Holy off the beaten path Batman! Ye (which is pronounced “yay”) sits south of Mawlamyine, halfway between it and Dawei. Ye, with a small population of just 40,000, only opened to foreigners in 2013 and is certainly what we’d call well off the well-worn travel circuit. If you’re looking for things to do in Ye Myanmar, we’ve gotcha covered!
This cute and walkable southern Burma town has a lot of charm and mostly sits around a lake (that has fish you can hand feed in it!). We found it just the right size for exploring.
Ye has numerous pagodas and temples, two general and food markets and a gold market, and out of town many things to explore.
We recommend you rent a motorbike in town (or a tuk tuk) so you can get around to see and do many things. About 2-5 days in Ye seems ideal.
Where to Stay in Ye, Myanmar
There isn’t much in the way of stellar accommodation here, with the notable exception of the Starlight Guest Hotel, which we definitely recommend you book in advance.
It is a lovely place with standalone rooms set within meandering garden paths about 4km out of the city.
Room prices are very reasonable at around 30 CAD per night, and there are many thoughtful touches throughout the property and in your room.
The host David is an American expat who is super knowledgeable about the area, kind and sets you at ease in your new surroundings immediately. (He also likes dogs, which makes him a-ok by me). His wife Winny is Burmese in a fabulous cook, try her Green Curry. Showers are hot, breakfast is lovely and the whole vibe is very laid back at Starlight, but there aren’t many rooms so be sure to book ahead.
(We heard that the Gold Market Guest House is also worth checking out.)
Local Villages Near Ye To Visit
There are a few villages near Ye that are full of interesting sights and culture. Here are our top recommendations.
Jaung Ywar (School Village Near Ye)
Sometimes spelled Kyaung Ywar, this village is a mix of Mon and Kayan people, and is located upstream on the Ye River, where the water runs clean and clear.
The Jaung Ywar / Kyayng Ywar village is a decent size and has many roads and small shops to explore. At the river there is a walking bridge that takes you to a small peninsula with many restaurants to grab lunch and the opportunity to swim or rent inner tubes to go tubing.
At the riverside restaurant area, it’s possible to hire a longtail boat for 10,000 kyat (max 5 guests) and go upstream through the jungle to a small Mon temple where two branches of the river meet. While this didn’t happen to us, we heard that sometimes you may need to get out and push the boat in some parts. The boats have no cover so be sure to bring sunscreen or a hat.
A guide is technically required for a visit to Jaung War village, by order of local officials….however we opted to go without one and ran into no trouble.
We were asked once by a man where we were going and we just made the motion for “around, exploring” and he let us go on our way. Dress modestly for swimming—definitely no bikinis.
A short drive south-west from the village, there is a pagoda on a hill with a wonderful view of the river that winds through the plantations and mountains beyond.
Duya and Andin Villages (Fishing Villages)
A lovely motorbike ride past picturesque rice fields and Mon villages with forested hills on either side brings you to the Duya and Andin Villages.
Past Andin is a fishing village at the north end of a long relatively clean beach. At the south end of the beach is a rocky point shaded by trees—don’t take motorbikes on the beach, it’s a lovely walk.
Buddhist Temples and Pagodas in Ye
There are a variety of beautiful buddhist temples and pagodas in Ye and just outside the city to visit. We were so happy we drove over to Banana Mountain, in particular, it was spectacular.
Banana Mountain (Ko Yin Lay) A Unique Buddhist Temple in Ye
We were honestly blown away by Banana Mountain (Ko Yin Lay). We went in not expecting much (AFP.. Another f* Pagoda?), but we were quite dazzled by it’s massive size and beauty.
Although Ko Yin Lay translates to Banana Mountain, this is not a mountain—it’s a uniquely-styled Mon temple complex that’s quite different from typical pagodas you’ll encounter in the south of Myanmar.
Banana Mountain has with many domes featuring a 9-story, 4-seated Buddha you can walk up inside and a GIANT reclining Buddha.
This is a sacred monument to the Mon state locals, and walking around its easy to see why. There were so few people here, it felt special to experience it almost alone.
You can walk into the elephant statue chamber under the giant reclining buddha built in 2019 and be mesmerized by the neverending aisles of repeating elephant statues. Then, moving on to the main building, you can wak Inside the four Buddha statues, and at your leisure, ascend 9 flights, each unique and worth exploring. It’s nice and cool in there. At the top (there are a lot of stairs.. brace yourself), there is a 360-degree view of the surrounding area that is stunning.
If you arrive around 10:30am – 11:00am you may be invited to sit down for a traditional Mon/Burmese lunch. All the food is vegetarian, and delicious and you won’t be asked to pay for the food but a donation to the temple is appreciated.
To visit Banana Mountain (Ko Yin Lay) no guide is required. When we went in 2020 there were was a baboon family (mom and dad in cages, little tyke able to come and go from the cages), it was amazing to seem them but sad to see them in cages. To find Ko Yin Lay, head along the main highway and about ten minutes past the Starlight Guest Resort you’ll see these two elephants, you can’t miss them. This is the entrance.
Shwemawdaw Paya (Buddhist Temple in Ye)
This is the main pagoda of Ye, set right in the middle of town where the busses let off. It has massive rose colored lions guarding the gates. We wandered this area at night and it was beautiful to watch locals light candles and pray.
Sasana 2500 Pagoda (Buddhist Pagoda)
This is another popular local pagoda.
Beaches in Ye, Myanmar
There are a few beaches near Ye that we think are worth a visit.
They’re not quite as epic as those in Myeik and Dawei, but they’re nonetheless a great way to break up a day of exploring or chill out and enjoy swimming or some fresh seafood.
Asin Village and BinLeWa beach
Asin is a large village to the west of Ye and BinLeWa Beach is located where the Ye River meets the ocean. You will go through Asin before you reach BinLeWa. At this very “local” beach there is a hill with a small pagoda at the top and great view. There are a few restaurants there that make delicious offerings: BBQ, seafood, and Tom Yum. Drinks and beer are also available. The water at the beach isn’t perfectly clear but it is safe to swim there. Sadly, there is a lot of rubbish in the area.
Pro BinLeWa Beach Tip: Most visitors walk to the left side of the rocky hill, but the beach to the right is more secluded and cleaner. If you walk about 500 meters north along the beach you will find a few beachside restaurants with cold beer and drinks.
KaBiaWa (Kabyar) Beach, Ye
Situated to the southeast of Ye, KaBiaWa beach is about an hour drive away from town. The KaBiaWa village is slotted to become a resort area in the future.
There is a nice beach at the south side of the village, the water isn’t clear but it is suitable for swimming.
The beach area at KaBiWa is cleaner than BinLeWa beach and there are restaurants with beach views, beer and drinks.
On the north side of the KaBiaWa village you’ll see traditional wooden fishing boats in the sheltered bay.
A footpath continues along the side of a hill to a rocky point with a pagoda and great views of the ocean and the mainland. A guide isn’t required, but is helpful for navigation and translating.
Where to Eat in Ye, Myanmar
Thai Food in Ye
This is a Thai restaurant in Ye with excellent noodle soup, fried chicken and som-tam. The Thai basil with chicken, stir fried noodles and vegetarian (tau-ta-lote) is worth trying. Open noon until 10pm, no alcohol, English language menu available.
Burmese Food in Ye
Jasmine Cool Restaurant
A lovely setting serving cool drinks and yummy food. Try the Tamin Jor (fried rice), Khao Soi Jor (stir-fried noodles, Lapet Tamin (green tea rice and Pad Kaprow with rice. No alcohol.
Burmese Food in Ye
A surprisingly modern joint, try the Nga Jor (pan fried whole fish in sweet and sour sauce), hot pot, stir-fried chicken, squid salad, tomato salad. Full bar, open until 12 midnight.
Ice Cream in Ye
At the lake, here you can get homemade ice cream (try the orange chocolate combo!) and fresh fruit drinks along with fried rice, stir fried noodles and tomato salads. Come for the home-made ice cream, stay for the free wifi.
Market in Ye / Market Food
Street Market Food
You can enjoy Ye’s street food in two areas.
The first market is at the lake and has various choices from different vendors: try the pancake with shredded coconut and peanuts (pow-maut). The steamed yellow corn is delicious, the white corn, not so much. Some tam BBQ meat and veggies are also delicious.
The second market area to get street food in Ye is beside the school. Try the on-noot-kow-soi (noodles with coconut chicken curry, samosas, ah-thauk (noodles, shredded cucumber and onions). Market runs 4pm – 10pm, but after around 7pm choices are limited.
Air conditioned Restaurant in Ye
Shwe Taug Gyar Hotel
Wet chow set (spicy dried pork), Chinese style fried rice, Thai style chicken curry, cakes and desserts. Full bar, but if you want cocktail or wine you have to order a full bottle. English language menu, air-conditioned dining room.