Inle Lake is a vast serene body of water over 13 miles long and seven miles wide. It is fringed by marshes and floating gardens, where stilt-house villages and Buddhist temples rise above the water. Inle Lake is known for the unique way of life of the Intha people, who have based their lifestyle around this beautiful body of water. They live in stilted houses built on the lake and even grow their vegetables on floating gardens that are secured to the lake bottom with bamboo stakes. Skilled boatmen and fishermen, the Intha, are famous for their unique style of rowing in which they stand on one leg while using the other leg to push the oar through the water. Ywama is a typical example of a traditional Inle Lake settlement, and is most famous for its floating market. It also has various handicraft workshops, a monastery and the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, one of the holiest sites in Shan State, visited by Buddhist worshippers from all around Myanmar. The Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda festival takes place in October and features the passage of four revered Buddha images around the villages of Inle Lake on the barge, taking 18 days to complete their journey. There are also rowing competitions between the villages, using the renowned local leg rowing style. For an entirely different type of experience, head up to the Red Mountain Estate vineyard in the hills to the east of Inle Lake for some wine tasting. One of only two vineyards in Myanmar, this definitely breaks the mould of your day-to-day Myanmar experience, making it suddenly feel as if you have been transplanted to the south of France.

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