Inle Lake Myanmar – If you’re visiting Myanmar, Inle Lake (along with Bagan) is one of those places you simply have to visit. It has authentic landscapes and a culture of its own, and I can tell you that being in the midst of all that is a life-changing experience. But let’s not dive into details right away and go over a few essential things to keep in mind first.
How to get there?
You’ll have a few options to choose from, including the trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake. I hopped on a train from Kalaw to get to Inle Lake. Keep in mind that all means of transportation (apart from the trek) will take you from Shwenyaung to Taunggyi. From there, a 30 to 40-minute minibus ride will take you to Nyaung Shwe, the nearest village to Inle Lake.
The Kalaw to Inle Lake Trek
It’s not that I don’t like trekking, it’s just that I like to wander around here and there instead of following a group or a guide when I get to discover some place new, that’s why I decided to take a train to Inle Lake. Just in case you need some information on the trek from Kalaw, check out this article to help you get organized.
Train Trip From Kalaw
Trains and railways in Myanmar are worn out and therefore really slow to say the least, but train trips are still enjoyable ways of getting a good dose of landscapes when traveling.
My 3-hour train trip was rather shaky but fun! The train kept swaying like a boat in the middle of the ocean and even some luggage fell off it. It was scary and funny at the same time. I mean there’s nothing like being on a train that makes you fell like it’s going to fall off the track, but everything went well and I got to Inle Lake safe and sound. If you get seasick rather quickly, you should probably try something else.
I paid around 3000 kyats for a one-way ticket from Kalaw to Shwenyaung, which is around $2.5. There are two daily departures from Kalaw; the first is at 11:40 AM, the second is at 1:30 PM.
Grab a Bus
You can also take the bus to go to Inle lake and it’s actually the most convenient and confortable option. You can book directly your tickets here:
The Best Hotels
Like I said, Nyaung Shwe is the closest village to Inle Lake so you’ll find most of the hotels there. If you can afford luxurious lakeside hotels like this one, go for it!
Otherwise, if you’re on a budget, you will have to stay in the Nyaung Shwe village, which is very close to Inle Lake anyway.
The first hostel I stayed in was Song of Travel. If you’re a backpacker traveling on a budget, it’ll have everything you need. I’m sure you’ll meet a lot of nice people there; I know I did! There will also be bikes for you to borrow (for free) if you need to. Be sure to book your spot in advance though, you’ll be surprised how crowded it gets!
If you’re traveling with someone or you just don’t want to spend the night in a dorm, you’ll find nice, affordable rooms in the Remember Inn but again, early booking is your keyword here!
Now that you know how to go to Inle Lake and where to stay, let’s see what you can do there!
Inle Lake Myanmar – Take a Boat Trip
It goes without saying that the first thing to do when you get to Nyaung Shwe is to hop on a boat and cruise around the lake. You can book your boat trip online and the tour takes more or less the whole day.
You’ll get to meet Inle Lake’s leg-rowing fishermen who use a typical rowing technique to row around on their boats.
As for fishing techniques, there are quite a few but some use these conical fishing nets to catch fish!
Others try to force fish into a net by slapping the lake’s surface with their paddle.
Apart from fishing, the lake makes possible the growing of fruits and vegetables in what could be described as floating lake gardens…
…that children help harvest when time comes.
You’ll get to know the lake’s craftsmen in their working environment like these famous cigar making workshops.
You will certainly meet Padaung people who are part of the Kayan tribes. The women there wear brass neck coils and are referred to as “giraffe women”. At nine years old, little girls wear 4 kg neck coils which are replaced by 6 kg coils at the age of 20 then by 10 kg ones when they’re older.
You will definitely make more discoveries as you cruise around the lake so I’m not going to give everything away here!
Inle Lake Myanmar – Go On a Hot-Air Ballon Trip Over the Lake
Just like in Bagan, you can enjoy balloon flights over Inle Lake. If you get to the west side of the lake early in the morning, you can hop on a balloon and cross the lake while the sun rises. I feel grateful that I could be part of such an experience, and magical would be too small a word to describe how it was.
I don’t need to tell you how beautiful the lake looked from up there, do I? Here’s a picture my Belgian friend Mathieu took. He’s the photographer with whom I shared this unique experience.
The only drawback to all this is its cost. You’d have to pay around $400 to fly up there so it’s a considerable downside that needs to be addressed but the whole experience was very special to say the least. If you’d like to book a flight, you can visit Oriental Ballooning, that’s where we got started. I myself was really satisfied with their services. Top notch security measures were undertaken and maintained to make sure we experience the most serene of balloon flights!
Inle Lake Myanmar – Take a Stroll in Nyaung Shwe Market
The Nyaung Shwe village has a very nice and colorful market where you can buy fresh and organic produce for cheap. Local avocados are a real treat! You can also go there at night and eat delicious fish at very affordable prices.
Inle Lake Myanmar – Visit the Forest Monastery
Just behind Maing Thauk village, east of Inle Lake, there’s a peaceful monastery surrounded by a beautiful forest. I really recommend you give it a try; a bike tour of the monastery would be ideal even though a slight slope makes it a bit of a workout. Here’s a map to help you find your way to the monastery, it’s in the bottom right corner.
-> Google Map Link.
I was delighted by the monastery monks’ warm welcome. Apparently, they aren’t used to tourists climbing all the way up to visit them. They offered me rice and we even meditated together. I’ll never forget those moments!
Inle Lake Myanmar – Visit the Htet Eain Gu Cave
There’s a cave, lost somewhere in nature, east of Nyaung Shwe. A monk guards it and keeps it clean. There’s no tourist rush in there so you can take your time to visit the cave with the friendly monk who keeps it. I honestly wasn’t expecting to find this cave, I was just biking around and there it was. What a nice surprise, right?
Here’s how you can get there.
Inle Lake Myanmar – Have a Sip of the Local Red Mountain Vineyards’ Wine
A good old glass of local wine, how’s that for a crowning moment? To give your visit of Inle Lake a majestic final touch, you can spend some quality time in Red Mountain’s vineyards near Nyaung Shwe. You can bike there from Nyaung Shwe and make it coincide with sunset, if you want to enjoy the most beautiful views.
I think you know everything there is to know about Inle Lake so it’s time to come visit! I hope my experience will help you live yours in the most fulfilling of ways and that you will make amazing memories in Myanmar.
Please share this blog post with your friends and let me know if you have any questions or comments by posting in the comment section below.
Talk to you all very soon,