Welcome to beautiful Inle Lake, home of the Intha people who spend their whole lives farming, fishing and living on the water. Hop in a longboat to explore their stilted villages, floating gardens, pagodas and ethnic minority markets.
Pictures just don’t do Inle Lake justice. The lake is vast, 116 sq km (45 sq mi) of watery serenity ringed by lush mountains and dotted with golden pagodas breaking the surface. Life happens entirely on the water here, whole communities live in stilt houses, shop at floating markets and farm huge floating gardens. Everyone owns a boat of some sort to get to arable rice paddies on the river’s delta or drop the children off at school.
The lake dwellers are the Intha people, literally ‘children of the lake’. National Geographic made their acrobatic fishing style famous, balancing on one leg at the prow of their longboats, kicking out conical nets. Sadly, fish numbers have declined at Inle Lake, so you’re unlikely to stumble across such a scene au naturel, although fisherman do pose for tips.
We love exploring Inle by kayak with only the sound of your paddle splashing. Follow the narrow waterways between houses, weaving workshops and gardens to markets where ethnic minority groups trade fresh produce. Don’t fancy putting in the arm work? Don’t worry, you can take a longboat instead.