The capital of Shan State, Taunggyi is a breezy town northeast of Inle Lake.
In the Burmese language, it means “great mountain,” and its higher altitude allows for cooler climes and undulating, lush topography. Paying homage to the diverse ethnic population in Shan State, the ethnographic museum of Taunggyi houses life sized displays of ethnic minority tribes in their distinct traditional dress. The annual Taunggyi Balloon Festival draws local and foreign tourist every year. Its origins come from the practice of floating one’s sins and bad deeds away via lanterns. During the day, the balloons form a glorious kaleidoscope of colours and shapes. In the evening, the light show created by the sheer number of balloons outshines the stars. The event has become something of a competition for the biggest, brightest and most elaborate hot air balloons, at times dripping with fireworks or weighed down by candles. The balloons often compete not only for most creative designs but the altitude height they gain. The festival is also known as the Pa-O Festival, and most ethnic minority groups don their most ceremonious dress for the occasion. The atmosphere in the town during the festival is joyous and welcoming.