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Shan Nationalities

Palaung

palaung01The Palaung reside chiefly in Myanmar's Shan State, and only a few are in China's Yunnan Province, and are referred to as the "De-Ang" People. In all, this ethnic group of people total about 70,000 and are distinguished by the silver and lacquered bamboo hoops that married women wear around their waists.

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Pa-O

pa-o01The Pa-O reside in the Hpa-an area of Kayin State, in the Thaton area of Mon State, as well as in the Taung Gyi area of Shan State. They are estimated to number about 700,000. This is a festival in Aung-Ban Town.

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Danu

Said to number only a few thousand, the Danu live in the Kalaw and Pindaya areas of Shan State and the Pyin U Lwin area of the Mandalay Division. Their language is a dialect of Burmese.


 
 

La

The La, who are also called "Ka-La", are a subgroup of the Wa. There are only 6 known villages of the La people, which are in the high mountain ranges north of Kyaing Tong.

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Samdau

According to scholars, thousands of years ago Kyaing Tong basin and the surrounding area were home to the Wa and Palaung aborigines. The Samdau (also called Kawa), a subgroup of the Wa, still live in hamlets in the hilly country of the Meng La area. They are one of the diminishing tribes of Shan State.

 
 

Padaung

padaung01"Padaung" means "long-neck" in the Shan language. Traditionally, women wore neck-rings, but this practice has decreased recently. The Padaung, a subgroup of the Kayah tribe which is linked with the Karen tribe, is said to number around 50,000. They reside mainly in Kayah State, but can also be seen in the mountains of southern Shan State. At a village in Meng La.

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Thai-Lu

The Thai-Lu are a subgroup of the Shan people, who originated in Sip-song-pan-na of Yunnan China, and are dispersed throughout the Shan State in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. At Wan-Paw Village (literally, Coconut Village), where the gentle slopes give way to a valley basin, the villagers happily thresh the rice harvest.

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Akhu

The Akhu, as the name implies, are said to be a subgroup of the Akha. The Akhu are a very small group, said to have only four villages in the Kyaing Tong region. The entire community of Wan-Jai Village (literally, Young Boy's Village) attends service at a Baptist church on Sunday (right page.)

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Eng

eng01The Eng, who refer to themselves as "Va" are possibly related to the Wa tribe. They live only in the foothills of the Kyaing Tong basin and are another diminishing tribe.Eng women often marry at the age of 14 or 15. The colorful ornaments suit their black garb. The Eng fear "water spirits" and therefore build their villages away from marshes and rivers.

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Shan Gyi

shan-gyi01Shan-Gyi means "Bigger Shan". Living mainly in the valleys of the Shan Plateau, they are traditionally wet-rice cultivators. The Shan-Gyi, along with the Khun and Thai-Lu, are a subgroup of the Shan who total about 4 million in Myanmar. The Shan are the second largest ethnic group in Myanmar after the Bamar.

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Lisu

The grand Lisu New Year celebrations, held at each village, go on for three days. At each house, the dancers form a circle around the sacred New Years tree and do simple steps to accompanying music from a kind of three-stringed banjo.

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Lahu-Shi

The Lahu, who bear striking similarities to Native Americans, have been categorized into subgroups, such as the Lahu-Shi (yellow Lahu), Lahu-Na (black Lahu) and Lahu-Ni (red Lahu) depending on their language and the clothing worn by the women. The man and woman in these photos are Lahu-Shi.

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Lahu-Na

lahu01A Lahu-Na (Black Lahu) festival in Kyaing Tong. The Lahu-Na, a Lahu subgroup, are very good-natured and open. It's said that the Lahu-Na men are very kind to their wives. They are hospitable to guests from other reigions, and the villagers always help one another.

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Khun

The Khun and Shan-Gyi are closely related and of Thai-Shan extraction. To the east of the Thanlwin River, the percentage of Khun speakers is high, while to the west, the percentage of Shan-Gyi speakers is high. Both the Khun and Shan-Gyi have their own writing and literature.

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Akha

akha01The Akha, referred to as the "Kaw" or "Yi-Kaw" in Shan State, often live in highlands 1,000m or more above sea level. They have practiced slash-and-burn agriculture from long ago, and have moved from place to place in search of land to cultivate. Their population is roughly 200,000 in Myanmar, 50,000 in Thailand, and 20,000 in Laos.

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Intha

intha01The Intha people are hard-working. Cigar-rolling and weaving are the women's work. One tradition says that the Intha people living on Lake Inle are the descendents of those who fled from Dawei, 800km to the South, in order to escape war during the 18th century. "Intha" means "Children of the Lake", and its language closely resembles Myanmar.

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