Inle Lake Myanmar
To get to Inle Lake, Myanmar you actually need to go to Nyaung Shwe. That’s the town Inle Lake it in. Most people go to Inle for the Lake and the lake itself would justify the trip but there are actually a number of cool things to do there. And it’s a nice town.
It is a very quiet area though so don’t be expecting to go and have a riotus party. Most of the locals there work on the water therefore if you walk into a bar a 3/4pm in the afternoon it will be packed with locals drinking bottles of whisky. By 9pm almost all the bars have closed.
As I mentioned at the end of my post on Bagan there are no hostels in Inle Lake, or there weren’t when I visited, so if you’ll want some company while there or someone to split the cost of the boat trip with, make friends with the other people on your bus ride there. It would have been tough going to meet people there.
The guy I made friends with on the bus there was really cool and it was one of those wonderful travel friendships where we just got on with hanging out and having fun exploring together. He even rented a room in the same hotel as me so we were together all the time from when we first met. And yet still, somehow it took us until the second night to realised we’d never actually told each other our names. And it kind of hadn’t mattered in the slightest. We eventually did and are still friends on Facebook to this day, hey James!.
Since Inle Lake is the main reason to go to the area I’ll start with that.
Inle Lake, Myanmar
The day trip out on the lake is absolutely beautiful and makes a nice change from seeing temples.
On the trip they stop at a couple of floating markets and textile places etc. As is generally the case with this sort of thing, they’re expecting you to buy something at the stops and it can be quite awkward when they stop at the locations with just one shop, you’re the only ones in there and you have no interest in buying anything. The large market they stop at for lunch is great if you want to get some souvenirs to take home though.
I actually had a pendant fall of my necklace as we walked around that market. My new travel friend and I started looking and as he was searching a shop keeper stopped him to ask what he was doing, proceeded to produce the pendant and returned it to him. When he caught up with me I tried to offer the woman who found it money. She refused. She even had a jewellery stall and could have kept it for herself to sell on but instead returned it and wouldn’t even accept a reward for doing so.
Don’t believe all the stories you hear about people being dangerous or scary in other countries. A lot are just as lovely as you.
Many probably much nicer, even ?.
As well as stopping at the market and shops at one point our boat driver decided to stop somewhere to show us a pagoda. I couldn’t possibly tell you what it was called as he just stopped off but I mentioned it as if the same happens to you’ll need to make sure you have something to cover up with on you.
As I’d been in Asia for almost 3 months by this point I was all over that situation but if you’ve just arrived in the area, I can see why “boat trip” wouldn’t scream, bring a long sleeve shirt and trousers!
My male counterpart was of course fine in his shorts. As it’s a lot of the time only female bodies that people really care about being covered up.
Our boat actually broke down on the way back. It had been captained for the day by this little dude below and his dad. But 15 minutes outside the town the motor just cut out.
By this time it was the afternoon and there weren’t a lot of other boats around so it looked like a bit of a desperate sitution for a while. They both had oars to paddle with so we would probably, hopefully, have made it back eventually but it would have taken a long time. While the kid kept paddling and keeping the boat on course though the dad whipped out a tool kit and started working away at the motor. We got near to some floating houses at this point and one of them jumped off and returned a few minutes later. Turns out we’d just run out of petrol ???.
We first tried to book the boat trip through our hotel but it seemed more expensive than we’d been told it would be so we walked around the town and asked in a couple of the tour offices (they have placards outside so you can spot them). It was cheaper to go through one of them so we booked it separately from our accommodation and just had to meet them at the shop front early the next morning.
Khaung Daing Natural Hot Spring Inle Lake – Nyaung Shwe
As I mentioned at the start taking a boat trip around Inle Lake isn’t thing to do in Nyaung Shwe. We therefore hired bicycles and cycled up to the hot springs in Nyaung Shwe.
The hot springs aren’t very natural looking but they’re still really enjoyable to have a soak and relax in.
They also house one of my favorite sings in Asia (you will encounter a lot of GOOD signs in Asia!).
Wine Tasting in Inle Lake at Red Mountain Estate Vineyards
Whilst we had our bicycles we went up to a vineyard that we’d heard had wine tastings (it’s really hard to find good affordable wine in Asia and beer becomes most peoples’ standard drink so I jumped at the chance to go find some good wine).
It’s a nice cycle to the vineyard but fair warning there is a really steep hill near the end.
Where to Stay in Inle Lake – Nyaung Shwe
I stayed at Bright Hotel. A lot of accomodation is really expensive for a backpacker budget in Nyaung Shwe. Bright Hotel was on the cheaper end of all of the options I saw but a nice enough hotel and close to the center of town.
How Long to Spend in Inle Lake, Nyaung Shwe
I spent 2 nights there and that felt like a good amount of time. It gave us enough time to explore everything we wanted to during the day without feeling rushed at any point. I’d happily have spent another night there too as the town has a really lovely feel to it.
Moving On: How to get from Inle Lake, Nyaung Shwe, to Yangon
I got the overnight bus back to Yangon which was really comfortable and came with free snacks. The journey is about 12 hours.