Inle Lake Travel Guide
Inle Lake is one of the obvious hotspots in Myanmar that we just had to go to. We have low expectations when it comes to these “hotspots” that are so often talked about and more than often exaggerated. But we were SO blown away! It was so beautiful and interesting and everything we didn’t expect it to be! Love it when that happens!
The Inle Lake Tour
At 7:40 am we made our way to the pier and negotiated a price of 15 000 Kyat for the boat. And so our Inle Lake adventure began.
The tour started off with 10kms of wide open lake cruising. The seagulls followed above as we glided past the early morning fishermen. Their bamboo hats, large nets and unique techniques are fasinating to watch. Wouldn’t be surprised if the sunrise photographers shed a tear or two.
The first set of fishermen seemed to be posing slightly upon our arrival and even signalled for a tip.
For a more authentic experience, wait until you are closer to the villages and watch the fishermen conquer their one leg row and spear striking tactics in complete oblivion to the passing boats. We watched in awe as they pushed their large round nets deep into the water and speared the fish from above.
Our first stop was at the Traditional Cigar House where we sat, drank tea and smoked banana cigarettes. They were honestly quite amazing!
We then glided through the picturesque Floating Village. These Shan State children learn to swim and row before they learn to walk.
Next stop was the Silk, Cotton and Lotus Hand Weaving House. We were taken through the entire process which ended in their small shop below. How special to be able to buy a scarf or night gown that you have just seen being made. They sell for between $15 plus.
The Floating Garden boasted lush tomato fields which stretched out on both sides of the river. They really have mastered sustainable living, even without the use of actual land.
These Karen woman are as beautiful as they are controversial. Coming from Thailand, we would advice against paying money to visit these ladies – as it has become somewhat of a human zoo. But Myanmar is where they originate and not where they are recreated for tourism. Speaking to these Paduang woman allowed us to understand more about their small ethnic family culture. Did you know the “long neck” heavy neck piece was originally designed in order to protect them from the deathly bite of a tiger?
As the day continued we viewed the Silversmith House and shopped around in a beautiful and very tempting craft market. We also stood and watched as a few locals handmade a traditional Inle Lake boat out of their indigenous Teak wood.
The tour then ended the same way everything ends in Myanmar. With hot tea and cat cuddles.
Tips for the Inle lake Tour
- Get to the pier at 7:30 and negotiate your tour directly with the guides. It is much cheaper this way compared to booking through a hotel or agency.
- An English speaking guide is useful when it comes to navigating the lake and learning more about the culture. Watch out: You may book your tour with an English speaking guide who then conveniently replaces himself with his non-English speaking friend (our scenario).
- Bring a warm top as the morning section is very chilly.
- Bring money with for lunch and incase you want to buy some local crafts.
We were so happy we stayed a few extra days. The Lake is definitely not the only attraction! We highly recommend hiring a bicycle for 2000 Kyat and cycling to the below spots! The cycling is pretty flat and all the attractions are within 10kms from the lake. We had so much fun!
3 Must See Places around Inle Lake
1. The Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery
As South Africans (natural born wine-lovers), we wouldn’t say the wine was amazing – but we still loved the view and vibe of it all!
2. The Htat Eian Cave Temple (known as the Buddha Cave)
3. The local Markets in Nyaung Shwe Town
Watch our quick GoPro Movie from our Inle Lake experience:
Looking for accommodation in Inle lake, click on the below link for the best deals:
Also, view our suggested Budget Accommodation in Myanmar here.