There’s only one Venice, but you might be surprised to find that you can get the same scenic and historic feel – complete with canal ‘streets’ and gondoliers – in several other towns across the globe. In fact, there are dozens of picturesque floating villages and islands that are so heavily populated, you can barely tell that there’s land under all the man-made structures. Here are some of the most fascinating water-based communities in Asia.
Ko Panyi, Thailand
Set against the dramatic background of picturesque Phang Nga Province in Thailand, the fishing village of Ko Panyi looks like paradise for people who love the water and tropical weather. The village was built on stilts by fishermen and houses about 2,000 people descended from 2 families. The coolest thing about this village is its floating soccer pitch, built by local children from old scraps of wood and fishing rafts.
Halong Bay Floating Village, Vietnam
Like Ko Panyi, the Halong Bay village in Vietnam is set up on the only flat space to be seen – the surface of the water. Except this one isn’t on stilts. It floats. Living directly on the bay makes it easy for the roughly 1,000 locals to catch fish and other seafood. The first two villages were formed in the early 19th century and the only time since then that the water hasn’t been heavily occupied with floating homes was during the war against the French from 1946 to 1954.
Located in the center of six ancient towns south of the Yangtze River in China, Wuzhen is a scenic town full of canals navigated by water taxis reminiscent of those in Venice. Known as Wuzhen Water Town, the historic town is said to have been populated for at least 7,000 years and bears ancient stone bridges and wooden carvings.
Here’s another example of a Venice-like town in China, infused with ancient Chinese history and culture. Zhouzhang is a water township surrounded and divided by lakes and rivers and has 14 stone bridges, including one built in the Ming Dynasty.
Kay Lar Ywa, Myanmar
Myanmar’s Inle Lake supports 70,000 people in four cities including the small comity of Kay Lar Ywa. Many of the residents live in simple wooden houses on bamboo stilts, and support themselves by growing food in floating gardens. The Intha people have a practice known as ‘leg rowing’, hooking a leg around a long oar to propel a boat to navigate between their homes and gardens. Some 100,000 people live and work on the water.