Journey to the Unknown
Inle Lake — solitude near the city
Located in the Shan Hills, Inle Lake is the second largest lake in Myanmar with an estimated surface area of 116 km2. It is also one of the highest at an altitude of 880 metres. Just a short distance from Yangon, in the cool green highlands of the Shan State, and yet seemingly worlds apart from the former capital, the lake is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
One of its many outstanding features is the floating market gardens where flowers and vegetables are grown on water. It is also home to 29 animal and fish species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
An estimated 125,000 people live in four cities bordering the lake; in numerous small villages along the lake’s shores; and on floating islands. The thriving community of people with varied ethnic backgrounds of Intha, Shan, Taungthu, Taungyo, Pa-O, Danu, Kayah, Danaw and Burmese support themselves by fishing, farming, silk weaving, metalworking and noodle-making.
The best time to visit is between September and October when many traditional festivals are celebrated. One of the most famous is the Phaung Daw U Pagoda festival, held on the eve of the Full Moon Day in October. The pagoda’s most revered Buddha images are displayed on a replica of the ancient Royal Barge and taken to several villages around the lake for 18 days.
This is closely followed by the Thadingyut festival of lights when Inthas (people of the lake) and Shan people turn out in their ethnic costumes in large numbers to celebrate the Buddhist Lent. The beauty of the sunrise is a special attraction at this idyllic lake and this is enhanced by the perfect backdrop of the Shan Mountains.