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A perfect nature’s gift amidst the Shan Hills reached just over an hour by flight. This second largest freshwater lake of Myanmar at an altitude of 2900 feet offers a completely different dimension to Myanmar travel experience. Roughly 20 km long and 10 km across, Inle Lake lies in an area of outstanding beauty with its natural surroundings. During stay at the lake, one has to travel from one place to another on long tail local boats. The tour emphasizes on lovely lake scenery, hazy distant mountains and the interesting local society. One of its many typical features is the cultivation of floating gardens. The lake dwellers, their unique leg-rowing and the way they harmoniously interact with the nature amaze all the visitors. Colorful hill tribes inhabit fertile valleys and forested mountaintops, and their own hand-woven silks are a specialty of the region. Plan your program, if time permits, to visit the morning local 5th days markets, the sights and sounds of Inle Lake is livelier there. The beauty of sunrise as well as the sunset observed from this idyllic lake with the Shan mountain range as backdrop enchants all visitors. Each year around end of September or early October, Inle Lake hosts Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival. Unlike other pagoda festivals in Myanmar, most of which lasts for three days only, this one takes 18 days and features the famous Boat Races that attract spectators from near and far.
Highlights at Inle Lake
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Silk Weaving Village, Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, Village Life, Local Market, Handicraft Workshops
Around Inle Lake
Day excursion highlights
Inndein Temple Complex
Lies on the western shore of Inle Lake – easily accessible by boat through a narrow yet scenic waterway, perhaps the best boat ride in the region. The site is best seen in the early morning light as the sun rises above the hills on the eastern shore. The local 5th day market at this village is also an interesting option. From here, trekking to U Daung Mountain Monastery can be arranged. For an easier alternative, if necessary, bullock carts can be hired. Inndein Pagoda Festival is celebrated every year.
Mine Thauk Forest Monastery
Hill top monastery and pagoda at the eastern shore of Inle Lake, roofing Maing Thauk Village. This side trip from the lake rewards travelers with a scenic walk through the village, the wood and, on top, fantastic views over the lake and surrounding hills. Nearby, a forest monastery can also be visited. The walk takes around 2 hours round trip and, although uphill, the route is not steep.
A seldom visited area south of the lake. Trip to Sagar has many hidden treasures to reveal to you; village life, local cottage industries including lotus weaving, pottery etc., and ruins of century old temples, and so on. Enjoy unexceptionally beautiful landscape, flowering trees and numerous settlements dotted on both sides of the canal. This visit required a special permission.
Brief overnight tour highlights
Natural limestone caves where, over the centuries, Buddhist pilgrims have placed many thousands Buddha images made of wood, marble, lacquer, brick, stone and bronze. The display is unique in such a range of style, not only in the images, but also in the ornamental thrones and reredos. This peaceful town features placid Botaloke Lake and picturesque old banyan trees. Depending on time, a visit to one of the paper parasols workshop and local market is worthwhile. Visiting the nearby ethnic villages of Shan, Danu, and Pa-O is highly advisable, if you plan to stay in Pindaya for a night or two.
Formerly a favorite hill station during British colonial days, Kalaw stands high on the western edge of Shan Plateau. The pine forests and the cooler weather permit this picturesque small town a refreshing taste after the heat of the lowlands. The neighboring hill tribe villages of Palaungs and Pa-Os and their plantations are tempting for nature lovers. Here, great trekking and hiking opportunities abounds. Energetic are rewarded, not only of the nature’s beauty, but to observe the tribes’ ways of life untouched by modern day changes.
Capital of Shan State and a pine clad hill station set about 1500 meters above sea level. Access to this town is by road, or, in a more comfortable way, by air. The nearest airport is in Heho, a town located about 40 km by road in the west. The weather is cool all year round and the winter months can be quite cold at night. In addition to the indigenous Pa-O and Intha, there is a significant population of Shans, Bamars, other ethnic minorities, as well as Chinese and Myanmar muslims. The road south will lead you to the unique Kakku Temple complex with 2000 stupas in Pa-O country. Inle Lake, the major attractions of this region, is about an hour by car. Annually, at the full moon day of Myanmar Lunar Month Tazaungmon, i.e. mostly in November, Fire Balloon Festival is celebrated exclusively in Taunggyi.
Kakku Temple Complex
Hidden deep in the Pa-O region among Shan Hills, this unique temple complex with more than 2000 stupas was – until a few years back – unknown to the outside world. Lied in the Pa-O heartland for centuries, Kakku is as mysterious as it is appealing, at this point becomes one of the major attractions of the area. A day trip from Inle Lake via Taunggyi is sufficient. However, those with adventure spirit may prefer trekking route; an overnight plan is required then.