The largest settlement in the delta, PATHEIN is mostly used as a staging point between Yangon and the coast but makes a worthwhile stop for its busy markets, famous parasol workshops and tree-lined lanes of colonial-era buildings. As an additional incentive, it’s possible to get to the city by boat from Yangon, on one of the most interesting stretches of the Ayeyarwady River.
The biggest pagoda complex in the city is Shwemokhtaw Paya, which dates back to at least the twelfth century, although local stories claim that there has been a pagoda here much longer. One legend says that a Muslim princess asked her three Buddhist lovers to build her a pagoda each, and this one was the greatest. It’s certainly a grand example, with a 40m-high golden stupa topped by a t’ì (ornamental umbrella) made from tiers of solid gold, silver and bronze.
Otherwise, the main attractions are the city’s workshops: Pathein is famous for its cotton parasols, many made in small family-run establishments. These are scattered throughout the city, but the most convenient are located south of Shwemokhtaw Paya on Merchant Street.