Inle Lake is 22km long and 11km wide, 875 m above the sea level and lies between Nyaung Shwe valleys is one of the natural inland lake of South East Asia and most popular tourist & local pilgrimage destinations in Myanmar. Take a nice tour in Inle Lake with unique leg rower, never-to-be-forgotten place in Shan State – Myanmar.
Hidden in the blue mountains of the east is this fascinating Inle Lake that stretches nine miles in length and four miles in breadth. Locked inside the lofty mountain ranges of 2,918 or more feet above sea level, this watery expanse however is comparatively breezy.
You’ll enjoy the romantic and breath-taking scenery of the Venice of the East, where everyone travels by boat. You’ll be thrilled by a powered boat ride weaving through the floating islands and villages. High hills rim the lake on both sides; the lake shore and lake islands bear 17 villages on stilts, mostly inhabited by the Intha people. Culturally and linguistically separate from their Shan neighbors, the Inthas are thought to have migrated to this area from Dawei (Tavoy) on the Tanintharyi peninsula in Southern Myanmar.
The hard-working Intha are famous for propelling their flat-bottomed boats by standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. This strange leg-rowing technique offers relief to the arms- which are also used for rowing- during the long paddles from one end of the lake to another.
It also enables the rower to better see the floating islands and water hyacinth. It’s sometimes necessary to stand up to plot a path around the obstacles- and to spot fish. Although outboard motors are used for cross-lake ferries and for carrying tourists to the islands and lakeshore villages, most people still use oars and paddles, thus avoiding petrol shortages, saving money and precluding the hassle of hyacinth-tangled propellers.
The entire lake area is contained in the township of Nyaung Shwe ad supports a population of 130,000 people that consists of Intha, Shan, Thaungthu (Pa O), Taung yo, Danu, Kayah, Danaw and Bamar people. The township seat of the same name sits north of the lake and is approached by road from Shwenyaung or from the lake to the south via a long narrow channel. Around 70,000 people live on the shores and islands of the lake.
Interesting places in Inle: Floating market, Phaung Daw U pagoda, Thale Kyaung, Nga Phe Chaung Monastery, Khaung Daing, Indein Pagoda, Taung To and Sakar villages.
One of the small villages of Inlay 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 around the hill are cluster of hundreds of ancient stupas 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 stupa. 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 marvelous Indein creek, which connected with Inlay 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. At the lunch time while groups of farmers having lunch 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 cloths. It is compulsory to see Novice monks, buffalo boys and village girls wash and swim in the creek.
One of the Asia’s largest and most spectacular ancient monuments is a wonderful Pagoda named Kakku. It contains over 2,000 stupas with origins dating back many centuries. Its existence not only as an outstanding example of tradition art and architecture but also as a testament to the religious devotion of one of Myanmar’s many ethnic minorities, the Pa-Oh. For many centuries, the Pa-Oh has lived in peace, cultivating their land and devoting much of their energy and limited wealth to creating monasteries and pagodas. Kakku is in the territory of Pa-Oh people. There are over 2000 stupas packed closely together in ranks and covering an area perhaps a square kilometer.
The main stupa is around 40 meters high, the mass of the spire surrounding it uniformly. But each one is an individual masterpiece. The particular remarkable about the whole site is its good state of preservation. Originally each one must have been topped by a gilded metal hti, the multi tiered umbrella-like feature, which is typical of Myanmar Pagodas. Many of these are tilted on fallen. External rendering of mortar and stucco has crumbled away on others, exposing the brick core while trees have established themselves in a few, threatening to split them apart. But so much of the originals still exist that this site must be free of the destructive force of earthquakes, which have periodically ravaged many of the Myanmar’s other monuments.
External decoration on many of the stupas is simple, almost sparse, the builders, having concentrated on pure grace and form for effect, but other features elaborate decoration. Traditional motifs weave intricate patterns of arabesques and stems, to create a delicate tracery of the highest artistic merit. Even more fascinating are the many figures, carved in stucco and apparently originally brightly painted, which adorn corner or pay silent homage beside the niches in the base, many of which still contain antique Buddha images. Angels, musicians, dancers- all created with consummate skill.
The legend says that the first stupas were created by King Alaungsithu, the 12th century King of Bagan. The decorative sculptures and figures are 17th or 18th century but some of the structures are clearly much older.
The remoteness of the site and reluctance of the local people allow visitors have helped to preserve its sculptures and artistic treasures to a degree, unknown in other ancient monuments in Myanmar.
Kakku is a priceless piece of mankind heritage, a truly splendid example of the creative talent of remarkable people.
Day return tour from Taunggyi during Hot Air Balloon Festival
Taunggyi to Kakku (28 miles) 1&1/2 hours by car
Day return tour from Inle Lake
Inle Lake to Kakku (48 miles) 2 & 1/2 hours by car
Note: Entrance fees = 3 US$ per person
Kalaw( TREKKING TOWN)
On the edge of the Shan Plateau is the town of Kalaw (pop. 70,000), which at some 4,300 feet (1,316 m) above sea level is the highest community along the overland route from the plains into the Lake Inle region. The town was once a British hill station, very popular with both colonial administrators and the Christian missionaries who came here to convert the various mountain tribes to the “true faith”, British-style bungalows with well-tended gardens. Because of the British colonial and missionary heritage, many locals speak English. About 20,000 people live in and around Kalaw.
The size and breadth of the town is deceptive since it sprawls up and over a number of hills – only a portion of it is visible from the market area. The surrounding mountains cater to all tastes and fitness levels, fro m low-intensity half day hikes to for or five day trips to minority hill tribe communities. One advantage of overnight treks is that by evening people are back home in the village after spending a day tending the fields. Lodging is usually in long houses and occasionally in kyaung (Myanmar Buddhist monasteries).
The plateau near Kalaw is inhabited by people of the Palaung and Pa-O tribes, Intha, Shan, taungthu, Taung yo, Danu Kayah, Danaw and Bamar people occupy the mountains to the north and east. Tribes people come into town on Kalaw’s market day, which comes around every five days.
Interesting places in Kalaw: Theindaung, mountain peoples (Tayaw, Palaung, Danu, Pa-O, Taungyoe), viewpoint
Kalaw Region Trekking Route
Day Return trekking in Kalaw
1. Kalaw to Taryaw village
After breakfast, about (8:00 am) departs from hotel by car. Drive about (10 minutes) you will arrive to junction point for trekking. Leave the car at this point and down to the narrow and long road. On the way, you can see the tea plantation, cheroot leaves etc..,. About (2 ½ hours) walk, you can reach to Ywar Thit village. This village has a Danu races; one of the Shan tribe village. After that proceed to Tar Yaw village (about 15 minutes) living with Palaung tribe people. They used to be stayed together at huge long house with six to eight families. You can learn the ways of lives of these people including the cheroot leaf and tea leaf drying process and traditional weaving. And then, proceed to the view point for lunch with beautiful panoramic view of surrounding mountains. After lunch, take a short rest and come back to junction point. Get on the car and come back to hotel.Totally, you have to spend about (6 ½ hours) on that trekking trip.
2. Kalaw to Painnebin village
After breakfast drive for 15 minutes to the north-west and stop at the junction . From here take the footpath to the right. The road and trail goes through beautiful scenery with walking under the pine trees. You can also see the cheroot leaf and orange plantation. The light shines down the valley and the stream flows through the garden and the birds are chattering. After 1 ½ hours you arrive Painnebin village, a Palaung Tribal village with a population of 600 people. This village situated at 1300m above the sea level. These people make their living from agriculture and occasionally from hunting and live in long houses, with 4-5 families sharing the single storied structures. Have your lunch at one of the village houses and can learn the ways of their lives. You can also visit to a family they earn their living with traditional weaving. There is a monastery and basic education school with 5 teachers and 4 classrooms. You can visit this school and chat with the students and teachers. Take a break under the shady Banyan tree and from Painnebin village, you have to walk 45 minutes to reach junction B from where the car will bring you back to Kalaw (appr. 30 minutes drive).
Totally, you have to spend about (4 hours) on that trekking trip.
From Yangon>> By flight via Heho, car, bus
From Mandalay>>By flight via Heho, car, bus, train
From Bagan>>By flight via Heho, car
Possible extension tour>> Pindaya & Inle lake
To the east of Myanmar there is a beautiful valley between the high misty mountains of the Shan Plateau and the Mekong and the Thanlwin (Salween) Rivers. Called the Kyaing Tong Valley this is an area steeped in history for it is the homeland of the Gon Shan, the Akhas, the Lisu, the Wa and the White and Black Lahu. Sandwiched between the Chinese region of Xishanung banna, Laos and Thailand this area also boast of spectacular scenery and diverse ethnicity.
Kyaing Tong (previously called Keng Tung) is the capital of this land. It was known in history by many names: Sandra Kun, Khemarat, Tongapuri but in modern times it is known only as Kyaing Tong.
Kyaing Tong also has a lacquer industry known as Kyaing Tong lacquer ware. It is different from the Bagan style. The finely executed gold filigree is embossed on black lacquer making a distinctive contrast.
Interesting places in Kyaing Tong: Maha Myat Muni Temple, Wat Zom Kham, Hot spring, hill tribe villages of Akha, Ann, Lisu, Wa and others.
About 40km north of Aungban is the town of Pindaya, noted for its extensive limestone caves and picturesque Pontaloke Lake.
A place where legendary cave with over 8000 Buddha Images like a museum exist at the back side of the town greets you a perfect countryside tour. By passing through beautiful landscape with small villages of Pa O, Danu, Taung Yo and other Shan minorities; was earning their living with vegetation and crops along the way.
You can visit Pindaya with Shan paper and umbrella making from mulberry bark, bamboo hat making, and colorful marketwith various items selling.
Arrival Pindaya with the symbol of Spider, beautiful Pontaloke Lake and picturesque Banyan trees will lead you to the cave. Taking a tour inside of the cave within one hour and refresh with Shan Tea and snacks at local shops. If you love trekking, you can do day and overnight trekking to surrounding Danu, Pa O, Palaung and Taung Yo villages.
Shwe U Min Pagoda festival held at full moon day of Tabaung (March). One of the big name pagoda festivals at Shan State, most of the minorities come and visit to Pindaya with their bullock carts camping along the shady Banyan Trees Line near the cave.