Inle Lake

Thanks to its cooler climate and picturesque setting in the lap of the Shan Hills, Inle Lake these days attracts serious numbers of visitors during the winter tourist season. Its glassy waters are cradled by verdant hills on the placid, western rim of the Shan Plateau. It is a beautiful highland lake, 900 meters above sea level. The lake is 22km long and 10km across, and inhabited by many different ethnic nationals of the area.  In between leisurely sojourns gazing from their hotel verandahs across the water, travelers while away days taking boat trips to ruined stupas, hot springs and the stilted villages of the local Inthar people. The Inthar are responsible for Inle’s defining image- that of the local “leg-rowing” fishermen, who propel themselves across the lake’s surface by wrapping one leg around oars fixed to the stern of flat-bottomed canoes.

Surplus produce is taken by boat to the local markets, hosted in a five-day rotation by the settlements that ring the lake. These also provide a popular daytrip destination for visitors, attracting minority people dressed in their finest traditional garb, and are a great source of authentic souvenirs, such as locally handwoven Shan shoulder bags and longyis made from lotus silk. Every tour group in the region comes here once every five days for the village’s famous “floating market”, which started out as a purely authentic local veg bazaar but has been overwhelmed in recent seasons. A regular sight on the lake is local men using long conical traps, which are used to catch Inle’s meter-long carp, giant catfish and eels. Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, with anuual festival in every October which is one of the most dazzling and magical places in Asia, is also situated in Inlay Lake in Shan State.