Pindaya and its limestone caves are situated at over 1150 metres above sea level. Pindaya is 40 km from Kalaw, a hill station and one of the major trekking centres in Myanmar. It’s a great place for exploring with there being one particular highlight.
Shwe U Min Paya
Shwe U Min Paya (Golden Cave Pagoda) with around 8,000 images of Buddha made from materials as diverse as cement, marble, teak and lacquer stands at the entrance to the caves. It is thought that the first statues were placed there in the 11th Century though the caves themselves are many million years old; the Buddhas now form quite a labyrinth. There are plenty of peaceful places for meditation as a result and tourists on a Myanmar holiday are likely to come across people doing just that as they explore. In February there is a Festival in the name of the Pagoda. It is the main annual celebration for the Taungyo tribe involving music and dancing.
The cave is entirely natural and well able to host both the pagoda as well as the numerous statues. What little changes were required have been purely for safety and lighting reasons.
Legend has it seven princesses were swimming in the Lake one day and took shelter in a cave when a storm came. A giant spider imprisoned them and so today’s town symbol is a spider.The caves overlook the Lake with the quiet town on its shoreline. Our Pindaya travel guide has no means of verifying legend of course.
The best way to get to the caves is by local horse and cart so as to keep your energy for the 200 steps you have to climb before finally reaching them. The best time to visit is in March when pilgrims come in huge numbers for the annual festival. The festival lasts five days and at the foot of the hill there will be plenty of stalls as well as performances by the locals.
The Surrounding Countryside
A hot air balloon trip is a great way to see the region from another perspective. If you are energetic then hiking through the region is a wonderful experience. Myanmar tour packages can be tailored to clients’ wishes and some certainly visit Myanmar in order to explore the beautiful environment.
There are long treks if you have the time; Pindaya to Kalaw is especially good going through Danu and Pa-O areas, tribes that are proud of their identities and dress. Their language is altogether different from Burmese. Incidentally there is little English spoken although on organised Myanmar travel packages that is of little consequence.
The lake is pleasant without any real impact from commercialism. Myanmar travel takes visitors to many great parts of the country. Where religious sites are found in great natural surroundings then there is the best of both worlds. Good tour companies put packages together but are also responsive to clients that wish for a tailored itinerary.
Our Pindaya travel guide is an introduction to just one small part of Myanmar. There are many more and plenty for you to think about when deciding on your next holiday destination.
Read more: Bagan travel guide