Everyone says Inle Lake is a must-see, shouldn’t be missed destination in Myanmar, but what they don’t tell you is how the area is completely commercialized and built for tourists.
I hiked to Inle Lake from Kalaw, you can read the post here. When I first got there by boat, the lake felt grand and special. I saw fishermen fishing or gathering seaweed using the tradition technique. I saw lines of houses in the floating villages and women selling goods on boats.
That was until I had a better look the next day, with a couple others. We rented a boat to take us around the lake, and that was when we realized how commercialized the area has become. There are floating markets, lacquer, textile and silver workshops all made up specifically catered to tourists. Many of these activities didn’t originally exist.
Worst of all, when we were driving around the lake, we noticed there were some “fishermen” that would pose so patiently for your picture. How kind we thought. Turns out they’re actually patiently waiting for your tip. Some of them aren’t even fishermen. They just dress as them to make money…
The town itself is fairly small and doesn’t offer much either. I’m still glad I went though, just because the floating villages are fairly unique.