What is Lake Inle?
Inle Lake is an attractive, tranquil (when longtail boats are not buzzing by) freshwater lake in Burma’s Shan Hills, awash with interesting characters, such as leg-rowing fishermen and ethnic tribes trawling the markets, as well as floating tomato fields and cats jumping through hoops, but not much in the way of ancient pagodas, though a side trip to Kakku will provide a stupendous overdose of stupas if required.
An Inle village, photo by Christopher Michel.
Generally via noisy long-tail boats (like in Thailand) but you must cruise around the lake, especially before sunset. If you don’t state otherwise your skipper will drop in on various workshops where you may feel obliged to buy something (and skip gets a nice commission).
Places worth visiting on the lake
Lake Inle’s famous floating vegetable fields.
***5 Day Market at Nampan or Phanug Daw U Paya. Locals, including traditionally dressed tribal people, come here by boat to sell and buy.
**Hpaung (also Phaung) Daw U Pagoda, the holiest pagoda in the Shan state, with 5 small Buddha images so totally covered by daily gold-leaf offerings that they have become shapeless gold blobs.
**Nga Phe Kyaung (Jumping Cat Monastery). Popular with tour groups who go to see monk’s pets jumping though hoops, but it also has quite a collection of old Burma Buddha images from different areas.