INLE AREA [Inle Lake – Kalaw – Pindaya – Taunggyi]
1. Inle Lake:
Inle Lake is the second largest natural lake in Myanmar after Indaw Gyi Lake in Kachin State. It is situated in the southern Shan State, 1000 meter above sea level and that stretches about 22 km long and 10 km across. Inle Lake is famous for its natural scenic beauty and the floating garden villages of the Inthas, the native lake inhabitants who have unique ways of life-based entirely on the water. Most popular attractions in Inle Lake are Jumping cat monastery and the Phaung Daw Oo pagoda located near Ywama village, Indein village on the other side which located on the western bank of the lake, shopping at floating market, visit the workshops of weaving, blacksmith, silver-smith, paper-making, boat-making, and a short visit to red mountain estate vineyards. You can hear the silk looms clanking and the tapping of the irons smiths, and you can also see the girls wrapping cigars on the open shutters of the wooden or bamboo houses built above the water while sailing amongst the villages. Around Indein village is beautiful landscape with bamboo forests, paddy fields, old monasteries and ancient pagodas those were lost in jungles for centuries. Visitors can see many colorfully dressed womenfolk selling local food items and various souvenirs of local crafts. The best time of the year to visit is in October during the ceremonial Hpaung Daw U Festival, which lasts for almost three weeks. Visitors can find the unique culture of the traditional leg-rowed boat processions in the event. It is amazing to be able to witness this cultural and religious pagoda festival.
Kalaw is a typical small town founded as a hill station by British civil servants in the heat of the plains, located in Southern Shan State. Situated 1400 meters above sea level and so the weather is cool all the year round with calmed atmosphere and chili cold in winter. It makes the town feels like a high-altitude holiday resort and many of the Tudor-style houses and English gardens of colonial-era architectures. The town is surrounded by lovely hills which are a relatively easy day or overnight treks to the villages of native inhabitants such as Danu, Danaw, Palaung, Pa-O and Taung Yo tribes. On the Kalaw Market Days, you will find many vendors from nearby villages and tribes come to sell their products. The town has a significant population of Nepali Gurkhas and Indians, whose ancestors came here to build the roads and railway during the British administration. Kalaw is known to be one of the few destinations in Myanmar that genuinely caters for backpackers rather than tour groups as well. The most attractive sights in Kalaw are Christ the King Church (historic church that dates back to the colonial era and famously had the same priest for 69 years, Hnee temple which hhomesto a 500-year-old, gold-lacquered bamboo Budha, the Kalaw Market with several stalls sell dried fruit and local liqueurs that in every five days swelled by traders who descend from the hill villages outside oftown), Shwe Oo Min temple with natural cave which is home to dozens of gold Buddha statues, and a Mosque of sizeable Muslim population in the Kalaw area.
Pindaya is a small and charming town about 45 km from Kalaw which takes about 2 hours by car. Landscape from Kalaw to Pindaya is very nice with different colors of plantations along the way and beautiful lake, and many big ficus trees around the town. Pindaya is well known for its extensive limestone caves which set deep in the hillsides with some 8000 Buddha images inside here and interesting stalagmites.
Taunggyi is the capital of Shan State, located about 4.712 feet above the sea level. It is situated on a high plateau surrounded by high mountains and has a moderate climate. Interesting points of the town are the Myoma daily Market which is constantly crowded with people from different sites around Taungygyi, the Cultural Museum where one can see the local traditional music instruments, dressings, paintings, sculptures, art and crafts of the Shan Sawbwas, known as Shan Chieftains. Another interesting activity in Taunggyi is air-balloon festival usually held in every November, which is one of the biggest festivals in Myanmar, attended by many people across the country.