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7 Must-try Activities on Myanmar's Floating Villages

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Heading for the northwest Myanmar, you’ll find the home to floating villages scattering in the Inle Lake, which offers numerous must-try activities in the harmony of water life and mountainous area.

Inle Lake is not only a natural ecosystem but also a residence for mostly Intha Tribe on wonderful floating villages where the daily life is relatively isolated from the hustling outside. If you’re on trip to these villages, don’t miss out 7 mesmerizing experiences to be engaged in the nature and tranquility.

1. Take a boat ride around waterways

Inle Lake is known for wooden houses built on stilts scattering on floating villages. All of landscapes here bring you the laid-back moments with floating gardens, wooden boats without motors, temples and tribal villages on the riverside, some workshops and other more.

Cruising around the waterways, you’ll be impressed by the iconic image of the long boats where male fishermen balance on one leg and use another leg to paddle. From the Western eyes, you’ll wonder how they can use the net by that skilled fishing technique; this must be the most beautifully and practically traditional custom in the Inle Lake. The boat trip will be fascinating if you wake up before the breaking dawn or after dusk to catch the breathtaking moments over the light sun shining on the lake.

Fishermen on bamboo boats to catch fish in traditional methods

2. Visit floating farms and gardens

In Kay Lar Ywa village, you’ll see plenty of floating gardens where the locals take fresh ingredients to feed themselves. Over the years, the villagers earn their living by cultivating and fishing in the water area then selling their products for trade.

The farming method here is considered as the most unique in the world. According to the farmers, they take advantages of the tranquil water to make pistia-and-seeweed floats for planting. Whenever you want to learn about the local lifestyles and traditions, just take a visit the floating farms.

Unique floating gardens in Inle Lake

3. Wander around Inle Lake markets

On market days, there are bunch of markets offering multitude sections of meat and fish, fruits and veggies, locally grown tobacco and lake made cigars, etc. and souvenir vendors on small boats full of handicrafts and produces. On non-market days, there’re only souvenir vendors and tourist boats in Ywama. The other sellers have moved to nearby markets in the region like Kaung Daing, Maing, Thauk, Nam Pan. The rural markets remind tourists of the distinctive Southeast Asia’s images like wooden or bamboo stalls and cast-iron pots.

Fruits section at Inle Lake market

4. Chat to long-necked Karen people

The Karen village is extremely odd because of the defunct traditional of stretching the necks of the local women. The necklaces may weigh up to dozens of kilograms, which become the most stunningly weird among the region. These women rarely go out of the village and just sit making weaving scarves and fabrics. You can see how colorful clothes, scarves, purses and other perfect handicraft souvenirs are made by the craftswomen.

The long-necked Karen women weaving fabrics

5. Pay worship to the temples

Inle Lake is home to many relic temples and pagodas that are ideal places for children to gather for relaxing and showing gratitude to their parents. These temples also open to tourists for visiting and shopping some sacred souvenirs at the entrance.

The most well-known and largest site is Phaungdaw Oo Pagoda on a small island in the southern town. There is a typical Phaungdaw Oo festival occurring within 3 weeks around the last of September. Tourists will have a chance to witness the procession of Buddha statues around the villages and the boat racing on the lake.

Intha people on annual Buddhist Phaung Daw U Festival

The second best temple must be Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery decorated in red teak structure and large oval windows standing on stilts. The interior is covered with carved wooden bas-reliefs with colorful glass mosaics and golden paint. Regarding its unique features, tourist shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit this elegant monastery.

Shwe Yan Pyay Temple with distinctive oval windows

The last must-visit temple is the oldest monastery of Nga Phe Kyaung among floating gardens. Existing for at least 200 years, Nga Phe Kyaung is famous for the cats that have been trained to jump over small hoops. Before the pass away of the head monk and the trained cats, there was the cat jumping shows held many times a day. However, tourists can still see cats jumping scenes occasionally while coming to the monastery.

Nga Phe Kyaung, the Jumping Cats Monastery

6. Play with the only Burmese cats in Myanmar

The Burmese Cat Village is located in the Inthar Heritage House, where is home to these pure Burmese creatures with a view to bringing them back to their homeland. The cats, mostly in black and chocolate or coppery brown, have been preserved for a long time.

Burmese Cat Village project

If you’re a cat person, don’t forget this place to meet and play with these adorable animals; but avoid visiting from 11am to 2pm, the cat nap time. Living in small wooden houses, these cats are well fed and get used to human interaction, so you can feel free to have some cuddling with them.

7. Take a bike tour in Nyaung Shwe village

Addition to boat visiting, tourists can rent a bike to explore the beautiful countryside, scenic lakeside villages and welcoming local people. You can enjoy a local café or restaurant on Yone Gyi Street, but the street is quite touristy with heavy traffic.

Tourist with rental bicycle in Nyaung Shwe Town

Not only beholding the landscapes, tourist can also join cooking classes in Myo Myo Cooking School and learn how to make authentic Burmese dishes like Shan soup, which is made extra special by Shan noodles with dark colored broth and robust flavor.

Beyond the iconic floating villages of Myanmar on the internet, you’ll be rewarded with both ‘floating and on-land experiences’ from dawn til dusk in Inle Lake. Come and join a journey to mystery Myanmar.

Hong Nhung

(Image Sources: Internet)

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