Photo: Zooming across Inle Lake.


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Serene and scenic Inle Lake lies nestled among the rugged mountains of southwestern Shan State and is dotted with picturesque stilt villages and floating gardens. Lakeside markets see ethnic minority hilltribespeople descend from the mountains with their ox-carts, while traditional handicraft workshops and gilded pagodas make for stopping-off points on a journey around this magical watery world.

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Out of Burma’s so-called Big Four tourist destinations – the others being Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan – our favourite is probably Inle Lake. As much as we love the lot, hectic Yangon can overwhelm; traffic-clogged Mandalay can underwhelm and Bagan can on a bad day invite unflattering comparisons with Angkor. But Inle Lake? Satisfaction is guaranteed.

No shortage of stunning scenes. Photo taken in or around Inle Lake, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

No shortage of stunning scenes. Photo: Mark Ord

The shallow lake, around 22 kilometres long and six kilometres wide, is mostly bordered by marshlands. With lake villages creating floating gardens, as well as reclaiming land for building, it can be tricky to see where dry land and water meet. In theory at least the surrounded marshes have been designated as the Inle Wetland Bird Sanctuary; UNESCO added it to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2015. Inle has a high density of villages with some on the lake shores, others on stilts over the lake itself and some a bit of both; none are actually ‘floating’, Tonle Sap-style, as some descriptions would lead you to believe.

Inle Lake is usually visited from the nearby town of Nyaung Shwe, four kilometres up the main channel (Nan Chaung) from the lake’s northern tip. The small town now forms the tourism epicentre of Inle and is home to the majority of accommodation and ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,500 words.)

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