Exploring Places XLII: Inle Lake, Myanmar

Today we are travelling very far to Inle Lake, Myanmar thanks to postcard 27.

Fishermen in Inle Lake. Deposit photos
And Yago (1º BAC) has done some research on this paradise.

Inle Lake is a freshwater lake located in the Nyaungshwe Township of Taunggyi District of Shan State, part of Shan Hills in Myanmar (Burma).

Location of Myanmar. Wikipedia
It is the second largest lake in Myanmar with an estimated surface area of 44.9 square miles (116 km2), and one of the highest at an elevation of 2,900 feet (880 m). During the dry season, the average water depth is 7 feet (2.1 m), with the deepest point being 12 feet (3.7 m), but during the rainy season this can increase by 5 feet (1.5 m).

...being home to over twenty species of snails and nine species of fish found nowhere else in the world.

Sawbwa resplendens. Wikimedia commons
...becoming the Myanmar's first designated place of World Network of Biosphere Reserves. It was one of 20 places added at the Unesco's 27th Man and the Biosphere (MAB) International Coordinating Council (ICC) meeting.

Global New Light of Myanmar
...for its weaving industry

Acheik htamains. Wikimedia commons
...for its floating villages, gardens and markets and the unique way of life of the local Intha people, with their functioning communities based entirely on the water.

Floating Gardens. Myanmar. Terragaleria.com


Nampan Village and Floating Gardens

The village of Nampan is an excellent example of a traditional Inle Lake village, with its wooden houses all built on stilts. In the village you will find hand-made cheroot (traditional local cigar) factories and the oldest pagoda on the lake, the Alodaw Pauk Pagoda, a large gem-encrusted golden shrine. There are also several good, affordable restaurants here.

Floating Garden. Wikimedia Commons
Just to the north of the village, you will find floating gardens where the Intha people grow a variety of vegetables and flowers, both for their own consumption and to export around the country. This method of agriculture is another unique aspect of life on the lake, as the villagers harness nature to develop these gardens over many generations.

Maing Thauk

Maing Thauk. Tripadvisor.com
Located on the eastern shore of Inle Lake, half of Maing Thauk village is on the lake and half is on land, with the two parts linked by a long wooden bridge. Here you will find a bustling market and, further up the side of the mountain, the Maing Thauk Forest Monastery, from where you can see lovely views over lake. Maing Thauk can be reached either as part of a boat tour or by bicycle from Nyaung Shwe.

Ywama Village

Ywama Village. Wikimedia Commons
Ywama is another good example of a traditional Inle Lake settlement, and is most famous for its floating market. It also has various handicraft workshops, a monastery and a pagoda. Beautiful as it is, this village has become a focal point of tourism on Inle Lake, and can sometimes get very crowded – if you want to avoid the crowds, get there early in the morning. There are a number of excellent restaurants to be found on the canal to Ywama village, serving traditional Shan food, as well as other Chinese and Myanmar dishes.


Indein. Wikimedia Commons
The village of Indein (also spelt Inn Thein, and meaning ‘shallow lake’) is most famous for its crumbling and atmospheric groups of ancient pagodas, some of which are now being restored. These include Nyaung Oak, immediately behind the village, with its carvings of mythical creatures, and Shwe Inn Thein Paya, which can be found at the top of a covered stairway leading up the hill; this features many hundreds of densely packed stupas to be explored – both ruined and restored. From Shwe Inthein Paya you can also see some wonderful views across the lake. Inthein village also has a vibrant market.

Nga Hpe Kyaung Monastery, Inthar Heritage House and Cats!

Jumping Cat Monastery. Inlake Tourism
Nga Hpe Kyaung monastery, located on the lake, is constructed from wood and features a beautiful meditation hall. It was famous for its jumping cats; the local monks trained them to jump through hoops. This practice has now stopped, however – due to the cats becoming arthritic and/or because they thought it was an unfair practice. The monks were always honest enough to say it was only done for the tourists!
But cat lovers are well catered for on Inle Lake; the Inthar Heritage House, a beautiful structure located in the middle of the lake and built from reclaimed wood, is a restaurant, art gallery and cat sanctuary. The Burmese Cat preservation project has carried out a breeding program to reintroduce these elegant felines to Myanmar.

The Phaung Daw U Pagoda

Phaung Daw U Pagoda. Wikimedia Commons
This pagoda is one of the holiest sites in Shan State, and is visited by Buddhist worshippers from all around Myanmar. The shrine itself is huge and features five ancient golden Buddhas, and next to it can be found a large golden barge, a replica of the one said to have been used by King Alaung Sithu to travel around the country.

Phaung Daw U Pagoda Buddhas. Wikimedia Commons
The Phaung Daw U Pagoda festival takes place in October and features the passage of four revered Buddha images around the villages of Inle Lake on the barge, taking 18 days to complete their journey. There are also rowing competitions between the villages, using the renowned local leg rowing style.

If you want to find out more about Inle Lake in Myanmar, watch the video below. It’s inspiring!



  1. Wonderful post and beautiful pictures! It makes feel like going there in the near future...

  2. Me too, this lake is a natural paradise!

  3. It is so nice to read and see the pictures of Myanmar: it makes me feel nostalgic about the time I travelled there, specially about Lake Inle (I recognize the Phaung Daw Pagoda and the jumping cat monastery!)!Greetings, Laeti