Set in and around the stilted villages of Inle Lake the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival is one of the largest Buddhist festivals in Myanmar. The festival is held from the first day of the waxing moon to the third day after the full moon of Thadingyut: September and October in our Western calendar.
The celebrations continue for more than 20 days as four out of five revered Buddha images are paraded around the lake in an elaborate, gilded barge pulled by traditional long boats manned by hundreds of rowers. The locals involved in pulling the barge row in a unique fashion with their legs, a method designed to aid endurance. Throughout the festival rowing competitions are held, which makes for a wonderfully visual spectacle. Pilgrims from all over the country come to this festival to pay homage to the four Buddha images and gain merit whilst enjoying the festive air of the event. Over the years these images have become so embalmed by gold leaf that it is difficult to recognise them. The mysterious fifth Buddha image is left to 'guard' their original resting place at the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda whilst the festival takes place. Do make sure you ask your guide for the story of the fifth image!
The order of the procession is subject to late changes as there is no fixed route for the festival. Your guide throughout your period in Inle Lake will take you to the best locations to enable you to join in the festivities.