If possible, festivals should be a part of planning your bicycle tour itinerary for Myanmar. They are more authentic than in the rest of the region and sparsely attended by tourists. One of our favorites, the Paung Daw U Festival takes place at Inle Lake. This festival, held with great pageantry as well as reverence, is one of the most popular in all Myanmar and the most popular in the Shan State.One of the most famous shrines in Myanmar, Paung Daw U Pagoda in Inle Lake houses five small Buddha images. Once a year, at the end of September or early October, there is an 18-day festival during which the five Buddha images are ceremonially rowed around the Lake in a colorful barge accompanied by many other boats (with the famous) Inle leg rowers.
Historic note: Although there are five Buddha images at the pagoda, only four Buddha Images are carried on royal barge and conveyed around 14 villages on the Lake because it is said that once the barge tipped over and the fifth image was nearly lost and only later, somehow, mysteriously appeared back at the pagoda.
The barge is towed by the boats of leg rowers and hundreds of boats follow the colorful procession. Large crowds of people gather on the lake shores to celebrate the occasion as it passes by. There are also different dance shows and fairs during this time and the most interesting event of the festival, especially for travelers, are the boat races by the leg rowers. Fiercely contested between villages, it is one of teh highlights of the festival. No where else in the world do boatmen propel their boats by such a unique method and here we'll see them actually racing.
The Paung Daw U Pagoda festival will begins the end of September and ending mid-October and follows a set schedule of touring on the lake (see the 2011 schedule below). The 3rd and 7th days of the festival are especially recommend for taking photographs. The weather at this time is ideal, cool and at the end of the monsoon season, also a time when few other travelers can be expected. Comfortable viewing on the lake from our small private boat (right) with refreshments and snacks. In the evening we'll enjoy further festivities in local towns celebrating around the lake, including parades and cuisine.
Contact us for more information about other festivals if the dates for the Paung Daw U festival does not correspond with dates planned for your cycling tour.
2011 Schedule of the Paung Daw U FESTIVAL
04 Oct at 07:00 procession from Lin Kin to Nyaung Shwe