The most expected experience that visitors want to get while staying in Inle Lake is capturing its wonderful landscape. There are 3 seasons in Myanmar: cold season (November – next February), hot season (March – May) and rain season (June – October). However, the weather is always comfortable no matter what season.
How to get to Inle Lake
The first one is booking a plane ticket to Myanmar, stopping in Yangon and then transfering to Inle Lake by the night bus. You can choose famous and reputable car brands such as JJ Express, Shwe Nan Taw Express, Elite Express.
Renting a boat to Inle Lake is also a great ideal. The ticket price for the boat ride is only around 6500 kyats.
When you get here, you should hire a boat to explore the beauty of Inle Lake. The cost of hiring boat is not too expensive, around 15.000 Kyats ($9.93). A boat can carry 5 people maximum. There are 2 umbrellas on the boat for travelers in case that it starts raining or the sun is too hot.
Life on Lake
Tomato tree is the most popular tree of the Inthar. This is considered as a specialty of Inle. As the Myanmar always says “If you visit Inle Lake without having tomato salad, then you never be here”.
Our boat crept through floating tomatoes lines growing over a meter in high, and occasionally, we see white, pink and purple chrysanthemums which are planted into a long narrow line. Looking behind the raft, there are leaf huts, making the scenery more romantic and peaceful in the middle of an immense blue river.
Next to cultivation, Inthar people go fishing for living. Their main rations are vegetable and sea-food. All visitors, especially photographers are surprised at the way the Inthar catching fishes. The men row a boat by one leg while they use the other leg to catch fishes by keeping a fishnet cage. They will beat the paddle into water in order that fishes will be driven toward the position of the cages. That strange-but-unique image has become a typical cultural feature of the Inthar people.
This traditional fishing method is safe for ecosystem of the Inle Lake. Fishermen usually catch fishes in the early morning. Visitors can enjoy a beautiful landscape here. The mist spreads up from the water combining with the light of breaking dawn which makes the landscape like a beautiful watercolors painting.
Some fisherman finds some area with nice sunlight around the lake to take performance of fishing for travelers to take photos. Then, tourists pay them a little for their performance. If you visit Inle Lake, don’t miss this show. You will feel like you are watching fishermen dancing ballet on the lake. Women don’t row like men, they sit on the inside of the boat and paddle their arms. Boats filled with grass, mop, food crept between floating lands, where people planted floating gardens on the lake. The wooden houses, the verandah, hanging with colorful flower baskets, look so fragile but steady among the water and the sky.
Although life is still hard, but the Inthar people are very fond and attached to the Inle Lake area. This is the place where all cultural activities and production of the people take place. The largest festival of this region usually takes place in September every year. The peaceful beauty of Inle Lake is also felt on every quiet summer night, when you can hear the singing, echoing from the fishermen who are fishing at night or from the lovely couples dating on the romantic lake.
Every Inthar woman in marriageable age receives a floating raft from her parent. It is regarded as marriage portion. With rafts, their daughter and her husband can live in every area around the lake. They also need rafts to cultivate for making a living.
Tourists can look at wooden houses which are like stilt houses on the water. These houses are decorated by faded wood colored in blue, red, yellow and flower pots.
The transport of Inle residence is boat. People go to the market, temples by boat. The temples around Inle Lake are located on land, near the lake. All of them have their own ancient beauty and seem to be forgotten.
There are 17 villages around Inle Lake which are famous for traditional handicraft, such as silver products, lotus silk weaving, paper making, copper/ iron foundry. Among those highlights, the Kayan ethnic women, where the female wear heavy copper necklaces to lengthen their neck, are the most famous ethnic minority. Moreover, there are numerous minorities such as Shan people, Pa-O, Danu, Barma. The majority of the people are Buddhist and self-sufficient. A small part of residents makes a living by tourism, and it makes Inle become a good tourist environment, full of services but still retain the cultural identity of the region.
On the other hand, it would be nice if you can catch sights of the local floating markets which rotate over a 5-day period and its locations are normally changed each time.
Here is another suggestion for you. When you come back to the shore, let’s experience the local people’s life by riding a bike around Nyaungshwe. Lying close to the town, on the direction to Shwenyaung, the famous Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung temple with its teak oval window panes and the images of young monks in dark red robes skimmed through the doorway, has become a special highlight of Inle. Monks as well as other monasteries are always welcoming and friendly to visitors, but you should not bother them during the lessons.
Nyaung Shwe is really a gate to Inle Lake, where you find the special features in the lives of the Intha, Shan before boarding your boat to start a journey full of sunshine and wind. You should also check in Shwe Yan Bye abbey and taste wine on the mountain. Besides, you can visit a big temple called Phaung Daw Oo or few other attractions. This would be unforgettable experiences.
Hotel and Services
If you don’t want to stay in a motel, you can choose a hotel right next to the station. With a distance of only 500 meters, there are many clean and comfortable hotels. More than that, the prices of these hotels are not too expensive, ranging from 20 to 25 USD / double room / night, which also include breakfast.
One thing you need to keep in mind is that there are resorts providing rooms on the lake, bit the price of these rooms is quite expensive, ranging from 45 USD / room / night.
The people here are mostly Shan people, so the dishes here are also bold with the indigenous characteristics. You can enjoy these delicious dishes at restaurants located on the lake or inside the town of Nyaung Shwe. Some of the special dishes that you can choose here are chicken sauce, sweet and sour soup, soup and curry soup, ….