Inle Lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar, 22 kilometers long and 11 kilometer wide located in the Shan State.
The lake is one of the wonder not to miss when visiting Myanmar. Intha people to mean “sons of the lake” are estimated to 100 00 people. Their way of leaving is very adapted to the environment. The fisher men have made themselves very famous with their particular way to row, one leg on the stern and the other leg to row. One of the singular interests is the floating gardens, a form of aquaculture. The Intha have developed over the years sort of terraces made with humus attached with bamboo sticks planted with tomatoes, aubergines and flowers.
After visiting pagodas and temples in Mandalay and Bagan, Inle Lake offers a peaceful retreat to discover.
Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery
The monastery is also called “Jumping Cat Monastery”. The monastery is a kind of refuge for cats. Monks pay particular care of those cats and have trained cats to jump through rings which the monks high hold up high.
Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda
This pagoda is the most famous one on the lake with 5 statues of the Buddha covers by layers of gold. The layer is so thick that they look more like balls than images of Buddha. The highlight of Inle Lake is the Phaung Daw oo Festival during the full moon festival of Thadingyut in September-October. Dragon boat races across the lake carry the Buddha statues in solemn procession from one village to another one in order to drive away evil spirits.
Indein Temple complex
The site features around 1000 pagodas from the 17th century decorated with fine figured. Many are in very bad conditions and some have been badly restored with concrete. The excursion take the full day as there are interesting workshops to visit on the way, cheroot cigars, woven product, goldsmith, silver workshops
Rotating floating markets
The 5 Days market as its name suggest takes place every 5 days making a round in different villages. This is not to be missed providing the chance to see different ethnic communities to sell their products such as Danu, Pa O and Palang.
Taunggyi was established in 1890 and is the Administrative capital of Shan State. It is a busy trading centre located on top of a mountain with varieties of goods freighted from the Thai and Chinese borders.
Taunggyi is known for its famous Hot Air Balloon Festival in October/November during the Tazaungmon full-moon festival. Balloons are released every day during 4 days with different colorful and animal motifs. At the end of a festival, a price is attributed to the finest balloon. Balloons are lit by burners making the show not without dangers.
The pagoda area of Kakku is located 40 km South of Taunggy in a region controlled by the Pa O National Organization (PNO). Kekku is the religious center of Pa O people.
Kakku itself covers an area of one square kilometer and contains more than 2500 stupas to represent the Buddha’s footprint. Most of the stupas were built at the 16th century but many of them have been added over the centuries. Nobody knows exactly the origin of this forest of stupas. The area was discovered recently only. Unfortunately, many stupas were renovated not to their advantage but the thousand of stupas tightly pack together give an impressive sight not to be missed.
Kalaw stands high on the western edge of the Shan Plateau, one and half hour drive from Heho airport. This was a popular hill station in the British days and it remains a peaceful and quiet place, located at 1300 meters elevation with cool temperatures.
Kalaw offers plenty of trekking opportunities in the mountain surroundings among pine forests. The population is a mix of Shan, Indian, Muslims, Bamars and Nepalis .
The venerated Pindaya Caves are one and half hours driving distance from Heho through the colorful landscape of the Shan Plateau. It is possible to either take the lift or access by the hundreds of steps. Once on the top, it gives a fantastic panoramic view on the opposite hills, the town and the banyan trees. From the Shwe U Min Pagoda, starts a network of passages and caves with over 8 000 statues of the Buddha from different sizes and material. Most of the statues were brought by the pilgrims during the 18th century.