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Pindaya is one of the most interesting places in Myanmar for anyone who likes culture and art but somehow many people don’t put it on their Myanmar itinerary. It is actually one of our best recommendations for an off the beaten track experience in Myanmar and if you haven’t heard about this place before, continue reading to find out why it was one of our favorite places to visit in Myanmar and all the things to do in the area.
How to Get to Pindaya
Pindaya is a small town located in the west of Shan State, Myanmar, in the Taunggyi District. You can catch a flight to the nearest airport, Heho airport and from there it will take you approximately 3 hours by car to get to Pindaya. From Inle Lake to Pindaya it takes approximately 2 hours by car.
Why Should Pindaya Be on Your Myanmar Itinerary?
If you are looking for authentic places in Myanmar, then the Pindaya region is one of Myanmar’s hidden gems. For most people, Pindaya’s main attraction must be the famous Pindaya Caves but there are so many other things to do in Pindaya! Our top attraction was learning more about Myanmar’s culture and lifestyle at the local family-owned workshops. If you are interested in photographing, viewing or buying some of Myanmar’s handicrafts straight from the source, this is the place to do it!
From the moment we were picked up by our guide at Heho aiport and started the car ride to Pindaya, we were amazed by the gorgeous agricultural landscape, patches of various greens, browns and yellows were woven together into a marvelous natural quilt. It is such a unique experience to ride through the villages and see uncommon sights we usually don’t get to witness, here we discovered authentic Myanmar! So what are the top things to do and see in Pindaya?
Top Things to Do and See in Pindaya
Visit The Unique Pindaya Caves
The main attraction in the area must be the Pindaya Caves. You can visit these unique caves that hold a collection of more than 8,000 Buddha sculptures of various sizes and made from various materials such as marble or bronze, some of which are coated with gold leaves. The statues date back to the 18th century. We walked around these enormous caves which were filled with locals and tourists alike and we couldn’t help ourselves but take dozens of pictures of the various Buddha statues and magnificent stalactites that hang over our heads as a reminder of the forces of mother nature. No wonder it is one of the tops attractions in Pindaya!
See How Myanmar Handicrafts Are Made
Anything related to culture and art is always at the top of out list of things to do and we adored the small family-owned workshops of Pindaya. At these small workshops or plants, you get to experience first-hand the making of artifacts and really value the amount of time and precision it takes to create these small handicrafts or products that we take for granted since we usually buy them straight from our local stores. Anyone who is interested in learning more about Myanmar arts and crafts will really love and appreciate Myanmar’s family-owned factories and artisans and should definitely include it in his list of top things to do in the area. We visited a small factory for paper umbrellas (they sell many other beautiful artifacts made from rice paper). We got to watch the different stages of the making of the umbrellas, from the making of the rice paper itself, through the carving of the umbrella’s base that is made from bamboo and finally the hand-painting on the umbrella itself. This small family owned factory was one of our top attractions!
Learn About Myanmar's Culture and Lifestyle
One of our favorite things to do in every destination we visit is to talk with the locals and watch their everyday activities. We’ve always found it is the best way to learn about their culture and lifestyle. In Pindaya you can also visit other small family-owned factories to expand your knowledge of the Burmese traditions and lifestyle. Both hand-made cigars (cheroots) and tea leaves have a place of honor in the Burmese culture. We visited a family whose specialty is drying the leaves from which these local hand-rolled cigars are made. At this house only the drying process itself is made and the leaves are sent to other places to be rolled into cigars.
Tea leaves are a very important ingredient in the Burmese cuisine. We paid a visit to a small tea leaves workshop where the family dries and sort out the local famous tea leaves – which are considered as a delicacy in the local cuisine. Make sure to taste the famous tea leaf salad – Laphet. When visiting these small workshops, we recommend hiring a guide if you really want to deepen your knowledge of the culture.
Soak in the Wonderful Sights of Myanmar Agricultural Land
We fell in love with the unique beauty and topography of this authentic area in Myanmar. Unfortunately, it was one of the first legs of our trips and the weather was quite rainy accompanied by huge puddles of mud. Therefore, we were quite lazy and relied on the fact we could take similar pictures in other areas. Wrong! this area is so unique and we really regret not taking more pictures of the authentic sights of this area, the beautiful landscape dotted with dark and light green or the occasional field of blooming yellowish flowers, the local children riding their buffalo on their way to plow the field, sometimes even standing straight on the animal’s back (no need for Pilates classes – they have excellent core muscles), the motorbikes that passed us by, loaded with huge piles of straw, rugs and baskets, not to mention the stop in one of the villages where the proud parents of the bride invited us to say hello to the happy couple and join the festivities. It is truly one of the most unique places to visit in Myanmar.
Do you still have any doubts? Pindaya is definitely one of Myanmar’s hidden gems and if you are looking for an off the beaten track experience or want to learn more about Myanmar’s culture and lifestyle, you should definetly check the top attractions in Pindaya and put it on your Myanmar itinerary.
Where to eat in Pindaya
If you are looking for a nice place to have lunch or dinner, check out the Green Tea Room. Though it is a restaurant that many tourist groups stop here for lunch, the setting is beautiful (ask for a table overlooking the lake) and the food was very good! (first time we tasted the long green beans with cumin seeds and we just loved it).
These were our favorite things to do in the Pindaya area from there we continued to Inle Lake. Don’t forget to read our tips for planning a trip to Myanmar before you go or go ahead and read about the top things to do in the amazing Inle Lake!