“Lookin’ lazy to the sea” is how Kipling famously described the towering pagoda of Moulmein, or Mawlamyine as it’s known today. The stupa is fact just one in a line of prominent religious landmarks punctuating the ridge that runs behind this atmospheric port town, which served as the capital of British Burma between 1826 and 1852, and used to be a stopover for steamers travelling between Calcutta and Malaysia.
Plenty of charismatic Raj-era buildings – from theatres to churches and teak merchants’ houses – survive in the old quarter, hinting at the town’s former prominence. Enjoy a leisurely stroll around the market area and fishing harbour, which retain lots of old-world Burmese charm. This is also one of the last places in the country where you can see antique Chevrolet buses in action.
Mawlamyine’s hinterland is scattered with unspoilt villages and ornate monasteries which you can tour on supported bicycle trips from the town. Another excursion popular with TransIndus clients is a boat trip to nearby Bilu Kun (‘Ogre Island’), where you can visit a coir-weaving workshop and other cottage industries, before a refreshing pit stop in a local tea shop.