Among the most revered of the many sacred places dotted around the Shan Plateau is the cave complex at Pindaya, 37 miles (60km) north of Inle Lake, where a limestone cliff is riddled with caves full of gilded Buddha images. Ranging from tiny to huge, more than 2,000 figures are crammed into the largest grotto, Shwe Umin – a 490-ft (150-m) hollow whose ceiling is encrusted with stalactites. Below the caves, the leafy banks of Pone Ta Lake hold a couple of stylish café-restaurants whose terraces catch the cooling breezes off the water.

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