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A Day on the Lake – Inle Lake in Myanmar

Myanmar is a mysterious and unknown country to many of us. Most connect Myanmar with the politician Aung San Suu Kyi who was in house arrest for years and is the face for the “new” Myanmar.

What we don’t know is what the country is like. During a trip in July this year I did a short trip to the country also known as Burma and besides the capital Yangoon in the South and Bagan in the west I also visited the city of Inle at the Inle Lake.

Inle is a little town at the top of the Inle Lake. Not very big and doesn’t offer much but has everything to fulfill the main needs of a traveler. Everything is a bit more expensive than anywhere else in the country since it is so small and manly all tourists stop here to do a trip around the lake. You can find out how much it costs to travel in Myanmar here!

What to do in Inle

Most people would say that the only thing you can do at Inle is to do a lake tour. I’d agree if I wouldn’t have talked to many other fellow travelers who had more time there and told me some pretty great things to do around that area.

First, things first!

Lake Tour

The lake tour is a must do. If you have a little bit of time do a full day tour, if you have a lot of time do a two to three days tour! The tours are very cheap but that is only because the boat drivers get a commission for everything you buy on the lake. The thing is, that the boat tours are a little rip off… they drive you from one workshop to another to show you how good products they produce with the same technique they used years ago… hoping that you buy something!! During a full day tour you will visit about 4-6 workshops creating silverware, clothes, cigars and other stuff… They are very expensive for Burmese prices but still cheap if converted to your local currency!!

The boat driver will pick you up at your ho(s)tel, and take you around the lake. The first two hours you will just drive and stop to see a couple of local Fishermen who are famous for the way they paddle in their boats. The rest of the tour you will, as mentioned, stop at all the workshops and for lunch at a fairly expensive restaurant. Sometimes there are other restaurants around. You can go for a wander and have a look around. They mostly are a little cheaper than the one your driver chose.

Bike Ride

It is not allowed to travel around alone in Myanmar, you need to have a guide to rent a car and explore the country by yourself, but you can rent a bike in the little towns and drive from one town to another. A great way to get out of the “touristy” spots and explore the “real” country! Make sure that you check your bike before you leave… You don’t want to get stuck anywhere on the road!

Hot Springs

There are some hot springs not far from Inle. It’s a very scenic ride but be warned that the pools don’t look that nice but it feels nice to be in them!

Where to stay in Inle

There are many fairly cheap ho(s)tells in Inle.

May Guesthouse, No. 85, Myawaddy Road, NyaungShweVery friendly, clean and comfortable family run hotel. In the middle of many monasteries. US$12.

Remember Inn, (In the north of town). Fairly clean (for being Burma), but old rooms and a lovely rooftop relaxation area. Nice breakfast and they are happy to help with organising flights, boats and hikes. The owner is very nice and helpful. US$5-25.  I stayed at this one and we had a great time!!

Shwe Inn Tha, Thar Lay Village. Located on the lake itself, quite close to the floating gardens.

Aquarius Inn. Near the lake, very friendly family owned Inn with a fantastic breakfast. US$5-20.

Joy Hotel, Jetty Rd (on canal). Friendly staff, clean, with nice view of busy canal each morning. Less touristy end of town, but still pleasant (close to cheap local restaurants) $5/$10.

How to get to Bagan

There are a couple of ways on how to get to Inle depending on the budget you are on.

Flying

The easiest and fastest way is to fly. All flights in Myanmar circle around and stop at some cities. They all start in Yangoon and stop first in Bagan, next stop is Mandalay and then they continue to Heho (Inle) before returning to Yangoon.

From Heho you need to get to Inle which is about an hour away. The taxis are very expensive and might cost you between 25 000 – 40 000 Kyats. You might get a cheaper cab by walking out of the airport and walking down the street. The further you walk the cheaper the prices might be…

Bus

A much cheaper option but also less comfortable than a flight is taking a bus to Inle. From Yangoon they will tell you that it takes about 13 hours. Plan with 15-17 to be on the safe site if you need to get a flight or anything of same importance. The price for the bus from Yangoon is about $20. From Bagan you can get with the Bus to Inle in about 7 hours and will cost you between $7-10.

One of the worst bus rides I ever had was between Inle and Yangoon. The buses are old and not big enough for tall people and the streets are old and need a lot of maintenance!

Car

You can travel to Inle by car but it is only allowed with a guide provided by the government. Traveling in Myanmar is still very restricted and the government only opened a couple of cities for tourism.

Have you been to Inle or do you plan to visit it when in Myanmar? Let us know your opinion in the comments blow!

 

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32 comments on “A Day on the Lake – Inle Lake in Myanmar

  1. Steve on

    We just got back from Myanmar and Inle Lake was a definite highlight, but you’re right about the number of commission-based stops on the boat tours being a bit excessive.

    Reply
  2. Sherry on

    You’re so detailed here. This is a country that I’m not too sure of, but having read you post, I am intrigued. I love “off-the-path” kind of places. The fishing looks incredible.

    Reply
  3. Agness on

    Great article Seba! We are planning to go to Mayanmar in November so we will definitely hit this place. Is it difficult to get tourist visa to travel in Mayanmar when applying in Bangkok? Thanks a lot!

    Reply
  4. Abby on

    Oh wow. I read a book on Myanmar YEARS ago and have been fascinated by all of the changes it’s been going through ever since. To actually go seems like a dream! Great photos.

    Reply
  5. Jo on

    Hi, I’m going to Burma in January and will also visit Inle Lake. This post was helpful, especially when it comes to the day trips around the lake.
    Thanks for posting the details for the hostels, too!
    I hope I’ll be able to post some photos when I’m there.

    Reply
  6. erythnul on

    Really gorgeous photos! I wish that we will be able to make Myanmar on our trip. We are planning to go to Mayanmar in july so we will definitely hit this place.

    Reply
  7. Young Aubrey on

    Awesome pictures. This article is very interesting and detailed. We were planning a family get together, now after reading this article I think I may consider a get together there.

    Reply
  8. Amber on

    There’s also a winery. And prices have increased since you were there. Buses have almost doubled, but you get the same great “service”

    Reply
  9. Alissa on

    Great post, we had a similar experience. I thought the souvenir vendors at the temples were more annoying that the workshop sales people. We managed to make it the whole day only buying a few sweet cigars

    Reply
  10. Harris Hailey on

    The pictures posted here are awesome. i really loved them. I am looking forward to a trip to this place, but some how I am unable to make it. Now after seeing these pictures, I really would love to visit this place.

    Reply
  11. Lillian on

    Beautifully captured pictures of the lake,fishermen sailing boat and the fresh green mountains in the background!I live in the tropical rainforest regions of India,close to Myanmar and have frequently been in jungles for leisure.It is the best way of recreation by dislodging the stress and tensions of our day-to-day life.I am elated by the picture of a hut built in the water of the lake and found that idea very exciting.Now Inle lake is definitely on the top of my list for touring.

    Reply
  12. Jenna Clown on

    I am a student of Tourism in the University of San Francisco and presently working for an assignment on ‘Lakes of North-eastern Asia’.There are innumerable number of beautiful lakes in Asia but very few of them allure the visitors from tourism point of view.This Inle lake in Myanmar has the advantage of scenic mountains,placid atmosphere,fresh green lush around along with the facility of sailing and house boats to attract tourists.I am lucky to find this post at the correct time and am sure it will please my tutors.I hope to be awarded with good grades by them.I will include some description and the pictures above in my final presentation too.

    Reply
  13. Lillian bizzle on

    I am highly elated to learn about this place called Lake Inle in Myanmar which was quite unknown,unprecedented and unheard from tourists.I guess Myanmar government should make efforts to persuade tourists by more advertising,offering exclusive discounts in travel and lodging cost,some alluring perks in form of special offers to entice visitors and most importantly publicizing on social networking sites.Once the tourist tastes the beauty and solace of this place,he can never stop himself coming over again and again.

    Reply
  14. Wilson Nicole on

    I never knew that there were so many places of tourist attraction in Myanmar. Everybody knows very little about this country and hence not appreciated for its worth. I have never though of a trip to Myanmar, as I was of the opinion that there wasn’t much there to see. I think the country’s government should take measures to encourage tourists. The pictures posted here are lovely.

    Reply
  15. Bryant Mariah on

    Lovely pictures. I had indeed been to Lake Inle last year. I loved the experience. It was a total recreation for me and my family. We had a lovely and unforgettable time there. I am looking forward to visit this place again in future.

    Reply
  16. aubrey mommyrust on

    I had always perceived Myanmar, situated in the north east of Asia, as a very isolated and ignored country. It is known for having a large followers of Buddhisam.But this hidden beauty,large and green mountains, scenic lakes in Myanmar is a grand revelation for me. Inke lake particularly is a treat to eye balls.I loved the pictures and found myself mesmerized with it.

    Reply