Photo: A fisherman during sunrise over Inle Lake.

Floating gardens and fishing villages

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Any Inle Lake visit will include stops at some of the numerous and still largely traditional lakeside villages and their special floating gardens.

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Despite certain brochure descriptions the villages are not actually floating Cambodian style -- the water level variations don’t warrant it -- but are constructed on wooden piles driven into the lake floor. Some of these traditionally teak buildings can be huge -- up to two or three storeys -- and villages such as Nam Pan and Ywama are extensive. In Inn Paw Khone village, entire weaving factories are built on stilts.

A village high street. Photo taken in or around Floating gardens and fishing villages, Inle Lake, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

A village high street. Photo: Mark Ord

Pagodas, schools and markets tend to be built on land reclaimed by piling up lake-floor mud while attractive wooden walkways and bridges often connect different houses or village sections. These make great places to wander if your boatman can find the right place to drop you off, while taking a stroll away from many of the handicraft workshops can work too.

A seriously rickety bridge. Photo taken in or around Floating gardens and fishing villages, Inle Lake, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

A seriously rickety bridge. Photo: Mark Ord

The gardens and villages are typically visited on a day trip from Nyaung Shwe, which will take in the various handicraft villages as well. Standard day hire for one of the Lake’s motor-powered longtail boats is 18,000-25,000 kyat from dawn to dusk. You can book directly with a boatman at one of the jetties, though you’ll encounter plenty of touts in Nyaung Shwe’s streets. Pilots – most of whom will speak at least minimal English - may offer discounts during quiet periods while if you book with your hotel reception it can include a small commission, but there’s more incentive for reliability.

Weaving in and out of the village streets by boat is delightful. The workshops do give you a chance to take a break, letting you stretch your legs, use the facilities and grab a drink. Part of the charm is discovering local life as you putt putt down a back course, but please respect villagers’ privacy. Photographing locals showering or cleaning their teeth is intrusive and ... Travelfish members only (Around 800 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Inle Lake? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Burma_myanmar.

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