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Shan State: Jumping Cats and Leg-Rowers Shan State Landscape | Arts & Culture | 0 comments

There are few places in Myanmar (Burma) that more fully express the uniqueness of this country than Shan State.
Shan State: Jumping Cats and Leg-Rowers

Most of Shan State—Myanmar’s largest—rests on a hilly plateau between towering mountains to the north and south, cut through by the scenic Thanlwin (Salween) River. Existing between the past and the present, Shan State is home to countless natural and historical wonders as well as an array of diverse and unique ethnic groups. The area is a must-visit for travelers to the country.

Intha Leg Rowers

Inle Lake is the only place in the world to see the famous leg rowers. Native Intha fishermen deftly grip a single long bamboo oar with one leg while paddling (and straddling) long flat-bottomed boats around the lake and its many canals—all while dressed in traditional Shan attire.

Nearby, visitors can tour the Nga Phe Kyaung Buddhist monastery where the monks have trained the many cats and kittens there to jump through hoops... literally. If that’s not your thing, there are ample opportunities to hike the unexplored mountains, cycle through hundreds of crumbling stupas or canoe on the lake itself.

Early risers can even join scores of locals who jog, exercise or take martial arts classes around Inle Lake each morning as the sun comes up. To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling, Shan State—and especially Inle Lake—is truly unlike any place you’ve ever seen.

Inle Lake

In the heart of Shan State lies idyllic Inle Lake. The lake attracts visitors for its crystal clear waters and floating gardens, as well as to catch a glimpse of the famous leg rowers. Inle Lake is Myanmar’s second largest freshwater lake, with a surface area of 116 km (44.9 miles). Seventy thousand people coexist in four main cities and numerous villages around—and on—the lake.

The population consists mainly of native Intha, although Shan, Bamar, Taungyo, and Pa-O, Kayah and Danu ethnic groups are represented as well. Most of the residents live simply in stilt houses made of wood and woven bamboo and make their living off the land through farming and fishing.


For ideas on where to stay in Myanmar (Burma), be sure to check out our featured hotel recommendations.

Start exploring our What to See & Do section for more ideas on where to go and what to do while you're in Myanmar!


More attractions in Shan State? Check out: Hidden Gems: Lashio

If you're interested in Landscape attractions - check out: Kandawgyi Lake

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