Many visitors to Myanmar include a quick stop to Pindaya, passing through for an hour or two on the way to Kalaw or Inle Lake. But let us tell you a little secret: Pindaya has so many great things to see, it is well worth staying a night or two! Rich cultural traditions, pristine natural landscapes, outdoor activities, cool fresh air, great food- these are just a few of the reasons that our team at Myanmar Diaries loves Pindaya. And we are happy to share our secret spots with you to help you make the most of your time in Pindaya!
A patchwork of colours
The journey to Pindaya- whether from Inle Lake or Kalaw- is one of the most spectacular drives in all of Myanmar. Thanks to the fertile soil in this part of the Shan State, crops can be grown year round. The road is lined by farms and fields displaying various shades of greens and dark earthy colours.
The town itself sits in a small valley surrounded by lush, rolling hills. At the centre is Botalote Lake, a tranquil body of water surrounded by large, leafy trees. Nearby are residential neighborhoods and streets lined with shops and a handful of Buddhist temples. This combination of natural beauty and small town sites makes Pindaya one of Myanmar’s most picturesque towns.
Getting a true taste of local culture
The best way to start the day in Pindaya is with a visit to the morning market. Locals from Pindaya and the surrounding villages gather here daily to buy and sell fresh produce, meats and dried goods. The kaleidoscope of colours is a shutterbug’s dream and you will surely see some exotic items you have never seen before. As well you will get a chance to mingle with the locals while at the market, some of whom may be wearing traditional costumes.
Hopefully this walk has helped you to work up an appetite as there are many great snacks on your try in Bespoke Pindaya Tours. One of the most unusual items is tea leaf salad, a mix of fermented tea leaves, fried crispy beans, shredded cabbage, sliced tomatoes and roasted garlic. Since the hills around Pindaya have many tea plantations, it is easy to find this dish in most shops. Shan noodles are another popular dish in Pindaya as well as tofu nhway, a combination of melted tofu, noodles and spices that is perfect for breakfast on a chilly winter morning.
Enchanting Caves, Traditional Crafts
Pindaya is famous for its limestone caves, a series of vast caverns filled with Buddha statues. Travel into the hills to the west of town, taking an elevator up to the main entrance of the caves. After your eyes adjust to the dark, you will find yourself surrounded by more than 8,000 Buddha statues in all shapes and sizes. Take your time wandering through the caves, admiring the statues and the natural stalactite and stalagmite formations.
Back out in the light of day, stop for a photo at the entrance where a bizarre statues of a prince and a spider awaits. The sculpture represents a legend about how the caves were formed, a tale beloved by the people of Pindaya. Then it’s onto a nearby workshop where traditional paper and umbrellas are made. Watch as the skilled craftsmen make paper out of the bark of the mulberry tree and carve unique wooden umbrellas with simple tools.
Take a walk on the green side
Most travellers to Myanmar head to Kalaw to go trekking. But Pindaya has trails that are just as spectacular as those found around Kalaw. From half day walks to Myanmar’s best overnight treks, the options are endless. In just an hour you can be walking through spectacular tea plantations and enjoying sweeping views of Pindaya town and Botalote Lake. The trails are uncrowded, with only the occasional farmer or school kid passing by. You will pass through villages inhabited by the Danu, Shan and Palaung people, stopping to chat with them and to learn about their daily life. If you opt for an overnight trek, a village homestay will bring you even closer to the culture and people of Myanmar. Although the accommodation is basic, it is comfortable and an experience that is sure to be a highlight of your Myanmar holiday.
Zar Yi Hnin (Ms.)
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- Staring in awe at the Buddha statues in Pindaya caves
- Trekking through the Shan highlands
- Watching skilled craftsmen create traditional paper and umbrellas
- Rubbing elbows with the locals at the morning market
BEST TIME TO VISIT :
- From September to March
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