Take a boat trip to experience life on Inle Lake: leg-rowing fishermen, floating gardens, houses on stilts and markets.
Inle Lake was my favourite - calm peaceful and great experiences seeing the amazing fishermen, local craft workshops and the market.
Inle Lake is the second-largest in Myanmar (Burma) and is home to many thousands of people who rely on it for their living. Spending time here provides a fascinating insight into life on and by the lake as people go about their daily tasks. It can also be a refreshing break from busier locations offering a chance to relax, with opportunities to explore nearby areas on foot and by bike.
- People of the lake: Almost 100,000 Intha people live in towns and villages around this freshwater lake. Adaptations to lake living include houses built on stilts above the water’s edge, growing vegetables in the mineral-rich lake water and standing up to row using one leg wrapped round the oar so as to see above the reeds. Cottage industries play a vital role, too, and you can see weavers and silversmiths in village workshops.
- Boat is best: The best way to experience the different facets of the experience of Inle Lake is by boat, joining locals as they go fishing, tend to the watery farms, go to market or the temple and visit friends in other villages. The lake is the main highway, with busy water channels requiring skilful navigation and handling, which the Intha constantly demonstrate. A trip to the floating market is fun as you watch the lively interaction between buyers and sellers, an integral part of life on the lake.
- Ancient pagodas: An 8km boat ride from Inle Lake brings you to Indein village where you alight and walk through a bamboo grove to see over 1,000 pagodas some of which may date back 1,000 years and others built in the 17th and 18th centuries. They vary in size and shape, some have been restored and others left to nature, and are arranged around a hill topped with whitewashed stupa containing the Thein Buddha image. Take your time to walk round the complex before boarding the boat back to Inle Lake.
- Bikes & hikes: Leaving the water behind you can explore the surrounding countryside on foot and by bike, walking or pedalling between villages and passing cultivated fields. You might like to cycle the 8kms to Red Mountain Winery, one of a handful of vineyards in Myanmar, where you can sample the produce and enjoy panoramic views.