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  • Top 5 stilt house villages in the world

    Tai O, photo by Sue Waters

    For someone who has lived their entire life in a suburban house with a white picket fence, it could seem unimaginable that anyone would want to live in any other dwelling.

    But different cultures had different understandings of what a home should look like, and in many parts of the world people have lived and still live in houses that make a suburban home seem like the most unimaginative crib in the world.

    And one of the most unusual and exciting places to live (at least, if you aren’t afraid of water) is a stilt house, which has been the house of choice for people in different places on the globe. If the thought of living in an apartment suspended on stilts above water sounds like a lot of fun to you, then you will definitely like visiting the top 5 stilt house villages in the world.

    Tai O, Lantau Island, Hong Kong

    The small fishing village of Tai O on the western side of Hong Kong’s Lantau Island was home mostly to Tanka people, although after the village became a point of immigration to Hong Kong, people of other ethnic groups chose to stay in this scenic place.

    Not all, but many of the houses of the village are built on stilts over the tidal lands – these houses are called pang uks. Although the traditional fishing lifestyle is slowly dying out, there still are a few villages left who live off fishing, and are even willing to take tourists on boat rides for a small fee.

    Stiltsville, Biscayne Bay, Florida, USA

    Stilsville, photo by Ines Hegedus-Garcia on Flickr

    The stilts houses in Biscayne Bay, Florida, were not built by some old community of fishermen, like stilt villages usually are. The history of this stilt village is rather exciting: a dozen or so stilt houses were built in the 20’s and 30’s, and many of them were used as illegal gambling shacks and prohibition-era watering holes, but many belonged to boating or fishing clubs.

    Las Lagunetas, Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela

    It takes a very adamant traveler to reach the tiny village of Lagunetas on Lake Maracaibo. Venezuelan stilt houses, called palafitos, were common in the Lake Maracaibo area when Amerigo Vespucci first landed there (the explorer probably though up the name of Venezuela, meaning Little Venice, after seeing these villages). Lagunetas, like other remaining palafito villages, is almost completely cut off from modern amenities but it is an extraordinary place.

    Kompong Khleang, Cambodia

    Ganvie, photo by Erik Cleves Kristensen

    The village of Kompong Khleang, not far from Siem Reap, is one of the most surprising stilt villages in Cambodia, and a place where time seems to have stood still.

    Kompong Khleang is the largest permanent community on the Tonle Sap Lake – over 20,000 people live in huge houses built on stilts over the water of the lake. This is no mere collection of stilt houses: Kompong Khleang has a school, pagodas and a market.

    Ganvie, Benin

    As the largest lake village in Africa, Ganvie is very popular with tourists, and perhaps not as ‘authentic’ as some would like it to be. And yet, the stilt houses suspended 2 meters over the water are nothing if not fascinating. The village was established around the 16th or 17th century, and with 20,000 inhabitants it is still thriving today.


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