Hidden in the hills east of Inle Lake, deep in the territory of the Pa O tribe, Kakku is a forest of pagodas spread over a hillside. According to Pa O legend there are 7,622 pagodas here though a recent survey counted nearer 2,400 – still a very impressive number. It is claimed that the site was founded by Buddhist missionaries in the 3rd century BC though the oldest pagodas here seem to date from the 16th century. The pagodas are built in a variety of styles, some unique to the region and decorated with deities, floral designs and mythical animals. The journey here via Taunggyi passes along a scenic road flanked by Pa O villages and farmland. An annual festival is held here on the full moon day of Tabaung.
Situated on the shore of the ‘second’ Inle Lake reached via a pretty canal from its more famous neighbour, the village of Sagar was the seat of a Shan Saw Bwa, or hereditary prince. This is an isolated area little visited by travellers and has only been open to tourism for the last few years. A visit here is all about the journey. The beautiful three hour boat ride to the village takes you past peaceful Pa O, Intha and Shan villages set against the backdrop of surrounding hills. The area is also known for good bird watching possibilities. Close to the village is the ancient Tharkong Pagoda which dates back to the 16th century.
The administrative capital of Shan State, Taunggyi ‘Big Mountain’ sits at an altitude of almost 5000 feet / 1,600 metres in the Shan hills. This is a busy market town with an interesting mixture of people including residents of Indian and Nepali descent as well as populations of various local hill tribes. Highlights include the new, old and gem markets, the Shan State Cultural Museum and the Sulamuni Pagoda, which may remind you of the famous and distinctive Ananda Pagoda in Bagan. The highlight of the year is undoubtedly the nationally famous Hot-Air balloon festival which takes place around the full moon day of Tazaungmon. This is one of Myanmar’s most famous and popular festivals and features competitions, fireworks and the release of hundreds of balloons of various shapes and designs. If you are interested in attending the festivities please book with us well in advance as available accommodation fills up quickly.