Photo: A typical Inle Lake market scene.

Five-day markets

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One of Inle Lake's most popular and picturesque sights is its famous five-day market, so-called as it migrates from one rustic lakeside village to another on a five-day rota system. Local Shan and Intha people, as well as numerous Pa-O villagers from the surrounding hills, converge to sell their wares and produce. These days, numerous tourists converge to photograph them converging, while stocking up on a few handicraft souvenirs.

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Which market takes place which day is more than a little complicated, since market days don't correspond to days of the week or even particular dates. It does mean that you'll be able to take in a market day somewhere around the lake, even if you don't know in advance which one.

The car park, more or less, at Thaung To Market. Photo taken in or around Five-day markets, Inle Lake, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

The car park, more or less, at Thaung To Market. Photo: Mark Ord

Locals unerringly seem to know the market schedule by heart, so any hotel receptionist or boatman should be able to tell you what's happening where. The market calendar is lunar, and full moon and black moon days have no markets at all; days before said moons will then have two markets. Just ask when you get there!

We have come across at least eight lakeside markets sharing the rota, so there seem to be some rogue markets and additional villages jumping in on what is increasingly a tourist bandwagon. Also, if on a certain day the market is taking place at the extreme southern tip of the lake, then one of the villages to the north may set up an alternative one.

The lakeside setting of Nam Phan. Photo taken in or around Five-day markets, Inle Lake, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

The lakeside setting of Nam Phan. Photo: Mark Ord

In Dein market is one of the largest and most popular, since it can be combined with the spectacular, neighbouring ruined pagodas. During high season you need to get here early or there'll be as many tourists as vendors; a fair chunk of the stalls are given over to souvenirs at the best of times. There's not much of a village as such -- it's just a collection of tea shops and a recent pagoda -- and most vendors are Pa-O from the hills behind. What looked suspiciously like a new bamboo market was under construction on the south bank of the river during our ... Travelfish members only (Around 800 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Popular attractions in Inle Lake

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Inle Lake.

Best places to stay in Inle Lake

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Inle Lake.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Inle Lake.
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 Read up on where to eat on Inle Lake.
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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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