Inle Lake is a shallow lake in the middle of Myanmar, south-east of Mandalay. The lake is 22km long, and is densely inhabited by many different tribes. In the unique watery world of Inle Lake, Intha fisherman row canoes with one leg, gardens float, and wooden homes perch above the water on rickety stilts. Take some time to explore one of Myanmar's most iconic destinations with an early-morning cruise, a cycle through the countryside, or sojourns into the surrounding hills and villages.
Getting out onto the water is naturally the most popular way to experience Inle Lake. Every morning a flotilla of slender wooden canoes fitted with long-tailed outboard motors surges forth, transporting visitors to various natural, cultural, religious and historic sites. Nyaungshwe, on the northern edge of the lake, is the base for setting out on motorboat trips – every hotel and guesthouse in town can help arrange one, or just wait for a boat captain to approach you in the street.
Trips can be tailored, but tours typically include visits to the famous sights in the northern part of the lake, such as Phaung Daw Oo Paya in Tha Ley, the Nga Hpe Kyaung (Jumping Cat Monastery) in Nga Phe village, and the floating gardens. Make sure to spend time observing the Intha fishermen (most photogenic at dawn) and their unique technique of rowing the boat with one leg while using both hands to fish. Other destinations further afield include villages Thaung Thut, Hmaw Be, and Samkar, and you can also include a visit to Inthein, where crumbing, hilltop pagodas look down on the water.