Inle Lake is a magical watery world of floating gardens, stilted villages and crumbling stupas, and one of Myanmar’s most alluring attractions. Mountains tumble down towards the lakeshore, blurring the distinction between heaven and earth. For many visitors, Inle is heaven on earth, a place to while away the days canoeing, cycling and walking through the lush countryside. The Intha people are famous for their leg rowing.
Every October, during the annual festival the lake is full with thousands of boats carrying devotees bringing flower and fruits as the images make a tour on a golden barge. A traveling market makes a round of the villages completing a circle every five days offering visitors the best chance to see the people of the region. Pa-Oh people live over the mountains and they journey for miles through thick forest to trade their wares or do their shopping. The Intha are also skilled in weaving thin, colorful silks or thick cotton, creating finely wrought silver jewelry and object d’art. They even produce a linen-like fabric woven out of filaments pulled from the lotus stems, the only fabric of its kind in the world.
Above all Inle Lake is a place of peace and tranquility. Lakeside hotels, many of them on stilts in the local style capture the mood perfectly. Slow boat rides at sunset through fields of lotus plants are the most romantic, while those with more energy can go trekking to the villages on the banks of the lake or the monasteries perched high above.
Being the second largest freshwater majestic lake laying on Shan Mountains, Inle is undoubtedly the beauty of Eastern Myanmar’s scenery. The lake has spacious 22 km long with 11 km wide clear greenly water streaming 875 meter about sea level. Inle can be reached a short drive from Heho Airport, the domestic hub of Shan State.
A majority of native Intha called this region as their home, other ethnics are also widely settling around the lake. They merrily live in stilt houses made of wood and woven bamboo, farming and fishing are the bulk for their living. The bizarre style leg rowing “Inn tha”, known to its unique spectacular lifestyle, they are the only people who can utilize their leg for rowing in the world. The scene of fishermen dressed in a traditional Shan attire, deftly grip a single long bamboo oar with one leg while paddling long flat bottomed boats around the lake is the most fascinating experience.
Green floating firms, underwater seaweeds, and a slight moist certainly promise a refreshing psyche to one mind. Home to floating islands, silky apparel, spice up Shan cuisine create absolute satisfying nourishment. Ultimately admiring, relaxing, and chilling environment, Inle offers superb unforgettable experience. The amusing hewn of birds flying over the lake top up a stunned enjoyment throughout the journey.
PHAUNG DAW OO
Deep cultural heritage highlighted, the holiest religious Phaung Daw Oo pagoda is located in Ywana village. Stunning view across the lake to the hills and the significant over 400 wooden columns stairway structure feed memorizing panoramic view of Inle. The main shrine in the main hall accommodates five small Buddha statues covered with excessive gold leaves. The famous pagoda’s festival, floating Buddha parade is held annually almost 3 weeks in October.
The quaint village of Indein can be reached by boat touring over narrow canals of Inle. Famously known for its market and two groups of ancient pagodas, Indein is the home of Pa-Oh, a minority ethnic group belonging to Shan State. This hidden place is located on the western bank connected with the lake about 8km of the southern tip. This remote village hosts the “Inle 5 day market”, which villagers rotating cycle in five villages around the lake. A breathtaking complex of 1,094 ancient stupas from the 16th century, this mysterious land is regarded as “Shan’s Bagan”.
This relatively new, opened in 2003 for tourists, Sagar is located in the southern tip of Inle Lake, this hidden village offers the fantastic spectacular scenery of the region. The journey to the village takes about 3 hours by boat. Along this cracking journey, visitors can experience feeding groups of indigenous water birds, observing the floating vegetations, and perhaps encountering with friendly local villagers.
Colonial favoured, Kalaw sits high on the western edge of the Shan Plateau covering the magnificent pine forest. Located 1,320metre above sea level, this stunning town offers the pleasantly cool and charm weather. Due to its hill nature and chill weather, the town is popular for trekking experience. Once a popular retreat centre during British era, the town remains dozens of English gardens and Tudor-Style houses. Remarkably Indian and Nepalese were being brought by British to build the town, the influence of their root still can be found throughout the town. In fact, it is the perfect place for experiencing the assortment of Western influenced architecture with colourful Eastern customs.
Robust a vast orchard of stupas, this mysterious and fascinating hidden area is opened to foreign visitors. It is located in 40 km south of Taungyi, populated with Pa-O people. Constructed a tri-mixture of Pa-O, Shan and Myanmar, the stupas are covered with ornate stucco motifs.
The striking town for its landscape, Pindaya is located in about 45km from Kalaw, and about 2 hours drive from Heho Airport. This picturesque town is famous for its extensive limestone caves, set deep in the hillsides, where visitors will be amazed to explore the incredible amount of Buddha statues and stalagmites. Famous for its local handicrafts, Shan paper and parasols made from mulberry bark are popular products. For trekking lovers, an extensive trekking trip to nearby villages; Danu, Pa-O, Palaung, and Taung-Yo can experience tea plantation and rural villages along the trip.
The capital of Shan State covering a series of pine hill stations with chilly clime, Taunggyi is the minty break from the heat of plains. Located above 1,000 meter sea level, the weather is simply pleasant cool year around. Being the trading city of state, exploring the crowded markets and authentic semi-modern urban lifestyle of Shan State are worth a visit to the city. The town is popular for morning marketers who speak noticeably local dialects. Visitors can experience the carnival alike famous Balloon Festival which released several animal-shaped balloons in the day of festival, November.
ELEPHANT CAMP – GREEN HILL VALLEY
Located in the gorgeous Shan State, a mystical tapestry of lush jungle landscapes, rushing rivers and intriguing indigenous culture, Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp is one of the country’s prime assets. Elephants have not had it easy in Myanmar, and Green Hill Valley gives the majestic beasts a purpose after their prime years. An awe-inspiring window into the gentle nature of these incredible animals.