Inle Lake in Shan State is Myanmar’s second largest inland lake. It measures about 22 km long (North-South) and 11 km wide (East-West). An estimated 100,000 Inthas live on and around Inle Lake. The Inthas speak a dialect of Burmese language. The origin of Inthas is obscured. However, according to a popular Myanmar historical account, they were originally from Tanintharyi (Tenasserim) region from Southern tip of Myanmar. Around 800 years ago, they served in the army of Burmese Kings. On their military excursion, they arrived to Inle Lake region. Once they saw the Lake, it reminds them of their homeland. They asked permission from the King to stay around the lake. This was granted by the king, and thus, these soldiers stayed here and became Inthas.
Inthas have a unique way of living. Their way of life is well adapted to the environment of Inle Lake. They build their houses on the lake, live on the lake, and survive off the lake. They row boats using their foot when go out fishing, thus freeing their hands to hold fishing net. They develop extensive network of aquaculture – floating gardens. This enables them to grow what they need on Inle water.
Currently, Inle Lake is one of the popular tourist destinations in Myanmar. People from Inle Region are quite friendly and simple. Apart from the unique way of life of the Inthas, there are a number of interesting places in Inle. These include famous Phaungdawoo Pagoda, Khaung Dine Village, Indein, Maing Thauk, Nga Phe Chaung and Ywama.
Travelling to Inle Lake is also quite easy, with all domestic airlines running several flights to nearby Heho every day. Highway express buses from Yangon and Mandalay also run several buses to Taungyi and Nyaungshwe near Inle. Accommodation in Inle Lake tends to be quite expensive but both budget and high end accommodation can be easily found in Nyaung Shwe and Taunggyi. There are also a number of interesting places near Inle such as Taunggyi, Kakku, Sakar, Aungban and Kalaw.
Editor’s Note: Many of the above information has been obtained from our reference book Lonely Planet Guide to Myanmar (Burma)