Just when Buddhist temples and pagodas begin to look the same, Myanmar will surprise its visitors.
Shwe Oo Min Pagoda is nestled not at the mouth of a cave, but within it. While one would think that with space being somewhat limited within a cave, there would be some reservation as to how many statues should be put inside. However, enthusiasm prevailed, and the cavern walls and passages of Shwe Oo Min are covered by row after row of golden Buddha statues.
What is particularly fascinating is that the limestone cave complex that houses Shwe Oo Min is entirely natural, with very little engineering being done to widen or modify the passages beyond what is required for safety and lighting. The best time to visit the cave pagoda is during the early part of March, when pilgrims and casual visitors alike flock to it for its annual festival.
The base of the hill that the complex sits within becomes covered in small tents and stalls selling everything from food to cheroots (the Southeast Asian equivalent of a cigar). Expect the stalls to be flanked by performances by the various peoples of the Shan State, adding a carnival's flair to the five-day celebration.