Site Name: Sa-Dan Cave
Area: Near Hpa-An, Karen State
Sa-Dan cave, sometimes referred to as the elephant cave is located within Karen state.
At the entrance there are Buddha images and religious statues. This leads on to a cave path. The path is well maintained and lit so is suitable for most. There are a lot of steps and a few unpaved areas though, so it’s not ideal for the elderly or disabled.
The path winds through giant caverns where the locals believe the Lord Buddha lived during his incarnation as elephant king and will eagerly point out rock formations that they think look like bits of elephants. I didn’t see it. What I did see was beautiful rock formations, bats, monkeys and giant spiders.
At the end you come to a lake. If you don’t want to walk back you can hire a canoe and get rowed back instead.
There is an entrance cost of 1,000 kyat for foreigners. They call it a donation, but as far as I could see it was compulsory.
Hpa-An is well set up for tourists so if you’re staying there you’ll have no trouble getting on a tour to this site. If you’re in Mawlamyine you have a few options:
2. Hire a car and driver. Make a day trip of it to be more cost effective – I suggest King’s Cave, Kawgoon Cave and Kyauk Ka Latt also.
3. Hire a scooter and drive yourself. Be aware that even though the hire place might not ask for it, you do need to have a licence to ride a scooter in Myanmar. Hpa-An is the only region in Karen State that foreigners are permitted to go, so if you choose to self drive, make sure that you don’t deviate from your path.
You will see other foreigners here wearing shoes in the cave. The locals will be too polite to say anything, but it is highly offensive to wear shoes in any religious site, including a cave. The path is not so bad as to justify creating offence, so please, take off your shoes!!
Don’t feed the monkeys, they bite.
This is a religious site and guests are expected to behave accordingly. This means covered shoulders, knees and cleavage and overall behaving in a respectful manner. Note that you should never show the soles of your feet to a Buddha statue, should never touch someone on the head and should absolutely never touch a monk’s robes.