Inle Lake covers an area of 35 kilometers, ringed by rolling hills and shores dotted with small fishing villages. This water paradise is cozily spread out with more than enough space to breathe in a valley between two mountain ranges in western Shan State. It consists of floating villages with the water dwelling Intha tribe and picture perfect visions of the placid waters of Inle lake which is 22 km long and 10 km wide.
When you enter Nyaung Shwe you have to pay $10 (from May 2013) to get your ticket to visit Inle Lake.
Where to Stay
You can find accommodation at Nyaung Shwe (the starting point of Inle lake's boat trips) or board at one of the more luxurious hotels near the shores of the lake.
The only option to get around is by boat (except for cycling in some areas). When you are in Nyaung Shwe simply go to the the west end of Yong Gyi Road (preferably early in the morning) to find a boat of your choice with a guide to start your journey on water.
Since there is a lot to see and do in Inle Lake, if you are not planning to stay for sometime, plan what you are going to do and when, by using our list of highlights or by asking a guide in Inle Lake.
Things to do:
visiting the villages around
- Visit the villages centered around Inle Lake and experience the life of a water dwelling individual. On your visits you will often see Kayan women wearing traditional rings that elongate their necks in a seemingly uncomfortable manner. These women have unfortunately turned out to be mere show pieces for tourists. This has made them lose the real sense of such a cultural practice.
- Boat rides
- Enjoy a quiet boat ride on the lake and watch the floating villages pass by, while fishermen paddle their boats by wrapping one leg around their oar which is a unique and once in a life time sight.
- Bite into the delicious fishy menu at one of many restaurants built on wooden huts on stilts above water. There are many restaurants dotted around the lake where you can indulge in their delicious catch of the day.
- Hitch a ride with a local fisherman and help him haul in the day's catch or go on a unique fishing tour with a local tour guide.
- Add some rare pieces of handicraft or silk dresses to your collection while enjoying the whole idea of shopping afloat a lake.
- Visiting religious sights
- Various Pagodas and Temples can be found dotting the lake and its shores which gives an ethereal quality to this rare water world.
- What a waste it would be if you leave without taking a dip in the clear waters of Inle Lake. Be free and jump over board your boat! (of course ask your guide first about safety and remember the lake tends to be shallow 1.5-3 meters ). Taking sun screen and suntan lotion is a must as it gets hot and there is no place to take shade when you are out on the lake.
- You can visit the eastern part of the lake (Red Mountian Vineyard and Maing Thauk) by bike and this will allow you to feast your eyes on magnificent scenery by the waters. This will cost About $ 2 per day.
- Hot air Balloon Rides
- If you have the means and the spirit for it, a bird's eye view of the lake from a hot air balloon will definitely be the epitome of experience for you. www.easternsafaris.com/balloonsafaris_itinerary.html
Places to see:
Red Mountain Estate Vineyard
- To taste some home grown organic wine while gloating over a well deserved sunset scenery across the lake, go up the east of Inle Lak hills by bike or by taxi from Nyaung Shwe. Boasting of being one of the two vineyards found in Myanmar this out of the country oasis will surely rejuvenate your spirits.
- Nampan Village
- This village, built on wooden houses on stilts, is famous for hand-made cheroot (local cigars) factories and the Alodaw Pauk Pagoda. This pagoda is said to be the oldest in Inle and is gilded with gold and gems. You can also try out the local dishes at the restaurants situated there.
- Floating gardens
- Floating gardens are unique to Inle Lake where the Intha tribe grows a variety of vegetables and flowers. They are situated just a bit north to the village of Nampan. It is a sure sign of the close bond the villagers have with nature. They have nurtured nature and have taken care of the gardens for many generations.
- Maing Thauk
- This village spread partly on land and partly on water, comes together through the link of a long wooden bridge. It houses a busy market and a forest monastery (Main Thauk Forest Monastery). You can either cycle or come by boat to visit this simple village.
- Ywama Village
- Famous for its floating market yet also cradling a group of thriving handicraft workshops, a beautiful Pagoda and a monastery, which has resulted in its omnipresent sense of rush and crowd. If you wish to try out traditional Shan, Burmese and Chinese cuisine at one of the restaurants with peace of mind, come as early as possible in the morning.
- Inthein Shallow Lake
- Situated a bit further away from the center of Inle Lake (boat cost $2.50 -$3). A beautiful canal to the west of Ywama will guide you there. However, it will be closed during the dry season as the water tends to be too shallow for boats.
- Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery
- Featuring a nice meditation hall and built solely out of wood, this monastery is well known for a bizarre, non-religious reason-jumping cats. These cats have been trained by the monks to jump through loops when asked to do so, for touristic purposes.
- the Phaung Daw U Pagoda
- Noted as one of the most sacred places in Shan state, it receives the offerings of pilgrims around the country. This temple features five golden statues of Buddha and a golden colored replica of a ship used by King Alaung Sithu to travel. The villagers gather at the temple and celebrate the Phaung Daw U Pagoda Festival every October. The specialty of the event is the 18 day parade of the four statues of Buddha around the lake on the replica of the ship. You can also enjoy rowing competitions involving the indigenous leg rowing method.