Inle Lake Fishermen: Their unique art of fishing


Inle Lake Fishermen: Their unique art of fishing

Location: Myanmar

Inle Lake, Central Myanmar. 10 km from Nyaungshwe.

My Experience

I would like to focus not on the Inle Lake Tour, but on its people who are the main Highlight. Inle Lake Fishermen. Every morning, a flotilla of slender wooden canoes fitted with long-tailed outboard motors surges out into the lake, carrying visitors to various natural, cultural, religious an commercial sites. That is the way to meet many fishermen doing their own job.  When we left the harbour on board of our boat, it was 5 o’clock in the morning and it was pretty cold, about 8 degrees. The boats have no roof and the humidity and wind can be very strong on the lake, for this reason they gave us a blanket to keep us warm. 

The big adventure started, just after few minutes we stopped on the way to the first floating village and we also saw the first fisherman, he was busy with his fishing net and was making some weird movement collecting the net and trying to keep his balance at the same time.

inle lake fishermen

Fisherman stands up on the bow of the boat. Inle Lake fishermen. 


Inle lake fishermen

It’s possible to see many local people rowing. Inle lake fishermen.


Inle lake fishermen

His Dinner is there and he knows. Inle Lake fishermen. 


Inle lake fishermen

Unique style of fishing. Inle lake fishermen

I was waiting for this moment, because before starting my trip I saw (on internet) many iconic pictures of Myanmar showing Inle Lake fishermen, and now, I was there, in front of them.

I was looking for their canoes the entire time, a long flat wooden boat and their main fishing accessory, a conical net, so after that I focused my attention on the fisherman. He was standing at the bow of the boat, after few seconds the man was paddling with one leg wrapped like a vine around the wooden oar, digging it into the placid lake waters. The reason why they paddle this way is because there are many reeds and water plants in the lake, and if they row sitting down on the boat they could not see them. Standing at the end of the boat they have a better view and also they have their hands free to collect the net whilst propelling the boat.

At that point I asked to my girlfriend: how do they fish? One of the fishermen answered me. First, the fishermen hit the water with their oars and then put the cone-shaped net into the water. This cone has a small net inside and the fisherman trap the fish by throwing the cone-shape net into the water, pressing on it with his feet so it sinks to the bottom where the fish are. 

This unique technique is possible only because the lake is not very deep. I do not think this is fishing, I consider it Art.

Inle lake fishermen

Inle Lake fishermen reunion


Inle lake fishermen

Going around the big lake. Inle lake fishermen


Inle lake fishermen

Beautiful children on the boat near stilt houses. Inle lake fishermen


Inle lake fishermen

A local market around the lake. Inle lake fishermen

Spending a day on a boat trip around the lake was wonderful. Watching Inle lake fishermen is a mus-see in Myanmar. You have a great chance to see some of the real countryside everyday, visiting interesting sights like floating villages, markets and workshops.

How to get there, best time and cost

Inle Lake deserves more than one single day visit, the best way to reach it is to take a bus (from Mandaly, or Yangon) to Nyaungshwe, the main access point to Inle Lake. To organize a boat tour around the lake, go to the Harbour and look for some locals. Bargain the price and arrange with them the itinerary you prefer. Me and my girlfriend paid about 15.000 Kyat each (about 20$AUD) for a full day tour around Inle Lake. We visited local markets, floating village, saw many local people and the typical Inle Lake fishermen in their everyday life.

I think the best time to go there is during shoulder season (oct-nov, mar-apr), the areas around Mandalay and Bagan are hotter and Yangon reaches 40 degrees. We visited Inle Lake in mid January and it was cold, especially in the early morning.

Read more about my experience in South-East Asia.


  • Go early in the morning to avoid the heat but bring some warm clothes with you because the first 2 hours. You will enjoy the sunrise too.
  • Be sure that you and the driver speak the “same language”. It doesn’t mean English, Italian or Burmese. If you don’t want to go in some market shops (remember that the boat driver will get a commission), make sure you discuss before.
  • Bring some water and sun protection.
  • My last tip: Don’t get stuck with the thing that ruins your day, life is too short to be wasted in your crap. Smile and be positive because there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy, one of those is travelling.

Inle lake fishermen

Author of this post:  Davide
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my name is Davide and I’m Italian. I’d always loved to explore far away places and someday, planned to travel the world. But like always, it was a case of when and how. I did a lot, and now I am ready to write, to tell and to share the tips I’ve been learning, feelings and emotion of years of travelling.


  • Ami

    Indeed… The fishing here is an art. Such amazing pictures and I loved the whole description of how they do this. It was fun reading it all

    February 7, 2017 at 8:21 am
    • Davi85travel

      Thank Ami for your comment here! I love this location and all Myanmar! 😀

      February 7, 2017 at 8:44 am
  • Stephanie A Bills

    This was a super interesting and unique post!! I honestly never thought of the “art of fishing” before. This enlightened me to a new way of looking at certain cultures! Thanks!

    February 6, 2017 at 5:09 pm
    • Davi85travel

      Thank you very much for your comment, keep following us around the world! 😀

      February 6, 2017 at 8:49 pm
  • Ana Ojha

    Must be a surreal experience to watch fishermen. The first picture speaks for themselves how fascinating the technique is!

    February 6, 2017 at 5:54 am
    • Davi85travel

      Wonderful and unique life experience there! thanks for your comment

      February 6, 2017 at 8:40 am
  • Marta

    It looks really interesting and unique! I would love to visit Myanmar and take part in the the lake tour! Your pics are great!

    February 5, 2017 at 11:29 pm
    • Davi85travel

      Myanmar was on of the best country during my journey in South east Asia for 110 days, thanks for your comment here

      February 6, 2017 at 8:41 am
  • Stella the Travelerette

    What beautiful photos! I agree that it is more art than fishing. There is such poetry in watching the men work so intently. I would definitely hope to visit Myanmar one day and see it for myself.

    February 5, 2017 at 4:46 pm
    • Davi85travel

      Art fishing and amazing life style, they are unique in Southeast Asia! thanks for commenting here

      February 6, 2017 at 8:42 am
  • Stacey Veikalas

    Oh I love your photos of the fishermen! It really is an art what a great story –

    February 5, 2017 at 1:34 pm
  • Tatum Skipper

    Looks like such a fun, cultural experience! I love fishing but this doesn’t seem like the typical fishing tour haha. Those wooden canoes look like so much fun to go on!

    February 5, 2017 at 12:54 am
    • Davi85travel

      Exactly, amazing style of fishing and stunning journey around the lake! thanks for your comment

      February 6, 2017 at 8:46 am
  • travelwithtarah

    I have actually never been fishing, but this post makes me want to go! Really appreciate all of the tips, thanks!

    February 4, 2017 at 3:42 pm
    • Davi85travel

      Well, we are not really talking about fishing, this is a special art of fishing!! Anyway, thank you

      February 6, 2017 at 8:48 am
  • Vaisakhi Mishra

    Have heard so much about this place and you just educated me more 😀 Lovely clicks! Just so close to earth and the culture 🙂

    February 4, 2017 at 4:25 am
    • Davi85travel

      unique place, unique experience! love Myanmar and love their people, thanks for your comment

      February 6, 2017 at 8:48 am
  • Milijana

    I enjoyed reading your post and yes, I would agree with you: the way those people fish is the Art!
    I especially like your last tip: “Smile and be positive because there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy, one of those is travelling”.
    Many happy travels to all fellow travellers!

    February 3, 2017 at 9:38 pm
  • Linda

    Leggendo questo post sembra di rivevere ciò che hai vissuto! Dev’essere stata una bellissima esperienza sicuramente prima o poi la proverò.

    August 31, 2016 at 6:18 pm
    • Davi85travel
      Davide Fancellu

      Grazie Linda, il Lago di Inle e tutto il suo contorno è stato uno dei posti più interessanti che ho visitato in Myanmar! Se hai voglia leggi qualcosa riguardo i templi di Bagan! Spettacolari…. Enjoy 😀

      September 1, 2016 at 10:52 am

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