A taste of unexplored Myanmar nature, easily matching Venice in terms of beauty but with no Palazzo; instead Inle offers you unique pagodas, villages and floating gardens built on stilts right into the lake; Picture perfect, every shot is worth a postcard here. Inle Lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar which is situated 1,328 meters above sea level and is 22km along and 11km wide. The legendary Intha people are famous for their odd-looking leg-rowing of small boats, with one leg.
Inle Lake is remarkably different from the three key tourist destinations of Myanmar: Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay. Tourists coming here get to see the diverse landscape of Myanmar through the areas that surrounds the lake. Enjoy boat and canoe rides on the lake. Marvel at the floating gardens, fishing villages and daily activities ... all on water. Visit the imposing Phaung Daw U Pagoda with its 5 'gold covered' Buddha statues. Enjoy interesting excursions to colorful traditional markets, villages and work-shops in the surrounding areas.
1. Phaungdawoo Pagoda
2. Ngaphechaung Monastery
3. Shwe Indein Pagoda
4. Ywama Village
5. Mine Thauk Market
7. Pindaya Cave
9. Nee Paya (Bamboo Strip Lacquer Buddha Image)
10. Around Kalaw
11. Palaung Village
The Phaungdawoo Pagoda is situated in Inle Lake, one of the most dazzling and magical places in Asia. It is held on a grand scale for 18 days usually falls in October (sometimes in September). It is one of the famous principal shrines in Myanmar and this pagoda houses five small Buddha images. There is a pagoda festival during which the five Buddha images are rowed around the Lake in a colourful barge once a year in end Sept-early Oct.
Actually, four Buddha Images out of five from Phaung-daw-oo Pagoda are carried on royal barge and conveyed around 14 villages on the Lake during the festival. The barge is towed by the boats of leg-rowers and hundreds of boats follow the procession. The large crowds of people gather on the lake-shores to celebrate the occasion. It is really a splendid sight.
Among the dance shows and fun-fairs, the most interesting event of the festival, especially for foreigners, is their boat race due to their unique leg rowing. It is the one and only place in the world that one can see such marvelous act. This year Phaugdawoo Pagoda festival will begin on 26th September and end on 13th October and 2nd and 6th of October is special recommend for taking photographs.
Entrance Fee - US$5
The best time to visit Inle Lake is between September and March of every year.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival
The festival of Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda is usually held during October. The festival takes about 18 days. It is the biggest occasion held in the Inle Lake, Shan State. The festival is held with great magnificence and pageantry. The holy Buddha's images are placed on a decorated royal barge and towed by leg-rowers around the lake. There are also Shan traditional boat races participated by leg-rowers. People from all the villages nearby come to pay homage to the Images.
Ngaphechaung Monastery is located in Inle Lake and it is on the way to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. This is an attractive wooden monastery built on stilts over the lake at the end of the 1850s. Aside from its collection of Buddhas the monastery may be of interest to visit because its monks have taught a few cats living with them to jump through hoops. 25 minutes boat ride to visit and ancient monastery built on huge pieces of teak wood with traditional architecture and see the popular jumping cats leap through the hoops.
The monastery is also known for a collection of old Myanmar's worth seeing Buddha images from different areas. Nga Phe Chaug is the biggest and oldest monastery on the Inle Lake and is worth visiting for its historical purposes and architecture as well as its cats.
Indein is one of the small villages of Inle Lake located on the western bank of the lake. A Buddha image has enshrined at a whitewashed stupa which is on the summit of a hill. Below the stupa there are cluster of hundreds of ancient stupas around the hill but most are ruins overgrown with bushes. The pagoda hill is quiet and calm. One could feel the pleasant cool breeze with the sweet rings of the bells hanging at the umbrella of the stupas. Mesmerizing view from pagoda hill releases the fatigue and refreshes everybody who ascends to the peak.
This mysterious place is at the end of the marvellous Indein creek which connected with Inle Lake just after the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. The creek is narrow with many twist and turns. Since the both sides are paddy fields you can see the farmers ploughing and harrowing by water buffaloes. While groups of farmers having lunch at the lunch time, the water buffaloes enjoy themselves dipping in the creek. At many places in the creek, the farmers dam up the water by bamboo barriers to irrigate the paddy fields. Indein water is not only useful for irrigation also for bathing and washing clothes. It is compulsory to see Novice monks, buffalo boys and village girls wash and swim in the creek.
It will take a 45 minute boat ride.
The pagoda and stupas built in the 8th century and rows of shops are famous.
Trekking enthusiasts can climb up Mt. Shwe U Daung, 3000 ft above sea level in 90 minutes.
Ywama Village is located in Inle Lake. It is the largest village on the Inle Lake. The streets of the village are like webs of canal. There are some beautiful teak houses built on large wooden poles driven into the Lake bed. The main activity and attraction is at the floating market.
Travelling to Ywama Village will take 15 minutes by boat. The magnificent floating market is renowned. You can visit the goldsmith workshops and observe the sculpture and umbrella industries.
Usually the Mine Thauk Market is open after every 5 days. It is a large and bustling market where one can find a real local atmosphere with a variety of produce from the lake. Other places of interest near the market in the lake are Paya Pauk Pagoda, Zakah Village and Nga Phe Chaung monastery. Accessible by ferry boats in Inle.
Pindaya Caves is one of the most wonderful places in Myanmar located near the town of Pindaya in Shan State. It is noted for its extensive limestone caves and Shwe U Min Paya and picturesque Boutaloke Lake.
The Pindaya caves, the home of countless Buddha images as well as interesting stalagmites, is one of the many highlights we would witness in and around Pindaya. While in Pindaya, walking around the Pindaya Lake in the morning and later afternoon would let us inspire the natural locals’ routines of works. The handicraft production of Shan Bamboo hat and umbrella and Shan Paper made out of Mulberry tree are part of the attraction of Pindaya. Being that Myanmar is an agrarian society, while driving through the countryside especially to and from Pindaya, visitors can absorb the essence of the countryside.
The ancient caves are about one mile southwest of the town and can be reached by taking a horse-cart or motoring there by jeep or just walking along on foot. Except for the young and energetic, the best way is to go leisurely be horse-cart to the foot of the hills reserving your energy for the 200 steps up the covered stairway leading to the cave entrance and for exploring the huge meandering maze made up of numerous caves. The caves are supposed to be 20,000 million years old and since ancient times they have been places of worship and veneration with 8,094 Buddha images made from various materials like teak wood, marble, alabaster, brick, cement and lacquer and all enshrined in the nooks and corners of the winding caverns. At the entrance to the main cave there is a pagoda 50 feet in height. This pagoda is called Shwe U-min Hpaya or the Golden Cave pagoda.
The tazaung or prayer hall was built by the famous hermit U Khanti who also built many of the religious edifices on Mandalay Hill. The entire length of the cave is 490 feet. The numerous stalactites and stalagmites in these limestone caves from fanciful shapes and have given rise to such names as the "Fairy Princess Loom", "Posts for tying horses and elephants" and so on. Some of the smaller caves used meditation charmers are accessible only if you crawl in on your knees and elbows. Visitors should plan to stay for one or two nights in Pindaya to explore the natural beauties all around; the tranquil lake, the limestone caves, the ancient pagodas and images and the lovely old trees.
The most convenient way is to fly from Yangon to Heho which is the nearest airport to the lake. There are daily flights to Heho which take about one hour. The flight from Mandalay to Heho takes only 20 minutes. Though travelling by car along the uphill and winding road over the Shan Plateau takes some few hours, it is interesting and well-worth taking. There is also a regular train service via Thazi Junction to Heho and Shwenyaung, the nearest station to the Lake.
Founded as a hill station by British civil servants fleeing the heat of the plains, Kalaw still feels like a high-altitude holiday resort: the air is cool, the atmosphere is calm, the streets are leafy and green, and the surrounding hills offer some of the best trekking in Myanmar. This peaceful town is a great place for anyone to relax in summer and enjoy the Tudor-style houses. And it is better known as an excellent base for walking in the cool and picturesque mountains, blanketed in gnarled pine forests and bamboo groves. On longer treks it is possible to discover little-visited minority hill tribe villages. If one fancies overnight trekking for two to three days on Shan mountains, you can start the journey from Kalaw toward Inle Lake. This would provide with a nice mixture of hard and light trek with good sun and shade. Beside, Kalaw also has a big central market where the locals selling their goods can be met.
It lies in Pinmagon Monastery of Pinmagon Village, Kalaw Township, south of Shan State.
It was estimated to have been established in First Inn-wa Period over 500 years ago. The donors were hard to ascertain and there were no records but its head was sharp upright. Its ears were not touching the shoulders and the nether garment was covered for the whole of its lower parts. So it was believed to be historic. It is eight feet four inches high. It is noted for its longevity, its prevention of fire and its wish granting powers. Occasionally radiation seemed to come from the pagoda at the front of image. The image is now lacquered and gilded all the way.
Places of interest are Thein Taung Pagoda, Aung Chan Tha Pagoda, Su Taung Pyae Pagoda and the King Church.
Other things to do are to shop around for a trek, walk toward temples & churches, meet tribes at the colorful every-5-days market, take the stairs to a temple & a good view of the village, climb up the hill for an even better panorama, a pleasant 1.5 hours trip, taste strawberry, feed birds, breathe fresh air filled with pine trees smell while on trek, visit coffee, tea or cigar leaves plantations or see elephants at work.
It takes two hours (short way) or four hours through the hills to the village of the Palaung tribe. At first a steep track leads down into a narrow valley where the Palaung cultivate cheroot, tea, damsons and mangoes on the hill.