Inle lake (also known as Innle, Inlay or Innlay lake) certainly belongs to the top attractions of Burma (Myanmar). Make sure to put it on your Burma travel site list during your travel planning.
Most people stay in Nyaungshwe during their stay at Inle lake. If you’re willing to spend 50 US dollars or more per night, stay in one of the resorts fully constructed on poles near the shores of the lake. With people I met on a night bus I shared a boat for a full day tour on Inle lake. Here is my photo-story:
I got up early as I read, that the markets – actually anywhere in Burma – are best to be visited in early morning. Here’s the best picture, I made, of the Nyaungshwe market:
On the way to our first stop I made several pictures of the famous fishermen rowing with their legs instead of the arms. The lake at some points is extensively covered with floating plants. The farmers of the floating gardens – my guess – harvest plant material as fertiliser for their floating gardens. On the lake there are villages, completely constructed on poles, reachable only by boat:
At the shores of Inle lake there are 5 day markets. This means, there are 5 different locations and every day the market is at one of those. The Nan Pan market is the biggest one with a massive amount of tourist-focussed souvenir sellers and was – due to the rainy season – rather a mud party than a market:
We were visiting many, actually too many, production places of which I only mention some here. Seeing a manually operated weaving loom was interesting. Here’s a video:
We had the luck to stop for lunch at the Burmese cat house. It is aimed at preserving the Burmese cats from extinction in Burma by breeding them there. The lunch – by the way – was delicious and in the mid price range:
The first stop after lunch was a blacksmith manufactory. Their work-style is impressive:
On we went to visit the Phaung Daw Oo Paya, which has some strange gold leaf covered balls inside instead of a Buddha. But the Buddhas are there, just fully covered by gold, and I couldn’t resist to personally make the cover a little thicker. Applying gold leafs on Buddhas is only allowed to men in entire Burma:
On our last stop we went to the jumping cats monastery, perhaps the most famous place of Inle lake. Taking snapshots at the right moment proved difficult, so I made a video instead. Watching out of one side of the monastery, I was able to make a good picture of a floating garden. If I got that right, they fix a bamboo raft with sticks – the lake is shallow – put some plant material on top as a fertiliser and then grow vegetables:
On the way back, while sunset was nearing, I made an impressive Inle lake picture and a picture of a Paya in Nyaungshwe just near the boat landing place:
Where to book your tours: If you don’t do it at your guest house, consider to do it at this travel office on the busy road near the market. The owner lady speaks good English: Thu Thu travel agency, Yone Gyi Road (near the market), phone +95 (0)81-209 258, mobile 09 4100 3892, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to stay
Mingalar Inn, phone +95 (0)81-209 198, mobile 09-521 6278, email@example.com, www.mingalarinn.multiply.com – Their breakfast is the best I ever had in Burma: One egg any style with toast or rice, some local pastry plus – if you like – a pancake and, of course, tea or coffee. The owner lady speaks excellent English. On the downside they have a problem with mosquitoes inside the rooms during rainy season as the windows have too many gaps, where they can get in. Their solution is to just apply spray every evening.
May Guest House, 85 Myawaddy Road, phone +95 (0)81 209 417 – The rooms are nice without mosquitoes and breakfast is ok. But during my two nights stay the manager never bothered to appear and left everything to be done by his staff with limited English.
Remember Inn, Haw St., phone 209 257, rememberinn.jimdo.com – According to a fellow traveller this also is a nice option and they have free wifi (which still is rare in Burma).
How to get there
You can fly to Heho and take an overpriced taxi from there. It is also reachable by train from Thazi, which lies on the Yangon Mandalay line. The easiest option is by bus. There are buses from Yangon, Mandalay, Hsipaw (Lashio) and Bagan. They drop you off at Shwenyaung, from where you can share a taxi to Nyaungshwe with other tourists.