The Inle Lake, in the west of Shan State, is the second largest lake in Myanmar and totally unique. It is about 22 kilometres long and 11 kilometres wide. The shore and islands in the lake have small villages with houses on stilts, inhabited mainly by Intha ("sons of the lake") people; they are a Tibeto-Burman group speaking an archaic dialect of Burmese and number around 70,000.
The Intha people grow vegetables on floating gardens and are famous for their rowing technique, standing at the stern of their flat-bottomed boats, one leg wrapped around an oar and propelling the boat with their leg. This way they have a good view of the floating islands and water hyacinths that often form obstacles. Only men perform the leg rowing style however; women sit cross legged at the stern, using the oar with their hands.
The lake is part of the township of Nyangshwe, located a few kilometres north of the lake and to the south west of the state capital of Taunggyi. It is a hub for visitors and has all amenities, hotels, restaurants, a few stupas and a canal filled with local boats. It is easy to organise trips around the lake, a great trip with lots of points of interest; old villages like Indein with its crumbling stupas, impressive monasteries like Phaung Daw Oo Paya, the holiest religious site in southern Shan State, the many stupas of Aung Min Ga Lar Paya and cottage industry in villages: weaving, silver smiths, making of cheroots, cylindrical cigars with both ends clipped during manufacture, to mention a few.