You’ve probably wanted to just say screw it, sell everything you have, buy a boat, and live by the sea at least once in your life. No more responsibilities, just catching fish and watching the sunset sink into the deep blue horizon. Well, that little daydream is a reality for a lot of communities. In fact, they’ve been doing it way longer than any of us even learned to swim. Dip your toes into this list as we take you through the floating villages all over Asia.
Back in the 1800s, only Thai nationals were allowed to own land in the country. Some Malay nomads had to get crafty, so they built this village on stilts by the bay. Thanks to the tourism they generate, the settlers have even constructed their own mosque and schools on the nearby beach.
Ko Panyi, Mueang Phang-nga District, Phang-nga, Thailand
Not native to any lands, the Sea Gypsies of Borneo, also known as the Bajau, live entirely on the sea for years. They have no concept of reading, writing, or even age and time. They spend their time fishing, swimming, and living in the moment.
Hong Kong, China • Wishlist •
Surrounded by skyscrapers and metropolitan cities, the Aberdeen Harbour in Hong Kong has a relatively large population of 6,000 people living on boats. With the improving living conditions, many boat-dwellers have moved inland and boats have become solely for fishing.
Aberdeen Harbor, Hong Kong
Siem Reap, Cambodia • Recommendation •
The Kampong Phluk Village relies on fishing and shrimping for most of the year, but are quick to adapt to the seasons year-round. When the waters recede and their houses on stilts get out of reach, the villagers create temporary shelters and begin farming on the fertile land.
Kampong Phluk, Cambodia
The advanced people of Ywama Village from Inle Lake travel between their houses through small boats and bamboo walkways. Instead of focusing on formal bridges, the villagers have built their own workshops, metalsmiths, looms, a stupa, and even a monastery.
Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma)
Ha Long, Vietnam • Recommendation •
The weird topography of the islands around Ha Long Bay makes almost all of it uninhabitable, so Vietnamese fishermen took to using tires and plastics to make their floating settlements. With an emerald lake beneath, it’s probably worth all the trouble to settle there!
Hạ Long Bay, Thành phố Hạ Long, Quảng Ninh, Vietnam
The stilt settlements of Tonle Sap have become more of a cultural heritage than a necessary shelter. While there are still boat dwellers, the boats are now mainly used for traditional celebrations and places to let off some steam like floating basketball courts and floating churches.
Tonlé Sap, Cambodia
Wuzhen Water Town prides itself on its 6,000 years of history and preservation. A river separates the town into four sections and each of these sections are built on bricks with sturdy bridges, giving locals access to all the town has to offer.
Wuzhen, Tongxiang, Jiaxing, Zhejiang, China
Phuket, Thailand • Recommendation •
The Morgen people are a completely different kind of society. They speak a unique language, have never heard of reading or writing, and they themselves don’t know where they came from. They just continue living life, hunting and gathering in the surrounding waters of Phuket Island.
Phuket Island, Phuket, Thailand