Kakku is home to 2,478 stupas arranged neatly in rows across a square kilometre of Shan State Hillside. It is one of the most impressive monuments in Myanmar. We set off for Kakku after a sunrise boat ride to see the sunrise and to explore Inle Lake’s treasures. You must see the stunning Kakku pagodas to believe them. This hidden treasure of Shan State is worth it. If you are planning to visit Inle Lake or Kakku, here’s how to get there and what we did during our half-day trip from Inle Lake. Kakku was one of our favorite sights in Myanmar, and it is definitely worth the trip!
Kakku, Myanmar’s most famous sight, is a vast collection of 2,478 stupas. Some date the site back to the 3rd century BC. Others credit it with being established by the Indian Emperor Ashoka. King Alaungsithu, who ruled over Bagan in the 12th century, extended the original pagoda collection. Many more were added in 17th and 18th Centuries.
Kakku, Myanmar’s second-largest ethnic group, is a place of religious devotion. The site has been extensively restored, but has been severely damaged by earthquakes and extreme weather in recent years.
How to get to Kakku
Kakku, 33 miles from Tounggyi (the capital of the Shan State), is approximately 2.5 hours from Inle Lake. Tounggyi runs along the mountain range above Inle Lake. Some roads are not in good condition, but it is worth the effort.
To plan and research on the move, a 4G Sim is vital. Our Myanmar sim car was collected from Bangkok airport. We found it to be invaluable during our travels across the country.
Our Pa’O Guide
We made the necessary stop at the Pa’O Collective Centre when we arrived in Tounggyi to pay our entry fees and to pick up our Pa’O Guide – it’s required that the trip be taken with a local guide due to local laws.
Pa’O guides are local members and wear traditional Pa’O clothing that includes a colourful and flag-badged jacket. This is to show their heritage. Our guide was very interesting and gave us a lot of information about both Kakku as well as the culture of Shan State.
We were immediately struck by the sheer number of stupas that lined the horizon as we drove up to Kakku. Two tall, pale pink, beige, and orange stupas line the horizon in neat rows. They are flanked by a few thousand smaller stupas. This unique style is only found in the Shan State region.
Stupas feature fascinating figures such as Buddhas, angels or dancers. They are also decorated with mythical beasts.
Kakku, due to its remoteness from other Myanmar tourist attractions, is usually quiet on weekdays. We met very few tourists as we walked around, and the only sound we heard was the bells chiming.