Pin Laung: Pa-O Land With True Natural Beauties
Pa-O land or Pa-O region’s Pin Laung Town was said to be very beautiful by those who were there. Those who had visited many regions of Myanmar would say that Myanmar is beautiful with its natural beauties. However the beauty of Pin Laung is somewhat in a majestic and peaceful way.
It was a region once governed by saophas (local rulers or royalties) and the region was known as Loilon region. Now it is Pa-O Self-Administered Zone. It was in southern Shan State and was about 50 miles away from Taunggyi. Sao Moe Kyaw was Pin Laung (formerly Loilon) region’s last saopha and relinquished his powers in 29 April 1959.
Situated 4,820 ft. above sea level, weather in Pin Laung Town is cool. It also rain considerably in the raining season. For a person like me who came up from hot and humid delta area, the Pin Laung weather was very nice. Sometime water became frozen during the winter time.
How to go to Pin Laung
Pin Laung was a town midway between major cities so it is quite an awkward destination. From Yangon, most will take an overnight express bus to Loikaw reaching Pin Laung at an unearthly hour of 2:30 or 3 am. From Nay Pyi Taw, it can be reached via Kintha. By air, you’ll land at Heho and then drive down to Pin Laung for about two hours.
Places to go in and near Pin Laung
There were some places to visit in Pin Laung but most drive out of town to visit villages, hike into forests or up a hill. Pin Laung was surrounded by natural greenery and there were many natural waterfalls and caves that are of interest. There were even places to go trekking or hiking or even rock climbing! As I’m not that sporty type of person, I’ll only mention places that I went to.
Pin Laung Haw or Palaceး
Bad news! The Pin Laung Haw (Palace) had totally collapsed on 19 May 2020 by a strong weather. The front end of Pin Laung Haw had collapsed while the back end was in a dilapidated condition looking at though it was hit by a strong earthquake and was on the verge of collapsing in May 2016. But this time is terrible. It was over 106 years old. Now the Shan authorities and Non-Government Organizations are trying to rebuild it again as a Museum after making a decision beyond covid-19 period. Relatives of the saopha still lived in nearby houses and visitors can pay a visit but be sure to be respectful toward the host. Comparing the sad state at the present with its glorious past could bring tears to those who tend to be sad.
The tombs of saophas and families are in the town center near Mway Daw Pagoda. Their ancient titles and names can be examined from the cemetery record.
Mway Daw Pagoda
Mway Daw Pagoda can be seen from afar across Kan Tha Ya Lake as you enter Pin Laung Town. The lake itself was always crowded with local and foreign visitors.
Pin Laung Myoma Market
Although it is right smack in the middle of the town, it is usually busy only on the market days that were held once every five days. The market days are when exotic traditional Shan foods that were not readily available everyday even in other towns and villages were offered. Restaurants and eateries near the market also offer special dishes on the market days. It is advisable to check out when the next market day will be and time it to coincide with your visit in order to taste local Shan delicacies.
Loi Maung Taung or Loi Maung Mountain
The road beside the Mway Daw Pagoda will take you to Loi Maung Taung or Loi Maung Mountain. This is the highest peak near Pinlaung rising up to a height of 6,124 ft.
At such height, the weather at the top of the mountain is severe and changes drastically in a moment. It might be misty but can become sunny and hot within a moment or the other way round. At the summit is a monastery, a pagoda and a communication tower. The mountain is very attractive for active sports persons, mountaineers and hikers alike. As the summit can also be reached by cars or motorcycles, even non-sporty person like me can enjoy the view up there. Inle Lake as well as other peaks can be seen from the summit. Most went up to enjoy the sunset view and timed the ascent to coincide with the sunset.
There’s a strange habit of eating earth in this region. The edible earth pits were right beside the road or trek up Loi Maung Mountain. For a visitor like me, the ordinary and edible earths were undistinguishable. It is best to check out with locals. Villagers roast the edible earth and eat it as a snack.
Nam Hoo Pagoda Hill
Nam Hoo Pagoda Hill near Pin Laung Town is a place where the town can be seen closely from above.
Pintale Kyaik Hti Yo Pagoda
Pintale Kyaik Hti Yo Pagoda is yet another place rising up above the town and yet near the town offering a close up view of the town from above.
Lone Naga Pat Pagoda
Lone Naga Pat Pagoda is a must visit place if you were ever in Pin Laung. The views along the way to the pagoda were breathtakingly beautiful. The history of the pagoda was too mythical and I’ll leave it for visitors to learn about it in their visit and to believe it or not!
Thitsa Khayu Pond
Near Lone Naga Pat pagoda is a small pond called Thitsa Khayu (snail) pond with many snails in it.
Sa Ma Kyauk Sar Pagoda
Sa Ma Kyauk Sar Pagoda or Sa Ma Stone Inscription Pagoda is right beside the path that’ll take you to Lone Naga Pat Pagoda. In my mind the stone inscriptions looks more like a fossil remains of the snails!
Kaungdaw Natural Cave
Kaungdaw natural cave with a statue of a hunter known as Kaungdaw was really beautiful. Much thanks was owed to the locals and the head monk of a local monastery for maintaining the nature. We actually went quite deep into the cave hoping to reach the end but didn’t dare to go any further beyond the point where electric lights were lit. The sight inside the cave was great with overhanging speleothems or cave formations but as we went deeper, there were waters on the ground so we beat a hasty retreat back to the mouth of the cave.
Taung Hti Bwar Cave and Wingabar Mountain
Wingabar Mountain was 3.5 miles (5.7 kilometre) from Pin Laung near the village of Taung Hti Bwar. The cave at Wingabar Mountain known as Yar Za Cave or Hti Bwar Cave was long with many paths making it confusing for some visitors to find the way in or out. This makes the visit to the cave an exciting one. Most visitors can figure their way in or out so don’t be too concerned about getting lost but you may choose to go along with some locals too.
Oranges from Pin Laung were good. Even though we went at a time when it was not available, we visited an orange farm. During winter time, the orange tree will be full of oranges. A visit to an orange farm is one you must make if you ever made it to Pin Laung whether there are oranges or not.
Villages Producing Pa-O Traditional Wicker Ware
Villages producing Pa-O traditional wicker ware are must-visit places for any visitors, local or foreigner. Buying one as a souvenir would be better still as all were within the range of K 1,000 to 5,000. Ask a local guide to show you around. The guide will show you right into the homes where the wicker wares were produced. You will not only see first-hand how the wicker wares were produced but also how the locals live.
Pa-O lacquer ware
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Pa-O had lacquer ware. Even though this practice was becoming close to extinction, it would be great if the locals continue to produce this useful handicrafts that at the least would be a very attractive souvenir for any visitors be they locals or foreigners.
Footprint of King Kyansittha
Ask a local guide to show you where a footprint said to be of King Kyansittha was. There were two footprints of the great King Kyansittha of Bagan at some distance from one another near Pin Laung.
Many More Places of Interests
There were many more places of interests near Pin Laung like
Sin Hsin Waterfall
Aye Chan Myay Resort
Ywet Pone Thi (Pa-O) Coffee factory
Balu Chaung water hole and cave
Shan paper making works
Pa-O traditional light festival and Rain Calling Festival where locally produced rockets were fired to induce rain
Nant Mon Waterfalls.
Use Local Guides to See All Places of Interests
In Myanmar, we used to say that if we ask we can reach any village and the same goes with any places too. But if you don’t know what was there to see or visit, you wouldn’t be able to ask and visit it. So it is best to get in touch with a local guide and work out in advance what can be seen or visited. Find out what can be seen and where to go and then decide what to see and where to go. On my part, I contacted a local guide and arranged my trip to Pin Laung and its neighbourhood. Here's the contact of him: Khun Lun Sein (Ph: 09 260890880, 09 783530045)
Where to Stay
Still, there's no luxury hotels yet. But there's some motels and so called hotels. I don't think their services will meet your expectation but no choice.
Where to Eat
Try local food there first. I love to have my breakfast at the vendor with no name opposite of Mway Daw Pagoda. You can have very yummy local food and rice porridge there. If you want Chinese lunch or dinner, please consider Aung Yin Yin restaurant as first choice. There's another good restaurant with nice view called San Nandaw.
May all have a happy visit to Pinlaung and nearby places.
Thiha Lu Lin (Thiha, the Traveller)
Photo :: Thiha Lu Lin, Nay Myo, Khun Lunsein
Camera :: SONY Alpha 7II with 16 - 35mm Lens
Photos are modified in Lightroom by Thiha Lu Lin
Translated by Handytips.