Inle Lake ranks as one of the must-see destinations in Myanmar and for good reason, each side is banked by tall hills creating a stunningly beautiful expanse of water surrounded by a unique community of 17 villages. The Intha people that live here are culturally different from the rest of Shan State and are perhaps most famous for their extraordinary skill in leg-rowing on skiffs boats that glide across the water. Visitors to the area can also experience life on the lake by staying in the numerous hotels and guesthouses perched on stilts out on the water. Bargain-hunters can chose from the array of silk weaves and silver from lakeside workshops available at markets that move from village to village. One of the best times to visit is during September and October when Inle Lake comes alive in a flotilla of starry lights for the sacred three-week festival Phaung Daw Oo.
The Phaungdawoo Pagoda is one of the famous principal shrines in Myanmar, this pagoda houses five small Buddha images. Once a year, in late September and early October, there is a pagoda festival during which the five Buddha images are rowed around the Lake in a colorful barge.
The Shwe Indein Pagoda is located on the western bank of Inle Lake. A Buddha image is enshrined at a white washed stupa, which is on the summit of a hill. Below the stupa around the hill are clusters of hundreds of ancient stupas – most are ruins overgrown with bushes. The pagoda hill is quiet and calm. One can feel the pleasant cool breeze with the sweet ringing of the bells hanging on the umbrella of the stupa. Mesmerizing views from Pagoda Hill release the fatigue and refresh everybody who ascends the peak.
The Nga Phe Chaung Monastery is located on at Inle Lake, on the way to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. This is an attractive wooden monastery built on stilts over the lake at the end of the 1850s. Aside from its collection of Buddha figures, the monastery may be of interest to visitors because its monks have taught a few of the many cats living with them to jump through hoops.
The Ywama Village is the largest village on the shores of Inle Lake, and its streets are a web of canals. There is some beautiful teak houses built on large wooden poles driven into the lake bed. The main attraction is the renowned floating market found in the largest canal. By boat, it will take you 15 minutes. You can visit the goldsmith workshops; observe the sculpture and umbrella industries.
The Miine Thauk Market is a large and bustling market where one can find genuine local atmosphere with a variety of produce from the lake. Usually the market is open every five days.