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Inle Lake: Quite unlike any place you know


Fishermen in Inle Lake, Myanmar

It was the images of the Intha fishermen who paddle with one leg that really got me excited about going to Myanmar.

When we decided to go to this far away place, what first drew me in was the chance to take an 8 day trip up the Ayeyarwady River on a Belmond river boat Orcaella. I love being on boats and think exploring a country by water is a great way to travel.

But when I discussed the plans with Heather, the travel specialist with Belmond, she suggested adding Inle Lake to the itinerary saying that it is a really special part of the world. Naturally I did a little research, coming across images like the ones I took and  posted on this blog.





Pictures of the fishermen are used to “sell” Myanmar all over the world. They sure sold me. Understandably so. Their grace and agility in handling their boats keeping their hands free was quite something.I’m still marveling over those fishermen.

They stand on one leg on the gunnels of the long boats and paddle with the other leg in a graceful aquatic ballet that you really have to see to believe.

Inle Lake is the Shan State, a rolling hill country which is one of most idyllic corners of Burma. The shallow lake stretches for 11 miles.




It is home to 150,00 people, who cluster around the shore or live in the floating villages. The only one way to get to the villages is on long narrow boats.







We traveled around for a couple of days, visiting the villages, a cat sanctuary, an old wooden monastery and a glittering Golden Temple—all by boat. We visited historic stupas built more than a thousand years ago.  Seeing people washing clothes or water buffalos in the river was not unusual.



Indein Ruins, Inle Lake, Myanmar



The floating gardens are equally fascinating. The gardens are a hydroponic system of cultivating vegetables on floating beds of silt and cut weeks providing abundant vegetables.


The floating gardens in Inle Lake.


The floating gardens are tacked to the lake bottom with bamboo poles. They can be moved. We saw villagers gathering mud and seaweed for fertilizing and enlarging the gardens from the lake.

We were fascinated with the exotic Padaung women who wear brass coils around their necks. They start wearing them when they are about five as a symbol of pride in their culture.

Here are some more scenes from this remote and beautiful part of the world. It is truly a place described by Rudyard Kipling as
“………like no other place you know.”









The post office in Inle Lake.


Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Mar 8, 2016 Reply

    Hi Susan, I’m fascinated by your photos…when and if I get to Myanmar, I’m putting Inle Lake on the list of “must do’s”!!

  2. posted by
    Isolated Destinations Bhutan and Burma | DesignDestinations
    Apr 27, 2016 Reply

    […] fascinating to me was Inle Lake. Click here for a blog post about that remote and isolated part of the world. I’ve done […]

  3. posted by
    Chicago’s Riverwalk–Chicago’s Second Waterfront | DesignDestinations
    May 29, 2017 Reply

    […] I was intrigued to see floating gardens. While not planted when I was there, they will be filled with vegetation soon. This brought to my mind an interesting comparison to the Floating Gardens of Inle Lake. If you have’t heard of these gardens in Myanmar, here’s a blog post to read about them. INLE LAKE: Quite unlike anyplace you’ve ever seen.  […]

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