INLE LAKE – The land of the Intha tribe

Inle Lake, located strategically in the heart of Myanmar’s Shan State, is a shore-less expanse of water and marshes 20km long and 10km wide, sitting like a gigantic puddle on a carpet of greenery with reed and hyacinth beds that get denser as they are nearer the shore.

Once a sleeping village, home until the 1960s of the last Shan shy lord, Nyaungshwe, located at the north end of the lake and next to the main channel leading to the lake, is now a bustling center for travelers with guest houses, restaurants and tour agencies. Entering the Inle Lake area costs to tourists a 5$ government fee, which we pay at the entrance of Nyaungshwe.

Despite being a tourist town, Nyaungshwe is still the main trading hub for the local villages, and the departure point of crafts and produce from the lake towards the rest of the country. Motorized long boats transport visitors to tribal stilt-house villages, floating farms and gardens, pagodas, and floating silk and craft workshops. In fact, most buildings on the lake are built with stilts on water, and activities are carried out in small rowing boats and long boats that skitter along channels carrying people and goods.

Tribal people Intha, Shan, Pa-O, Taung Yo, Danu, Kayah and Danaw populate the villages around the lake shore, and local markets where they congregate are open in turn five days a week. There is a nice atmosphere in town, with tourists mixing effortlessly with locals.

Intha fishermen get around the waters using a traditional and unique flat-bottom skiff propelled by a single wooden paddle rowed in snake-like motions by a leg wrapped around the paddle. This technique has become the ultimate photo opportunity of the Inle Lake.

Other attractions in the area include the numerous temples that host young monks both boys and girls – most famous and visited of them all the Phang Dew Oo Paya Temple -, hot springs reached by a nice bicycle ride along dust roads flanked by water beds, buffaloes grazing and peaceful locals working the land, and a colourful local market selling food and crafts.

Inle Lake is indeed a must-see destination of your trip to Myanmar!

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About the author

Thomas has a university background in the UK and in Latin America, with studies in Languages and Humanities, Culture, Literature and Economics. He started his Asian experience as a publisher in Krabi in 2005. Thomas has been editing local newspapers and magazines in England, Spain and Thailand for more then fifteen years. He is currently working on several projects in Thailand and abroad. Apart from Thailand, Thomas has lived in Italy, England, Venezuela, Cuba, Spain and Bali. He spends most of his time in Asia. During the years Thomas has developed a great understanding of several Asian cultures and people. He is also working freelance, writing short travel stories and articles for travel magazines. Follow Thomas on

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