A private long-tail boat, decked out with cushioned chairs, life jackets, umbrellas- for sun and wind protection- and blankets, is just the way to travel around this giant lake.  There are countless highlights on this full-day tour, but the everyday life of the locals here is perhaps the most remarkable. There are the beautiful stilted houses, floating gardens and the famous fishermen who use a unique leg-rowing technique to drive their boats forward while throwing their nets. Then there are the striking pagodas, including Phaung Daw Oo, the lake’s main sanctuary, with its sacred Buddha images. Nearby, the royal barges used during the pagoda’s annual festival, are also on show. Inpawkhone, a village known for its weaving, has artisans displaying how threads are made from the fibrous stems of the lotus flowers and the age-old techniques of silk being spun. A cheroot factory, where Burmese cigars are rolled by hand, is another nearby must-see. The village of Indein, (inaccessible by boat during April and May, although it can be reached by road) provides magnificent views of the lake and has picturesque stupas of its own to photograph and enjoy.

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