To save money, I choose to go by cab with the price of 20,000 kyat while it costs twice for taxi. It is slower to move by cab but the advantages are that it is convenient to enjoy the fresh wind in the mountainous region and you will have a chance to enjoy yourself in the life of the locals there. The path from Heho airport to Inle Lake Burma is about 30 km with some winding sections around mountains; some smooth ones passing the newly planted rice fields.
Roads in Myanmar are covered with green trees. The Burma often raise white cows for pulling and making soil in agriculture, so it is common to see the groups of cows on the streets. After more than 1 hour, the cab stops at permit booth on the way to Inle to buy ticket ($4/ person). It then moves into the area of Nyangshwe which is considered the down town of Inle where backpack tourists often come and stay in the cheap accommodations to visit Inle Lake.
As we stayed in a resort nearby Inle Lake, the cab dropped us at the wharf, from where, we caught a boat at the price of 8,000 kyat to go to the resort. I intended to ask some other people who also wanted to visit Inle Lake to share the boat fare but I was not allowed as each boat is prescribed to carry less than 5 people. Before coming to the lake, I reminded the cab driver who took us here the time to bring us back to the airport. Otherwise, catching one from the resort or Nyangshwe is always more expensive.
Inle Lake Burma connects to Nyangshwe by a large canal which is considered the main traffic artery to Inle Lake and also a mean to transport water from the lake to the regional fields. This canal is always crowded with boats and ships carrying fishes, shrimps, tomatoes, vegetables and so on from the nearby lake villages to Nyangshwe and foods and commodities out from Nyangshwe. It is really a large and deep lake with the two shores crowded with houses.
It took us around 20 minute on a small boat to move to our resort. The small wooden boat with a long and narrow body and the head higher runs smoothly and fast which made us very interested. Our driver called Aiw, is an Inthar and lives right in the Inle area. We also hired him to drive us to visit the lake the whole of the following day with the price of 20,000 kyat.
Inle Resort is situated next to the beautiful Inle Lake Burma. The resort is the complex of many bungalows on the lake, mirroring into the quiet water of Inle which is as pretty as a painting. Myanmar is a country rich of woods, so this resort is all made of woods including wood floor, wood doors, wood restroom, ect., which are all very sophisticated and friendly to the nature.
In Inle resort, there is no shop or restaurant in the surrounding areas. Thus, all the meals are served right at the restaurant of the resort and are quite expensive. However, quality of the foods there are good and if you can choose some cheap dishes for your meals, it may take you around $10 or a little more each time. At the same time, you will be sitting in a luxury restaurant with very eye-catching views.
We spent the next whole day visiting Inle Lake Burma. The boat driver led us to see the Inthar driving wherry by one foot to catch fish. We then visit the five-day market in a small village nearby the lake and come to visit the floating gardens where the people living on the lake plant a lot of tomatoes.
With the acreage of nearly 250 km square, Inle Lake is the second largest but the most beautiful lake in Myanmar. In my opinion, it is the best lake in Southeast Asia. It is surrounded with mountain, small villages with floating houses, sacred temples and pagodas and a number of floating tomato gardens. Tomatoes here are planted on the water as the people pick the algae up from the lake floor to serve as soil for planting. The tomato is small but round, sweet and tasty. This is the largest potato granary in Burma and the potatoes here are distributed to almost other places of Burma. Tomatoes here are real organic as they are not raised with chemistry pesticides or organic fertilizers. It is the same for fish and shrimp in the lake, so they taste really good.
Sitting on a boat visiting Inle lake, we will have the feeling of floating in the paradise which I have never had anywhere else I’ve been to. Inle lake is not in a gorgeous beauty that makes you shout out loud when you first see it, but by the time living with it, you shall be fascinated and will not want to leave it. The lake is not infinite but is decorated with the green grass dunes, the stilt houses mirrored into water, the smithy, the handicrafts workshops, umbrella making workshops, silver workshop or weaving from fibers of lotus leaves. Somewhere on the lake, restaurants appear with very nice and romantic views.
We were really lucky that the driver drove us to his house to discover their daily lives. It is interesting that everything is clean and well organized inside the house. We had chance to witness cigarette making as his aunt and some other family members produce cigarettes to sell in the border area between Thailand and Burma.
It’s my luck to enjoy the beauty of Inle Lake at many different types of weather. When I came there, it’s sometimes sunny, sometimes rainy. The sky was grey for a moment and bright with white cloud for other times. At different time, Inle bears its different beauty. It is gorgeous and lovely in sunshine; dreamy under cloudy weather with some drops of rain. The peaceful immense lake together with unique way of rowing fishing boats and the typical hat of the Burmese have all create a perfect tourism product which can only be seen Inle Lake Burma.
Each village in the Inle lakeside area is bearing its own beauty and distinctions. The affluent villages include spacious houses which are nicely painted. Some other villages are poorer with the cottages hidden behind the green grass dunes, the fruitful potato gardens. Far away, deeply green hill-sand mountains cover, creating a great picture retaining visitors.
In my opinion, the reason that the pristine beauty of Inle Lake has been preserved until now is the local people. The majority of people here are Intha, so they know how to protect their motherland. They do not fully exploit their natural resources but save them and protect the environment carefully. Despite the crowd of houses in the lakeside villages, it is uncommon to see any garbage like nylon bags or plastic bottles floating on the water like some other floating market. The waste from their toilet is not released directly to the lake but is transported to the hydraulic cellar. In addition, the people here are also as friendly as those that I met during the trip to Burma. I received their friendly smiles every time, and whenever I raised the camera to take photos, they waved their hands and smiled merrily.
Inle Lake Burma is more romantic and pretty in the sunset. At that time, it is a bit cold; the water is quiet and peaceful; the fragrant of grass floats in the air that cause people to be fascinated. The sunshine has gone, leaving rooms for the last lays of the sun creeping through the cloud, generating a pink sky on the smooth mirror of the lake. It is impossible to describe all the feelings at the transferring moment between day and night on Inle Lake. In that moment, I could do nothing but drop my soul to the cloud floating in the sky.
We left Inle at the early morning to move to Heho Airport, so we can be back to Yagon right at that evening. The dawn in Inle is crazy nice with the new sun lights surf on the peaceful water. Sitting on the boat to Nangshwe, we really did not want to leave that attractive Inle. Anyway, with big love to it, we promised to come back to Myanmar.
Some small tips to visit Inle Lake Burma:
- There are many way to come to Inle. You can go by car, motorbike or airplane from Mandalay, Yagon or Bagan. Heho is the airport to Inle.
- You can stay in a motel in Vyangshwe village at a cheap price of about more than $10/day and hire boat to visit the lake. However, I think that you should try to experience some nights at the lakeside resort.
- Try to visit as much as possible to the villages in Inle as each of them carries its own specialties.
- Don’t miss to see the sunset on Inle Lake
- It’s sunny when rowing on the lake, so remember to use sunblock cream to avoid sunburn.
- If you stay in the lakeside resort, bring some foods to save money as it is quite expensive to have meal at restaurant of the resort.
- The resort does not accept credit card, so you must prepare enough cash
- Yagon international airport does not require $10 to enter like some forums mentioned. Thus, you can spend all of your money for the trip without save that amount as provision.