The Inle Lake is 22 km (14 mi) long, about 11 km (7 mi) wide and lies a comfortable 875 m (2.871 ft) above sea level. It is very shallow, only two to three meters deep. The lake is surrounded by high plateaus and overlooked by the misty Shan mountains. It is also the home of the Intha people, who have adapted to their environment by building entire villages rising on stilts from the shallow waters. Lake dwellers grow an array of flowers and vegetables in picturesque floating gardens and fields, tended by workers in canoes. They have become famous for their unique one-leg rowing technique.
Sights on the Inle Lake:
Nga Phe Monastery: It is also called the "Monastery of the jumping cats", since the monks have trained their cats to jump through hoops. The different ancient Buddha images inside make this monastery a worthwhile stop.
Five-Day-Market: These bustling markets around Inle Lake are mostly of interest for the variety of different products offered, mainly grown on the floating gardens. Additional local color is added by the presence of the different tribal groups such as the Pa-O, who come from far and wide to sell their items. The market rotates between different villages over five days.
Indaing Village: Indaing is located half way along the western side of the lake and is very interesting due to its 1.094 stupas surrounding the main pagoda, the Indaing Pagoda. This pagoda is the original home of the five famous Buddha images of Inle Lake. Some of the stupas were built during the 11th century and feature beautiful stone carvings.
Phaung Daw U Pagoda: This complex is the holiest religious site in the southern area of the Shan State. It hosts five gold-leaf-covered statues, of which three are Buddha images and two are reportedly Arahats (historical disciples of the Buddha). The gold leaf on the figures has become so thick that the images have become almost unrecognizable. During the 18 days of the famous Phaung Daw U Festival, the ceremonial barge sets off from here to carry four of the five Buddha images around the lake, from village to village, to bless the village monasteries. This festival takes place every year around September and October.
Kaung Daing Village: The village is situated on the northwest shore of the lake and is famous for the production of rice crackers, tofu snacks and fried beans. There are hot springs about 40 minutes walking distance from the village, a popular bathing place for locals and tourists alike.