Inle LakeThe second largest natural lake in Myanmar located in the middle of the greatest depression in Nyaungshwe valley between the two parallel mountain ranges running north to south in the southern Shan State. 35 km from the nearest airport at Heho. There are flights from both Yangon and Mandalay. Yangon 660 km by road, Mandalay 330 km. Inle Lake is shallow, 14 miles long and 7 miles wide, 4358 feet above the sea level among the hazy blue mountains. Inle's most unusual feature is its extraordinary 'leg-rowing fishermen' who have developed an original, eccentric method of rowing their small boats with one leg. Floating gardens are built-up from strips of water hyacinth and mud, dredged from the lakebed. Villages, farms and monasteries perch over the water on stilts. Visitors may observe cottage industries of weaving, netting and cheroot making etc.
The Intha (who live in the Inle Lake) are devout Buddhist at that the most revered 5 Buddha statues are kept in Phaungdaw O Pagoda are widely believed to have mystic miraculous powers. The greatest event of the celebration of the Phaungdaw O Buddha peregrination in the month of (Sept/Oct) where the Intha's would place the revered statutes on a decorated royal barge surrounding by canoes and power boats, making the Inle region tour. Phaungdaw O Pagoda festival draws celebrant from far and near not only for the homage of Buddha statutes abut also for great fun fair and for the fame of Intha's (men) and Inthu's (women) unique leg-rowing competitions. The Intha men are known for their farming and fishing skills while women are known for their superb silk weaving skills.
The largest village on the Inlay Lake; its streets are a web of canals. There are some beautiful teak houses built on large wooden piles driven into the lake bed. The main activity and attraction center at the floating market in the largest canal.
Phaungdaw Oo pagoda
One of the famous principal shrines in Myanmar, this pagoda houses five small Buddha images, which are much revered by the lake-dwellers. Once a year, in late September - early October, there is a pagoda festival during which, four of the five Buddha images tour around the lake in a colorful.
Shwe Indein Pagoda
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 release the fatigue and refresh everybody who ascend to the peak.
This mysterious place is at the end of the marvellous 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.
How to get to Inle Lake
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 an hour. If you are flying from Mandalay to Heho, it takes only 20 minutes. Traveling by car along the uphill and winding road over the Shan Plateau is interesting and well-worth taking although it takes long hours. There is also a regular train service via Thazi Junction to Heho and Shwenyaung, the nearest station to the lake.
A large and bustling market where you can find a real local atmosphere with a variety of produce from the lake.
"If we could take Kalaw with us, we would!" the British are reported to have said when leaving Myanmar. This old hill station on the rim of the Shan Plateau, in the Pineland, remains a favorite place for holidays.
The main attractions of Kalaw are the town itself, with its mock-tutor colonial bungalows, its ethnic mix of people, and it's setting within trekking distance of many ethnic minority villages. Situates 1,400 meters above sea-level. It is located 70 km west of Taunggyi. Many of the Tudor-style houses and English gardens of colonial days remain. In the neighborhood lie villages of Palaung and other hill tribes who come to Kalaw market held every five days in their colorful costumes, adding to the quiet attraction of Kalaw.
Situated at the foot of Mene-taung Range and about 45 km north of Kalaw is a picturesque place called Pindaya. Known, to the world as the home of the countless Buddha Images in its extensive lime stone caves and picturesque lake. The main sight in the area is Pindaya Cave, locally known as Shwe Oo Min Cave and unique Shan traditional paper umbrella making works. The limestone caves contain a maze of chambers with 6,226 Buddha statues. Some of them are tiny, others are huge, and are made of white marble, bronze or plaster, coated with gold leaf. Some of the smaller caves within the complex serve as meditation chambers. Scenic drive over the rolling hills of the Shan plateau through colorful mustard and wheat field. The road from Kalaw to Pindaya (38 km) passes through countryside of magnificent scenic beauty.
The capital of the Kayah State is situated about 130 miles southeast of Kalaw. A very unique feature of this state is the Padaung ethnic tribe (Giraffe Necked Women) whose necks are elongated with layers of brass rings. The beautiful and pleasant surroundings of the Lawpita hydroelectric power plant and the Baluchaung fall are not far off. It can be reached by road, rail and air. Although it is restricted area at the moment if on the relaxation of the restrictions it will definitely be a tourist attraction.
The road to Shan Plateau
This route is mostly covered by large rain trees line with flat land wet and green with young paddy. A large reservoir brimming with water lies to your right and shortly after the 14-mile leg of the journey is Thazi, the railway junction where the main Yangon-Mandalay line branches off to Shwenyaung.
East bound once again, the roads gets bumpier, the countryside remains flat with a few bushes, stunted trees, cacti, goats and cattle. Mulberry, cotton plants and rain trees are close by with small clumps of medium-sized trees further in the distance. Presently the road ascends ever so slightly and then flattens again.
Htanaung and rain trees are no longer present. Instead clumps of bamboo and plum trees appear beside the road. As you climb through twisting and turning winding road more bamboo forests appear with smaller trees with darker green interspersed on the hills. The road becomes even for some distance then rises again on a steeper gradient. The journey onward is a continuous ascent with only a few short stretches of even road.
Forests of dry leafless, medium-sized trees and thorn forests fill the hillsides. The vegetation is greener, the trees larger with denser foliage as we advance. Small hamlets in valleys and lowland along the wayside look fresh and verdant with banana, coconut, mango and other trees.
The road takes many twists and turns as it winds uphill, sometimes on the left, then on the right side of the adjoining hill, with steep cliffs or wooded hillsides towering first on one side of the road and then the other. Away from the cliffs are deep alleys with dry streambeds or with water trickling down the hills. Misty green wooded hills at times seem to pop out on one side with others coming into sight ahead. Tiny settlements with cultivated patches on flat stretches are more frequent. Shan State is one of the main timber production regions for commercially valuable hardwood.
At an altitude of about 600 meters, the scenery is pleasant, the surroundings are lush and green, the air is cooler and the rays of the sun struggling through the mists bear down more gently. Soon you will arrive Wetphyuyay, after another uphill hairpin bend and then rolls through Yay-yar. Both are large villages. Soon you enter Kalaw, a popular hill resort during British days. Located on the western edge of the Shan Plateau at an elevation of 1,300 meters, this small, peaceful town feels cool and pleasant even at noon in dry season. Beyond Kalaw one may notice ducks and water buffaloes, which we have not seen for some time. The terrain is now flat and the road passes through beautiful country. This region produces temperate climate fruits such as pears, peaches and oranges in addition to rice, tea, wheat, Soya beans, groundnuts, tobacco, potatoes, garlic, sunflower seeds and dried green cordia leaves used as cheroot wrappers. Shortly before Aungban a road branches north from the main road in the direction of the small town of Pindaya where the Pindaya Caves are located. Continue in an easterly direction from Aungban to Heho, the nearest airport for this region, then to Shwenyaung. Here, the 11 km road to Nyaungshwe and Inle turns off to the south while the main road leads to Taunggyi.