Shampoo island is an interesting island where monks and nuns live and is well worth a visit. There are also plenty of attractions outside of the city including Thanbyuzayat (location of the Allied War Cemetery and the end of the Death Railway), isolated Setse Beach and as a launching pad to Hpa-an and Kayin (Karen State) with easy overland access to Mae Sot in Thailand via Kawkareik in about 4-6 hours or via Nok Air mini in 25-30 mins.
Went to Commonwealth War Cemetery south of Mawlyamine by local bus 21/2 hours to celebrate my dad being here 1942-43 British architecture, great pagodas in Mawlyamine along t ridge overlooking River Salween Less touristy than others spots so,I liked that.
Mawlamyine is a charming town with a lot of history. Mostly individual tourists go as far as Mawlamyine, which makes the place even more special and less commercial.
The best advise on things to do in town and outside of town you can get from Mr. Anthony from Breeze Guest house. We took part in a boat trip to Ogre Island, organized by Mr. Anthony and it was an amazing day. The next day there was a boat to Hpa-an, also organized by Mr. Anthony, so we traveled to our next destination on water.
Mawlamyaing City is very, very tense. The religious & ethnic friction is palpable. It feels like a place ready to boil over in violence.
It's dangerous and both sides are spouting hatred of each other. Stay away!
Mawlamyine is a beautiful old colonial town. It is small and few tourists come here, which has kept prices low.
Mawlamyine could be used as a gateway to explore Mon state, which we wish we did more of. The peninsula to the south seems to be gradually opening up - the Lonely Planet is WAY out of date. Make sure you check out Ogre Island (we were glad that we took a guide with us - you can book guides at the TGS counter near the ferry dock under the Ok Hotel)