
My City Café (Strand road) caters for the Western tongue(Burgers and Spaghetti ), Great coffee and Free WIFI, fair prices, great place to chill and cool down a bit as it has AC.
May South Indian Chetty Food, Great place for South Indian food, mostly goat, fish and chicken curries together with rice and dhal. Located on Strand Rd & Main Kha Lay Kyaung Street (Near Number 4 Jetty ). By the way a chetty is a member of a caste of Tamil moneylenders or merchants in southern India, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, Fiji, and South Africa
Beer Garden 2 (Strand Road), fine drafts Myanmar as well as tiger. Fresh selection for veggies and meat on display to be barbecued by the staff. Typical Burmese beer station food.
Night market on Strand road offers everything Burmese from grill skewers to delicious curries or fried noodles. Of course everything can be washed down with a cold can of Myanmar or Singha beer.