Inle Lake: Home of the Leg-rowing fishermen in Myanmar

A Fisherman enjoying his time at the Inle Lake

Inle Lake is one of the must-visit places in Myanmar. It is located in central Myanmar, which is accessible from the country’s capital - Yangon, and the nearest international airport - Mandalay via domestic flight. At 22 miles long, it is the country’s second-largest lake and home to nine species of fish that are endemic to the area.  The lake features picturesque and stunning views you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Inle Lake is also famous for its unspoiled and traditional charm which is increasingly hard to find in today’s overpopulated world.


 A visit to Inle Lake will provide you an opportunity to interact with locals and learn some of their traditional ways of planting, fishing, cooking, and making handicrafts. The villagers are warm and friendly who are keen to open up to tourists. 


One of the highlights when visiting Inle Lake is that you will be able to witness fishermen rowing their boats using their legs. Those fishermen belong to the Intha people who are the main tribe that lives around Inle Lake. 

The Intha, which translates to ‘lake people’ in Burmese are a traditional tribe who live a simple yet sustainable lifestyle on and around the lake: fishing, farming, and sometimes crafting souvenirs to sell to tourists. They live in houses on stilts that you’ll see all around the shores of the lake, farm the floating gardens, vegetable beds made from woven reeds and pegged to the lake bed with stakes.

The Floating market of Inle Lake

The technique is a tribal tradition that’s believed to date back to the 12th century and has been handed down from one generation to another. Leg rowing fishermen started learning the technique as teenagers and some keep going well into their 70s and beyond.  It’s said that standing up in the boat enables the fishermen to see the fish more clearly, as well as being able to avoid any weeds or other debris that might get tangled in the boat or the net. But it’s only men who use this technique; if women row, they do it the traditional way - with two hands, sitting down.

The trick is to use one leg to move the oar so the boat glides slowly forward. The fisherman then uses his two free hands to pull the net and remove any small fish that may have caught. The fishermen make the whole process looks easy, but it definitely requires superior levels of balance, strength, and agility.


Indeed, Inle Lake is truly a must-see natural attraction in Myanmar.

Fisherman showing the traditional way of fishing at the Inle Lake

Here are the reasons why you should consider Inle Lake, Myanmar as your next travel location:

1.    Stand in awe at the magnificence of the Kakku Pagodas complex.

2.    Be amaze at the olden charm of Shwe Inn Dein Pagoda.

3.    Cruise along the calm and peaceful Inle Lake.

4.    Witness first-hand the traditional fishing method of the natives at Inle Lake.

5.    Shop for locally made products and souvenirs when you visit the five-day markets.

6.    Experience another view of Inle Lake from the sky when you take a hot air balloon ride.

7.    Take a short side trip when visiting the lake’s hidden floating gardens.

8.    Experience the warm hospitality of the natives who reside in Inle Lake as you spend time exploring their home.

Myanmar has a collection of diverse cultures and traditions that are unfolded together to form a captivating landscape of wonder.  It is also a place for those who are looking for peace and solitude.


What are you waiting for? Plan your Myanmar trip and fly with us soon.


Blog Contributed by: Jamie Ann Faye Serapio

Photos by: Rakso Travel


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