Things You Might Not Know About Inle Lake
Did you know that Inle lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar? It has an estimated surface area of 44.9 square miles and an elevation of 2,900 feet. The freshwater lake is located in Nyaungshwe valley and is settled between the two mountain ranges that extend from north to south. Inle is home to about 70,000 Intha people, local residents of Inle who are known to be hardworking folks. There are 17 villages on the lake's shores and islands on the lake possessing different traditions and cultures which are unique in their own way. Most Intha people are Buddhists and are highly self-sufficient. The locals depend on the lake for their livelihood. Most itineraries for a trip to Myanmar used to be Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan in former times. But over the past few years, Inle has been enhancing tourist attractions because of its uncommon custom of one-legged rowing, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, floating gardens, floating markets and villages, and local fishermen and captivating water-based lifestyle. The main attractions of Inle Lake can be seen on a boat tour. Moreover, Inle lake became the first natural area in Myanmar to be declared a UNESCO Biosphere reserve in 2015.
How to Get around Inle Lake?
Boats are the easiest and the best way to transport around Inle Lake. Most boat tour start from Nyaungshwe township, southern Shan State. However if you live in one of the hotels in Inle lake, the hotel may take water taxi or boat trip. For bike tour, there are many places in Nyaungshwe that offer bikes to hire.
How many days to stay in Inle Lake?
Inle Lake offers so many attractions and local villages to enjoy that we recommend staying three days at the lake and preferably longer. We would love to recommend staying there for a few more days for the special atmosphere, scenery and the lovely friendly locals.
Attractions of Inle Lake
Unlike urban cities having shopping malls, supermarkets, and sky-scraping buildings, Inle lake, a rural town, is renowned for its floating markets, villages, wildlife sanctuary and subsistence lifestyle of the Intha people. Their villages, which are made of wooden houses based on slits, are one of the trademarks of Inle. Furthermore, a distinctive style of one-legged rowing by fishermen is not to be left out. Standing on one leg, attached the other leg to an oar, which they paddle in the waters and propel the boat forwards. Fishermen on the edge of a boat, set out at sunset for night's fishing, is definitely an art of the lake that has garnered the interest of tourists.
How Intha People Make Their Living
Fishing, farming, weaving, selling vegetables, making silverware and handicrafts are some of the businesses that Intha people would depend on. Besides one-legged rowing, it is astonishing to watch how the locals are experts at driving boats whether it is a motor-powered variety or traditional canoes. Renting a boat around the lake is a must to explore Inle traditions and culture. The prices are more than affordable and the local guides are also warm and friendly. Moreover, it is marvelous to see how the boat divers navigate water channels although there are boat-to-boat traffic jams occasionally. Another fascinating thing you might find is farming on the water. Clumps of water hyacinth and seagrass are gathered and secured in place with large bamboo poles to make gardens float on water. The water is also rich in nutritional contents so fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, squash, string bean and eggplants are grown. Those are sold on floating markets or land-based markets on the shore. There is no doubt that floating markets are the most vibrant and lively ones you will ever find on the water. The biggest floating market is held in Yuma village. Local peasants' boats are moored here to sell vegetables, regional items and even souvenirs to locals as well as tourists. The five-day market which is held in turn among five villages over a five-day period is somehow innovative and is one of the must-see attractions at Inle lake region.
Food You Should Try Out at Inle Lake
Restaurants in Inle offer diverse kinds of food ranging from affordable prices to high-end fine dining. You can go Shan food tour around the Lake. Not only local food of Shan and Intha dishes but also Asian and Western-style cuisines are served for travelers who want to try out both. The most common delicacies sold here is ''Shan-noodles'' which is the traditional food of Shan locals. '' Shan Htamin-chin,'' a signature dish of Intha people, is also a must-try one when you visit Shan state. Additionally, one can enjoy braised chicken with mint and green pepper served with rice, various fish dishes, curries, stir-fry vegetables and so on. What partially makes dining at floating-restaurants pleasant is one can overlook picturesque views of floating villages, splendid scenes of Intha people bustling on water and travelers mingling with the vendors. The city has an amazing array of street food vendors and local restaurants here.
Shop at the Five Day Market
The surrounding are of the lake is well known for its Five Day market. The market is located at Indein village. This local market is named because each place has five days to run on. It is a very good place for a visitor because it is known for bringing local handcrafts to you.
Souvenirs to Bring back from Inle Lake
Purchasing souvenirs and traditional handicrafts here is somewhat remarkable and memorable to remember your trip. Inle is notable for its weaving culture. You may have heard about weaving cotton and silk but lotus weaving might be new to you. Since lotus plants grow in abundance, Intha people use them to make textiles. They produce longyis, traditional Burmese clothing, scarfs or even blouses from weaving. In-Phaw-Kone which is situated West of Nampan village is endowed with weaving workshops and is the best place to look around and purchase lotus-silk shawls. You will get to observe how both young and elderly weavers are skillful at operating ''loom'', an apparatus used to weave textiles. Another appealing activity you might find is rolling cheroots. Making hand-rolled cigars has been one of the longest cultural habits of Myanmar. The cigars are produced in various sizes, shapes, ingredients and flavorings. Different flavors and crushed tobacco are thoroughly mixed and then rolled in thanat-phet tree leaves. In addition to it, visiting a silverware workshop is not to be missed out. This activity is always included in Inle boat trips. You will see how the craftsmen are skilled at making jewelry or any other silver or golden object from simple to intricate designs. These handicrafts are sold at fair prices and you will not regret buying some because of their high quality. It is guaranteed that those souvenirs will make you reminisce about your trip once you go back.