Thursday, 21 February 2013

Visiting Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung monastery in Nyaungshwe (Inle Lake, Myanmar)

Myanmar is full of temples, stupas and monasteries. Sometimes it can be a bit too much, and you might feel as you are tired and fed up with seeing yet another one. However, there are a couple of holy places that are worth visiting. One of them is Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung monastery in Nyaungshwe (Inle Lake).

It is one of the most photographed places around Inle Lake. Every day hundreds of tourists come here to take a photo of its characteristical oval windows and watch the monks going around their daily lives.
The monastery is located around 30 minutes walk from Nyaungshwe (Inle Lake, Myanmar). The straight, paved road is surrounded by water and rice fields, making it a great easy trek.

View on the way to the Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung monastery

However, if you don't fancy getting there on your own two feet, you can easily access it by a car or a motorbike in just 10 minutes.

The small monastery is located just by the road and consists of two buildings, where the monks sleep and eat, and one main congregation hall, made entirely out of wood. It is beautifully carved with a few Buddha statues.

One of the Buddha statues in the main hall

If you are a keen photographer, it will be a treat as the light is really great.

The best light is just before the noon

I found a great model!

 At around 11 o'clock the monks gather in the temple to meditate. They are very used to tourists and won't take much notice of you, unless you stick your camera into their faces and keep disturbing them.
A good way to enjoy the meditation is to sit down with them and be as quiet as possible.

A novice being bored during a meditation session

There is a big yard outside the temple, where the monks play football, or take a bath. I tried not to be too obvious with my camera, so I took this sneaky photo of them. 

Monks taking a bath

There is also another small temple, which can be easily missed. It is located behind the yard, on the right hand side from the wooden building, across from the Shan style golden stupa. It is worth visiting for its thousands of small Buddha statues, which have been donated by the local and foregin pilgrims, and some unusual small, brick corridors. Notice the floor, made out of beautiful tiles.

Thousands of small Buddha statues. Some are nicely dressed in monks robes.

Tiled floor in the small temple, behind the monastery

The monastery is very popular with tourists. During my visit there were a couple of big buses parked outside, and it looked like this place was on itinerary of every organised trip visiting the Inle Lake. However, if you wait around for a bit I guarantee that you will be able to enjoy peace and quiet. The best thing is that the entry is free and you can stay there as much as you like. It is the best time to visit the monastery before it turns out into a full blown tourist circus. 

Monks during their morning medidation


  1. These are lovely pictures. Your trip looks very interesting so far. So tempted to get a trip there booked...

    1. You need to go! Myanmar is such an amazing place!