Afloat on Faith: Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival Celebration

Nestled in the verdant highlands of Shan plateau, an incredible place, Inle Lake gleams like a sapphire amidst a tapestry of hills and valleys. Its calm waters, crisscrossed by traditional leg-rowing fisherman, mirror the sky, offering a picture of serenity that beckons travelers from all corners of the globe. This year, as the golden sun of 2023 rises, the second largest lake - Inle prepares to host one of Myanmar's most enchanting celebrations: the Inle Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival. 

This event, steeped in history and devotion, promises not only a spiritual journey but a sensory fiesta of colors, sounds, and tastes. Dear wanderers, seekers, and lovers of authentic experiences, 10th October to 1st November 2023  heralds a special edition of this festival, with surprises and moments that have never been witnessed before. Pack your bags, open your hearts, and set sail for a journey into the heart of Myanmar's rich cultural tapestry. The Inle Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival eagerly awaits your arrival!

History of the buddha images

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the enigmatic origins of the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the shining beacon of Lake Inle's spiritual heart. This pagoda houses five small Buddha images. Nestled among the tranquil waters and floating gardens, five Buddha images house a secret that has intrigued and captivated countless souls: the four sacred Buddha statues.

These aren't just any statues. They are wrapped in layers upon layers of gold leaf, lovingly placed by devotees over centuries, to the point where their original forms are no longer discernible. They are embodiments of faith, reverence, and the timeless bond between the Intha people and their beliefs.

Although there are five Buddha images at the pagoda, only four Buddha Images are carried on a royal barge and conveyed around 14 villages on the Lake. This is because once, the barge tipped over and the fifth image was nearly lost and only later, somehow, mysteriously appeared back at the pagoda.

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Inle Lake, Myanmar

The Heart of the Celebration: Inle Lake, Shan Region

Situated at the majestic Shan Hills of Shan State, Lake Inle awaits, shimmering with tales as old as time. With its serene waters reflecting a sky painted with the shades of dawn and dusk, it's not just a lake – it's an experience. The floating villages with large gardens, anchored on this vast expanse, are not mere settlements; they're a testament to human resilience, creativity, and the spirit of community.

But it's not just the enchanting landscape that beckons. The soul of this lake, the true essence of its charm, lies in its people: the Intha. The locals are known for their unique leg-rowing technique, the Intha people have seamlessly woven their daily life into the rhythm of the lake. And come festival time, they transform this everyday space into a vibrant tableau of faith, devotion, and celebration.

Witness the intricate ceremonies, handed down through generations, as they come to life on this watery stage. From the rhythmic beat of the drums announcing the arrival of the revered Buddha statues, to the spirited boat races that send ripples across the otherwise placid waters, every ritual resonates with the deep spiritual faith of the Intha.

A Royal Barge and Intha parade around the Lake 

Experience the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival: Unmissable Festive Highlights

Thrilling Boat Races: Feel the adrenaline rush as traditional teams from various villages fiercely compete in boat races, a display of synchronization, strength, and community spirit that’s a sight to behold.

Sacred Rituals: Be part of the mesmerizing ceremony of placing the revered sacred Buddha images on the royal barge, a ritual rich in history and significance.

Connect with Locals: Engage with the vibrant Intha community, and immerse yourself in local people's customs, popular local dishes, floating market, support local economy at handicraft workshops and age-old traditions that come alive during the festival.

Capture Timeless Moments: Stay at the hotels dotted around the lake's shores. Bring your camera and capture breathtaking moments, from the shimmering reflections of the golden barge on the lake to the energetic hues of the boat races — memories that will last a lifetime.

Leg- rowers at Inle lake and Rowing competitions

Beyond the Festival: Exploring the Surroundings of Inle Lake Region

Just as the vibrant Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival captures the spiritual heart of the Inle lake area, the surrounding region offers a treasure trove of experiences that captivate the soul. Imagine gliding through the serene waters to discover the floating gardens, a unique and sustainable testimony to Inle's innovative farming. Let the rhythmic clatter of wooden looms guide you to the weaving workshops, where intricate patterns come to life through hands that have mastered a craft passed down generations. Lastly, find solace in the timeless walls of the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, a sanctuary that stands as a testament to devotion and serenity. 

Where to Stay

Inle Lake offers a diverse selection of hotels and resorts, catering to different budgets and preferences. From affordable accommodations to opulent resorts, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

  • Inle Princess Resort: A luxurious resort offering traditional chalets.
  • Novotel Inle Lake Myat Min: Another upscale option with stunning views of the lake.
  • Inle Heritage: A unique stay where you can experience traditional stilt houses of the Intha people.
  • Paramount Inle Resort: Located on stilts over the lake, offering traditional Shan-style rooms.
  • The Serenity Inle Resort: Offers both lake view and mountain view rooms.
  • Budget Guesthouses and Hotels: There are also numerous budget-friendly options in Nyaung Shwe, the main town near Inle Lake.

Where to Eat

Inle Lake and Nyaung Shwe boast a diverse range of dining establishments, catering to every taste from authentic Burmese delicacies to delectable international fare.

  • The Shan Restaurant: Located in Nyaung Shwe, it offers delicious Shan-style dishes.
  • Inthar Heritage House: Not just a place to stay, they have a restaurant that serves traditional Burmese and Intha dishes.
  • Sunset Inle Restaurant: Offers a mix of Burmese, Chinese, and Thai cuisine.
  • The Bamboo Hut: Located in Nyaung Shwe, they serve traditional Shan and Burmese food.
  • The French Touch: For those craving European dishes, this is a great spot in Nyaung Shwe.
  • Street Food: Don't miss out on trying local snacks and dishes from street vendors, especially during the festival.

The Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival is a significant event, and many local vendors will set up stalls offering traditional foods and snacks. It's a great opportunity to try authentic Intha and Shan cuisine. So, while the festival might be your reason to visit, let the magic of Inle be your reason to stay. Come, experience, and become a part of a world where festivity and daily life flow as seamlessly as the waters of the lake itself.

Floating Garden in Inle Lake

Surrounding the Inle Lake

Join us for the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival and be part of a celebration that's not just a festival, but a soulful journey into Myanmar's cultural heart! 🌟

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September 17, 2023