The Best Hostel in Hpa-An, Myanmar: The Lil Hpa-An Hostel Review
Updated on March 3rd, 2020
I loved Hpa-An, this was one the highlights of my Myanmar trip and made even better by staying at The Lil Hpa-An Hostel. Frequently booked out dates prove that it’s not just in my opinion that the Lil Hpa-An Hostel is the place to stay. Everything about this hostel was perfect from the attentive staff, to the free breakfast, to the location and the rooms. Make sure if you are planning a trip to Hpa-An you book this hostel as far in advance as you can.
I was really disappointed when my booking was initially cancelled due to an overbooking error. After looking around at my other options I knew I didn’t want to stay anywhere else. I sent the reception staff a quick email and they managed to make room for me by putting me in a private room on my first night for no extra charge. I then moved into the dorms for the remaining three.
Hpa-An was the first stop on my 2-week solo Myanmar trip. I had been living in Myeik in the south for 3 months and flew to Yangon and then took a bus to Hpa-An. The bus station in Yangon is 1-1.5 hours out of the downtown area and is really large and confusing. So make sure you leave plenty of time to get there and find your bus.
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Getting to Hpa-An
If you’re already in Myanmar getting on a bus to Hpa-An is a really easy and affordable option. Bus travel in Myanmar is the most preferred way of getting around for locals and foreigners.
Most travellers will take the bus from Yangon or Inle Lake. From Yangon, the bus takes 6-7 hours to reach Hpa-An and from Inle Lake, it is 14-16 hours. Other travellers will arrive here via the land border from Thailand.
Note: The closest airport to Hpa-An is in Yangon which means at the very least you need to be prepared for a 6-hour bus ride.
I travelled with Shwe Myanmar express and paid just $4.21 US for my bus ticket. Upon approaching Hpa-An the bus attendant asked me where I was staying and dropped me off right outside the hostel. Talk about service!
If your bus doesn’t drop you off outside the hostel the main bus drop off area is at the clock tower. Only a 5-minute walk away. No need to get a tuk-tuk or taxi.
About the hostel
The Lil Hpa-An hostel is located on the main road but set back on the block. Even though this is a main road, there is limited traffic and noise won’t be a problem. Hpa-An is a quiet sleepy town and I found it hard to believe the population of 491,000 when I Googled it.
The location of the hostel is perfect. It’s central to the bus station as well as a short stroll to the incredible night markets (I ate dinner here 3 of my 4 nights!). The river is also less than 5 minutes walk away which you can take a boat across to hike Hpa-Pu for sunset. Most of the other Hpa-An attractions like the hikes and caves will require a tuk-tuk or taxi as they aren’t in the main town centre.
As I got to experience both the private and the dorm rooms I can tell you they are both great! They all have a balcony/outdoor seating area and plenty of space inside.
As I’m travelling solo it was just me in the double private room. The bed was in tight against the walls but set up high which gave it a luxury feel. The private rooms each have their own bathrooms which is a nice touch, as you get used to sharing bathrooms in hostels regardless of your room type.
All of the dorms are mixed 4-share with their own bathroom and a bed in each corner. It’s really apparent how much the owner cares for the guests as the rooms could have easily fit bunks. It’s nice to see they are going for comfort over additional profits.
Each bed is fitted with a super comfy good quality mattress, I seriously slept so well here. They have their own bed lamps, charging port and bedside table. There are no curtains around the bed which I usually like in the bigger dorm rooms. Although that felt unnecessary in this style of room. Under the bed, you can store and lock your luggage or valuable items.
They have AC and a large rain shower with super hot water! After having luke-warm water for 3 months I turned that bad boy almost to scalding.
There are two common areas which makes it easy to meet other travellers. The first is a lovely covered outdoor area which is the perfect place to have a few beers in the evening. The other is downstairs by the breakfast room. Small tables are set around the room with bean bags, board games and a guitar.
I didn’t actually hang out at either of these during my stay so I can’t tell you if they get very busy or not. Although on my first night the outdoor area had a bunch of people drinking from our hostel and a crew from another nearby hostel came to join.
Included in your room rate is a free breakfast. The breakfast runs from 7:30 am to 10 am and is one of the best breakfast spreads I’ve had in Myanmar. There is a mixture of local, Indian and western cuisine.
I loved the fruit selection and the spiced falafels. Whether it was just because I ate at different times each day or the food changed on a daily basis I’m not sure.
Another great touch is that many people get up early for sunrise tours. The hostel prepares a light breakfast at 4:30 am and puts takeaway boxes by the food. You can pack these and take them on your hike. I’ve also been told that a proper coffee maker is on the way! You don’t find that at many hostels.
Activities and tours
The hostel runs 3 daily tours (although they are actually just a driver). The first is a general tour of the caves and temples. This is a full day trip which leaves at 9 am and returns after sunset.
You’ll tick off some of the largest sites like Sadan Cave and the Kyauk Ka Lat Pagoda as well as some of the lesser-known ones. The tour ends with the amazing bat cave at sunset. Seeing thousands of bats fly out of the cave didn’t sound very exciting to me, but it really was phenomenal. Something you have to witness for yourself.
The other two tours are sunrise trips to Mount Zwegabin and Mount Taung Wine. I wanted to do both of these hikes, but couldn’t force myself to wake up at 4:30 am two days in a row. I settled for just Mount Taung Wine and I’ll leave this picture here so you can see how amazing it was.
The tours are priced based on the tuk-tuk. The more people you can get to fill them, the cheaper they become. We had a full ride on both the trips I did and only paid, 5,000 for the full day trip and 4,000 for Mount Taung Wine.
If you prefer to drive yourself, the hostel will set you up with a scooter hire.
Places to eat nearby
As mentioned earlier, the riverside night markets are the perfect place to grab a cheap and delicious dinner. Head there after the sun has set and wander through the stalls. Many of the stall owners will give you free samples (My fav!) if you are wondering what things are.
The Wadi Restaurant is between the night markets and the hostel and is another budget-friendly place. The menu serves a mixture of western and local dishes and has a nice covered but outdoor dining area.
A bit further away, but seriously worth venturing to is the Veranda – Youth Community Cafe. It’s situated on the banks of the lake and will take about 20-30 minutes to walk from the hostel. They serve good coffee and have an extensive menu which is healthy and vegetarian-friendly.
The grounds are beautifully designed and decorated and it’s a nice place to escape the heat of the day. The concept behind the cafe is to support a community-based learning centre. They offer classes for local youth and give well-needed practical skills and experience to their workers.
Overall, I absolutely loved staying at Lil Hpa-An Hostel. I met some incredible people while here and would 1000% stay again.
Check prices on Booking.com at the Lil Hpa-An Hostel!
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