Mon State’s Moulmein Town, or Mawlamyine as the current Burmese government prefers, was made famous by the line from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “by the old Moulmein pagoda lookin’ lazy at the sea…,” as well as having had George Orwell as its police chief for a while, yet this wonderful town certainly isn’t a famous destination as far as today’s foreign visitors go.
Moulmein falls firmly into the off the beaten track category though we reckon things will change as it actually has everything to become a top tourist destination: historic architecture, fantastic pagodas, a picturesque setting with the Gulf of Martaban on one side and the limestone mountains of Hpa-An on the other, plenty of interesting attractions in the surrounding area and a very friendly and eclectic mix of inhabitants.
Although the markets are bustling the rest of the town has a very laid back feel; little traffic, few new buildings and there is something of a pre-tourist Luang Prabang feel to the place. On top of all that it also happens to be a photographers paradise!
Moulmein is located southeast of Rangoon, (Yangon), down the coast, where the Salween River meets the Indian Ocean and can be reached by plane, train or a 5-hour drive so makes for an easy and interesting side-trip. There’s some decent accommodation and a few excellent eateries and enough to keep you occupied in and around town for 3 or 4 days.
The town lays claim to several very lively and colourful markets and as with most little-visited destinations, foreigners still cause a bit of a stir. The locals are a mix of Mon, Karen, Burmese, Indian and Chinese and you’ll see mosques, Buddhist and Hindu temples and even a Christian cathedral.
Colonial-era buildings, hill-top temples, superb landscapes and a vibrant ethnic mix; as we said Moulmein’s got it all really so…… get there before everyone else does!