Pathein is the fourth largest city in Myanmar and the major city of the Ayeyarwady Delta region, the rice bowl of Myanmar. Pathein is thought to date from at least the 12th Century. The first Englishman to set foot in Myanmar, merchant trader Ralph Fitch, landed here in 1583 when it was the Mon town of Kaw Thamain. The town grew prosperous during the British Colonial period with ships calling from India and South East Asia. The city’s current name is thought to be a corruption of ‘Pathi’, the Burmese word for Muslim – many Arab and Indian Muslim traders passed through here. Today Pathein is best known for the production of fine sun parasols, known as ‘Pathein Hti’ and the Middle Western inspired sweet, Halawa.

Shwemokhtaw Pagoda.

Dating to 1115 and the reign of King Alaung Sithu of the Bagan period, ‘Half-foot gold bar’ Pagoda is situated behind Pathein City Hall and the riverfront at the centre of the city. The amazing ‘hti’ or ceremonial umbrella atop the stupa has three layers; one Bronze, one Silver and the top layer, made of 14 pounds of solid gold. It is further embedded with diamonds, rubies and other precious stones.

The south shrine here contains a legendary Buddha image. In ancient times a sculptor made four Buddha images from pieces of the original Bodhi tree. He cast the images adrift on rafts from Sri Lanka; all four coming to rest on the shores of Myanmar. This image came ashore at the delta village of Phondawpyi and was named ‘Thiho-shin Phondaw-pyi’.

Mawdin Pagoda.

At the mouth of the Pathein River where it empties into the Andaman Sea is Mawdin Point, a sandy delta beach and Mawdin Pagoda. During most of the year this pagoda is difficult to reach but the area comes alive during the lunar month of Tabodwe when a huge ‘pwe’ (pagoda festival) takes place. At this time of year boats run regularly from Pathein and it is possible to make a daytrip here to observe the market that springs up to serve the pilgrims.
Myanmar Cycling Tours can arrange transport to Pathein by private air-conditioned car from Yangon. The journey time is about four hours. Accommodation in Pathein is of a poor standard so we recommend that you stay at the nearby beach resorts of Ngwe Saung or Chaungtha. The main sites of Pathein can visited in a full day trip from either beach resort or, at cheaper cost, en-route between Yangon and either resort.
Myanmar Cycling Tours can also arrange boat charters in the Ayeyarwady Delta region. Our boats are based in Yangon and can be chartered for a one-way or return journey to Pathein. En-route you can stop at other places of interest such as Twante and Meinmahla Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary and possibly Mawdin Pagoda . Please ask us for details.

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