Fishermen who maneuver their boat by only one leg, beautiful floating gardens and houses on stilts, tranquil villages with ethnic minorities, it’s a small part of the Inle Lake’s magnificent universe. Traveling to Inle Lake will leave you with a lasting impression. These are 5 reasons you shouldn’t miss Inle Lake on your vacation in Myanmar.
1. Life on the lake
Life on the shallow, 13.5-mile freshwater lake is utterly enchanting. No busy like Yangon, no noisy like Mandalay, and hot and dusty like Bagan, Inle Lake is far different from any other place you could visit on your Myanmar vacation. With no roads or sidewalks, visitors and locals alike get around in one-person-wide wooden boats outboard propellers which emit a noisy whine when at full throttle and can be raised and lowered depending on water levels of the lake. The villages full of charming single and two-story wooden stilt houses are situated on active waterways. Fishermen working on the lake use a unique rowing technique you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Tomato farming with the hydroponic method is also large-sized here, based on an aqua biotic system in use since the 1960s. Cruising along channels surrounded by floating gardens is simply amazing.
2. Over-the-water hotels and restaurants
You can find a lot of airy over-the-water bungalows on Inle Lake in your Myanmar travel. Even if you don’t stay in one of these memorable hotels, enjoying delicious dishes at their restaurants is a must. Tea is used as a type of drinks all over the world, but only on your vacation in Myanmar, you will realize that it can be processed into a mouth-watering course: the spicy tea leaf salad. Hospitable students from all over Shan state come to intern at Heritage House, a really beautiful colonial-styled house doing triple duty as a hotel, restaurant, and cat sanctuary. On the lake is also Golden Island Cottages run Pa-O, an important local minority group. Its thatched-roof terrace restaurant offers stunning views of both lake and sky. Besides, you can attend cooking classes or make a visit to the organic vegetable garden.
3. Stupas galore
Bagan isn’t the only place to your Myanmar vacation where you can see astounding stupas. The ruins of stone pagodas over 1,000 years old are crammed together on an overgrown hillside behind a small Inle Lake restaurant. Recently revealed from the jungle, they show an astonishing sight: small, delicate, and closely knit. They’re much more intimate than those at Bagan and very easily explored through a walking tour.
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4. Unusual monasteries
Among 200 monasteries dotting the lake, the unusual Nga Hpe Kyaung is the most famous and may be one of the strangest places you would visit on your vacation in Myanmar. It’s more commonly known as Jumping Cat monastery where the dozens of resident cats are trained to “jump” through hoops by monks in their free time. The cats don’t do much jumping on command anymore; they do walk the rafters, stretch out on the floor and wander about at will—as cats like to do. The monastery dating back in 1890 is a splendid wooden stilt structure. Besides smart cats, it also houses an impressive collection of ornate buddhas, which were originally owned by area residents. During World War II, they took the Buddhas to the monastery and never got back.
5. Hand-woven textiles
Inle Lake has been a major Myanmar weaving center for over a century and its chief artisans live in Inn Paw Khon Village. As you come into dock, you’ll hear the looms clicking away through open-air windows. Everything, from the dyes to the finished scarves and longyi skirts (Burmese traditional costume) is made here by hand, by women at all of the ages who are alleged to be more precise than men). There’s no retiring age: the eldest women approve dying techniques and designs. Their taste and experience are still invaluable, even as their eyesight is no longer good. While woven textiles can be found throughout Southeast Asia, it’s only Myanmar that makes lotus fabric, and Inle Lake is ground zero for it, as its shallow waters create ideal growing conditions for planting lotus. Do not forget to buy lotus fabric, the most authentic, made-in-Myanmar souvenir, on your Burma tours directly from the source here.
Quiet and vast, the Inle Lake seems to be out of all the noises and chaos of modern life. Do not miss the wonderful destination on your Myanmar vacation.