The undisputed highlight of Southeastern Myanmar is Kyaiktiyo, site of the fabled Golden Rock Pagoda, a shrine at its most ethereal at dawn or dusk. A half-day drive away is Mawlamyine (Moulmein), a coastal city with great Burmese character and a string of hilltop pagodas with spectacular views over the mouth of the Thanlwin River. A short detour inland leads over the Kayin State border to Hpa-an, springboard for forays into spellbinding karst country to the southeast. The unspoiled Myeik Archipelago is currently off- limits to all but keen divers on cruises and tours for which special permits issued in Yangon are required. Most of these trips are run out of Ranong or Phuket, Thailand, but anyone traveling from other parts of Myanmar can usually join the boats in Kawthaung.
Foreigners may travel freely in Mon State, and from Mawlamyine to Hpa-an (in Kayin State) on local buses and ferries. Travelers to Kyaiktiyo can choose between regular buses and a dedicated air-conditioned express train that leaves Yangon on Saturday and returns on Sunday. Tickets are cheap but must be bought in advance at Yangon’s Myanmar Railways booking office . In Tanintharyi foreigners are only allowed to visit the towns on National Highway 8, and can take a bus or train from Mawlamyine to Dawei, then a bus to Myeik (Mergui), and then a boat to Kawthaung. However, the easiest way is to take one of the daily flights from Yangon. The Myeik Archipelago can only be explored on prearranged cruises or expensive live-aboard diving tours .