Situated nearly 900 meters above sea level, Inle (Inlay) Lake is naturally surrounded by high mountains. The name Inle has two meanings; small lake compared to the bigger one in northern Myanmar and Lay which means four, representing four villages that were the first settlements on the lake. The dwellers of those original villages, according to history, came from southern Myanmar where the Myanmar language is spoken with a strong dialect. Innthas as lake residents are called today, speak Myanmar with that same dialect.
Unique things on the lake include: single leg rowing, floating islands, and lotus weaving workshops that use the lotusfiber from lotus flower stems grown in the area.
The people adopted leg rowing for several reasons. One advantage is that standing enables the rower to have a better view of traffic and fish. Another is that having both hands free that allows easier handling of fishing implements, tobacco or coffee.
Floating islands allow movable hyproponic gardens to grow food for individual families and villages.
The lotus strands are used alone or with silk to make fabrics found nowhere else in the world.
There are many activities available in the area.Â One of the most popular is trekking, particularly the hike to Kalaw.Â This trek passes through beautiful mountain scenery and visits many local tribal villages some of which are suitable for overnight camping.
Nyaung Shwe: The town is the gateway to Inle lake. One has to arrive at Nyaung Shwe in order to access to Inle Lake. The town has many restaurants, hotels, travel services booths, internet cafes and so on.
Kalaw: The town is famous as a summer retreat in Myanmar. Built by the British Government as a Hill-station, one can still see many colonial buildings, and feel some British air! The town is a base to do trekking and around the town, there are many tribal villages to visit to.