Turning right off the road from Yangon to Bagan, Modern Traveller spent several awestruck days absorbing the astounding surroundings of this natural and cultural oasis.
Increasingly popular with travellers venturing deep into Myanmar’s midlands, Inle Lake is an idyll of stilted shelters and lakeside communities, where a day’s boat trip tour can only scratch the surface of what makes this freshwater lake – and those who call it their home – so special.
From artisans to fishermen, market merchants to – more recently – tour guides, Inle Lake supports thousands of inhabitants in the Nyaung Shwe township upon its banks, providing, in one way or another, the food, farmland and fabrics which sustain this Shan State community.
As of 2015, the lake has been a designated Biosphere Reserve, as part of a UNESCO initiative intended to protect important natural areas and encourage sustainable development. Whilst such protection offers no guarantee as to the security of Inle Lake’s future, it’s recognition much deserved by this uniquely astonishing ecosystem.
Inspired to visit Inle Lake? Journeys to Nyaung Shwe are generally best made by bus from Yangon, which can be reached by air from Bangkok, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City, among other locations.
WORDS & IMAGES BY CHRIS ROWLANDS
Amazed by these photographs? For more stunning shots from this incredible region, grab a copy of Chris Rowlands’ photography book Elements of Southeast Asia.