Last updated on March 12th, 2020 at 12:45 pm
Traveling in Inle Lake both of us for the first time in Our Myanmar trip we didn’t know what to expect. Inle Lake is considered touristy, for Myanmar standards. And we knew that the Inle Fisherman are the most popular to see. So we make sure that it’s our priority to see on our tour day. We will tell you all the things to do in Inle Lake, where to stay, how to move around in our Inle Lake travel guide.
Read here our full blog post how to get to Inle Lake!
Inle Lake Travel Guide
How to get to Inle Lake
There are a few options to get to Inle Lake from Yangon. You can go by bus local and VIP bus. You can hire a driver, you can go by train. The most common way to get to Inle Lake from Yangon is by bus
Getting to Inle Lake by Plane
If you are getting to Inle Lake by plane. There are flights to get to Inle Lake to Heho Airport just 45 kilometers North from Inle Lake. You can get a flight from Mandalay, Bagan and Yangon. The flight ticket costs around $70-120 USD. And the taxi will take around one hour to reach Inle Lake from the airport.
Getting to Inle Lake by Bus
If you are getting Inle Lake by bus. There are night buses and mini vans coming from Mandalay will take around 8 hours and it will cost around $10-12 USD. Buses going to Bagan will cost around $10-15 USD depending if you ride a mini van as we did for $10 USD or you choose VIP Bus will be more expensive but you will have more comfort. And buses from Yangon to Inle Lake will take around 12 hours prices are around $15-20 USD depending on the comfort. Buses going to Kalaw will take 2-3 hours and there are a few buses every day. Prices are around 5000 Kyats.
Read here how to get from Bagan to Inle Lake.
Getting to Inle Lake by Train
If you are getting Inle Lake by train. The closest train station is North of Nyaung Shwe. There are two daily tains going to Thazi and Kalaw in the morning. Prices are around $2 USD for 2-3 hours trip to Kalaw. Traveling by train is so affordable in Myanmar.
Getting Inle Lake from Kalaw
If you are getting Inle Lake from Kalaw. You can get Inle Lake from Kalaw in a 3-day trekking. You can hire a guide around $10-15 per day and it’s included accommodation and food.
Travel Tip: Click here to know prices and schedule to book your bus/boat tickets online in Myanmar with 12Go Asia.
Read our full blog post how to get to Inle Lake with all the information that you need.
Best time to visit Inle Lake
When you are visiting Myanmar you should know about the weather. The weather is really hot in Myanmar. There are two seasons in Myanmar for the weather, dry and wet season. Dry season is from October to May being November and December the coldest months in Myanmar. And wet season from May to early October being May and June the hottest months in Myanmar. It means the best time to visit Inle Lake is from October to February when the weather is nicer and not rainy.
Transportation around Inle Lake
There is almost not public transportation in Inle Lake. The best way to move around Inle Lake is renting a motorbike or a bicycle depending or how big are the distance that you are planning to ride. There are taxis to move around and prices are expensive expecting to pay around $20 USD for 30 minutes ride around the lake. You can rent bicycles for $1-2 USD per day and motorbikes for around $10 USD per day. There are also tuk tuk available to move around Inle Lake.
If you are staying around Nyaung Shwe you can go walking distance around the town or renting a bicycle to move around. If you decide to stay around the lake the hotels are far from Nyaung Shwe and you will have to get a taxi to get there.
Currency and ATM’s in Inle Lake
There are a few places where you can withdraw money in Inle Lake. You can also pay with card in hotels and you can exchange money. You will find the best exchange rates in Nyaung Shwe but not so much difference than the hotels. $1 is 1500 Kyats.
Wifi Internet Connection in Inle Lake
Wifi connection is weak around Inle Lake and Nyaung Shwe. You will find often power cuts and the connection will not bet as fast in Yangon. At least data connection was working great for us 4G staying around the lake.
Conclusion guys if you have to get some work done online Inle Lake isn’t the best place for it!
Daily Budget in Inle Lake
You can find cafes and juices serving for $1 USD Nyaung Shwe . You can also eat local food like noodles and rice and vegetables with curry for $1-2. Everything’s really affordable in Nyaung Shwe. If you are staying around the lake prices are higher and expect to pay double price than in the town. There are also beer stations where you can grab a beer for only $1-2 USD. You can rent a bicycle for $1-2 or even getting for free from your accommodation.
If you want to do a tour around the lake you can pay around $15-20 USD for renting a boat a few hours. You will be able to see the fisherman, long neck women and a few interesting activities around the lake. The tour is very interesting in my opinion. I advise you going first thing in the morning to avoid the crowd. Especially around noon time all the places are crowded. We will explain with all the details below in our things to do in Inle Lake.
For accommodation, you can find accommodation prices starting from $15-20 USD in a local guesthouse in Nyaung Shwe depending on how much you want to stretch your budget. Until luxury hotels around the lake can cost $50-300 USD for a room if you wish more comfort when visiting Inle Lake.
Things to do in Inle Lake
1. Inle Lake Boat Tour
Since we are staying with Serenity Inle Resort. We took the tour with them. You can visit the fishermen and about 5 places around Inle Lake.
We started the day at 5:45 am. You’ll have to check the sunrise, because during the day of our tour, the sun was already almost up behind the mountains. A few minutes from the resort, and we were able to see the fishermen doing their traditional fishing techniques.
Like Sri Lanka, who stand in sticks and throw their fishing lines to catch fish, the Inle Lake fisherman uses traditional techniques of fishing that matches how the fishes like in the lake. Using their right foot to paddle the boat, their left foot stays on the boat to balance themselves upright. Only one foot is used to navigate the water, and then they use their nets to catch fish.
If you travel in the northern part of Inle Lake, closest to the bus station, you will actually see these traditional fishing technique performed by fishermen, and you’ll be asked for a fee or a tip. Meanwhile, we were traveling around mid and southern part of Inle, so instead of taking photos of the performers, with their perfect fishing nets, and their hats and traditional Burmese costume, we actually had the experience watching early bird fishermen catch fish in the morning, with no frills, but same technique.
We have to say that it was unexpected that we wouldn’t see the perfectly rehearsed fishermen, however seeing the local fishermen doing their toll in the morning light was actually pretty magical on its own. Our boat driver made sure that we are close enough to take photos, but actually far enough to not disturb the morning’s catch.
After the amazing sunrise and watching this scenery, we head next to the bamboo stick area.
2. Sailing Around Bamboo Area
The bamboo area was one of the most beautiful scenes of the day and you can call it “traffic-y”, but here you won’t see traffic with tourists. You’ll see the regular hustle and bustle of locals as they go thru their morning chores. People will have to travel with their motor boats and some even without motor to get around the lake, because everything is surrounded with water.
Here you’ll also see that their houses and businesses are built over water. It was amazing to see the locals smile and wave at you as you go around and boat thru the lotuses, the houses and all the bamboo plants. There were even small areas were only boats can come thru, so it’s like usual traffic on the road, but this time on water!
3. Visit Monastery Nga Phe Chaung
After passing thru the bamboo stilts and houses, we came to our first part of the day’s visit, which was the Monastery. Here we were able to fly the drone to see this part of Inle from above. The Monastery is where monks live and practice their faith, and just outside the monastery is a local market where we were you can buy souvenirs and eat something. We were able to buy a set of Burmese traditional clothes for Han.
4. Learning about Silver: Gold and Silver Smith
We had the amazing time of watching how silver is made from the beginning until the final product. These silver products (you’ll need about 98% of silver and 2% of copper to actually make a jewelry), need so much time to make depending on the intricacy of the design and how big the design is. Small fish pendants for necklaces without the chain can cost $20, and bowls with Buddha intricate designs and carvings can cost up to 3,000.
All these products are handmade and some can take up to a month to create. It was really interesting to see how the process works!
5. Meeting Long Neck Women
The Long Neck Women are from the Kayan tribe in Myanmar one of the oldest and smallest tribes of Myanmar. The Long Neck women that you see in Thailand all originated from the Kayan tribe, who left Myanmar during the dark ages.
There are many stories on why Kayan people wear long neck rings. Some say that it keeps them from looking very beautiful, which protected them from human trafficking in the dark ages in Myanmar. According to legend, the highest ruler of the Kayan tribe saw in a dream that the locals will be killed by tigers by biting their necks. So they started wearing the long rings for their necks.
Some say that during one year when the main ruler of the tribe has a lucky daughter on a Wednesday, they gave her a long neck ring for blessing and protection. This is why the members of Kayan tribe always long to have daughters born on a Wednesday.
According to Burmese people, the long neck ring tradition is starting to be removed especially because the government no longer supports women wearing these. Some women still wear them to keep tradition while some wear them to show to tourists, usually as part of heritage tours.
6. Pagoda in the Lake
We definitely didn’t want to miss visiting Pagodas while in Inle Lake. Since Buddhism is a big part of the Burmese culture. When visiting Pagodas, make sure that you are wearing appropriate clothes, especially for women. No sleeveless shirts, and no short pants and short skirts. Also it’s mandatory walk barefoot inside the Pagoda. It’s amazing to see people’s devotion when visiting these pagodas. We visited Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda and it was full of people during that day!
7. Learning about Lotus and Silk
As part of the tour, we visited a lot of the handmade crafts made only in Myanmar. One of them is the creation of Lotus thread. The Lotus thread is only done in Inle Lake, Myanmar and it can take hundreds of lotuses to actually create one thread wheel.
They use Lotus thread to make scarves, clothes, blankets and others, and these cost more than silk threads and silk products since they take so much time to make. We could see the whole process and they explained to us with details how long it takes to make the clothes.
8. Bamboo Souvenirs
Bamboo is very popular in Asia and of course one of the main products they use in Myanmar to create a lot of items for home or even souvenir items.
9. Teak Wood and Cigarettes
They explained to us the process how they make boats. It was quite interesting to know about this. Also you can see how do they make cigars and how fast they do with their hands.
More Things to do in Inle Lake
10. Rent a bicycle to move around
Well it depends where you want to go. I went around Inle Lake with the bicycle it was free of charge staying in Serenity Inle Resort but the distances are so far. Maybe it’s more convenient renting a motorbike and driving around the area looking for local restaurants, visit Pagodas.
11. Hot Air Baloon
The most popular Hot Air Baloon in Myanmar is in Bagan. But there is also Hot Air Baloon in Inle Lake if you want to try this experience I guess it can be awesome. We went in May and the Hot Air Baloon was off season in Inle Lake and Bagan. So just make sure you visit between November and the beginning of April to do this activity.
12. Visit Pagodas Dein Village
Indein is a small village West of Inle Lake known for its market and the ancient pagodas. The village is reached by boat 8 kilometers boat ride from Inle Lake and you can book tickets in your hotel or with a tour Agency. The ancient pagodas in many shapes and sizes and in various states of preservation are so popular and many tourists are visiting. It’s opened from 8 am to 6 pm.
13. Trekking to Kalaw
It can be an amazing experience to add to your Myanmar trip a trekking to Kalaw from Inle Lake. The trekking last 3 days from Inle Lake to Kalaw or viceversa. If you don’t feel like trekking so long or you dont have time you can go by bus or train and trekking around the are for the day or two days. Prices are around $20 USD per day and it will include guide, food and accommodation. The trekking is easy to do it and not very difficult as Mount Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia.
What to eat in Inle Lake and Food to try in Inle Lake
You can find local options since fish from the lake, to seasonal fruits, shan noodle, mohinga, shan rice style, also typical Burmese curries. And of course you can find Western options like pasta, pizza and burger. You will find almost every local places tea and vegetables that they offer free of charge with your meal.
Fish from Inle Lake
Being close to the lake the most common food that you can find is fish. There are many ways to cook the fish. Burmese cuisine usually mixed curry flavor with fish.
Noodle fish soup served usually for breakfast with chicken peas, crisp fried fritters, garlic, onions, fish paste, ginger.
Ohn No Khauk Swe
It’s usually served for breakfast the dish with wheat noodles with curry chicken and coconut flavor soup. It was so delicious and we ate daily.
Burmese people drink tea anytime so you also have to try tea in Inle Lake.
Western Food in Inle Lake
Apart from local food in Inle Lake you can always find Western food like pizza, burguer and salads.
Where to Stay in Inle Lake
We decided to enjoy near the lake far from Nyaung Shwe. We stayed at Serenity Inle Resort. We totally recommend you to do it. It’s little bit more expensive than sleeping in the town. But you will find a peaceful place with views to the lake. Everything was great and we were riding a boat from the resort to see around the lake. We loved it enjoying sunrise and sunset around the lake and we had amazing time disconnecting enjoying time for ourselves. Check the pictures below!
The place was very picturesque as you can see in the picture. You can check here their rates and availability!
If you decide to stay around Nyaung Shwe area will be very convenient since is close to the bus station. The lake will be a few minutes walking distance. You can book a tour in your hotel or hostel to visit around Inle Lake. You can find accommodation prices starting from $15-20 USD in a local guesthouse depending on how much you want to stretch your budget. Luxury hotels in Inle Lake can cost $50-300 USD for a room if you wish more comfort when Inle Lake.
Festivals in Inle Lake
Phaung Daw Oo festival
Phaung Daw Oo festival is celebrated around 29th of September to 16th of October. The sacred Buddha images will be transported between villages on a royal barge and towed by leg-rowers around the lake.
Hope you liked it our Inle Lake travel guide and our favorite things to do in Inle Lake. Feel free to share with your friends if they are traveling to Myanmar!
You can also try AirBnB in Inle Lake with prices starting from $20 USD. Click here to get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB!
Travel Tip: Click here to know prices and schedule to book your bus/boat tickets online in Myanmar with 12Go Asia.
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