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Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival



Myanmar’s Fascinating Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival featuring the Acrobatic One-Legged Rowers of Inle Lake


If you are fortunate enough to find yourself in Myanmar(formerly, Burma) during October– in fact, if you are anywhere in South East Asia, we suggest you consider making a side trip to Myanmar, if only just to experience the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival.  The festival is held once a year on Inle Lake, one of the most famous festivals in Myanmar. It extends for about three weeks in October.  Attended by diverse hill tribes from the surrounding mountains and remote villageseveryone comes to enjoy the fairs, markets, and celebratory festivities.





Four of the five Buddha images from the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda are carried around the lake on a shimmering gilded royal barge.  These Buddha images are over 800 years old and covered in so much gold leaf that the original image is unrecognizable.  Originally there were five Buddhas in the Pagoda, but years ago, the fifth image fell into the lake. This image mysteriously appeared again at the pagoda sometime later, but is no longer carried on the royal barge.

The gilded Royal Barge is towed by long narrow boats manned by one hundred leg-rowers, dressed in colorful costumes and all rowing in unison.  These long boats accompany this beautiful procession as they visit 14 different villages around Inle Lake where the Buddha images are ceremoniously displayed in the village’s monastery each night.  This sight is breathtaking and one that can only be seen in October!  Unique to Myanmar and with an acrobat’s agility, the leg rowers stand upright and row with one leg locked around a long oar and the other foot firmly gripping the flat stern of the narrow boat.

Exciting one-legged rowing competitions are the highlight of the festival. Teams representing various villages around the lake use their strength and agility to win fierce and exhilarating races. You can watch these unusual festivities and races from a private boat and discover much about the culture of Myanmar while enjoying drier, cooler weather at the end of the monsoon season. This is a once in a lifetime photo opportunity and a unique experience you will never forget!

V’explore Tours can create a customized itinerary including land, air and even small ship river cruising to provide a memorable experience for your clients to get the most from this very unique festival. Ask us about our many offerings in Myanmar, The Golden Land.