Visiting amazing Inle Lake – Myanmar - a one day tour and all you need to know before you go!
In the north east of Myanmar lies the country's second largest lake: Inle!
Inle Lake with it's floating villages and beautiful floating gardens is a magnificent place to visit. The way of life of the local Intha people, with their living communities based entirely on the water is unique. In villages and towns across the lake, wooden houses are built on stilts and fishermen steer their one-man boats with a characteristic rowing style. For planning your perfect day on Inle Lake ready my post: Things to do and all the must see places!
Where is Inle Lake?
The lake is beautifully set in a valley between two mountain ranges and measures 22 km long by 10 km wide. You will find picturesque Inle Lake in western Shan State.
I arrived to the lake at noon. Beautifully prepared lunch was waiting for us in a house on the lake. At first I didn't even realize that we had already arrived to Inle Lake. We hiked from Kalaw to Inle (post will be up soon), and my first contact with the lake was from a little town called Tongle in the north west part of the lake.
Most travelers though, will arrive to the city of Nyaungshwe when visiting the area. Nyaungshwe is the main access point to Inle Lake and is located at the northern end of the lake. The city has become a travellers' centre, with dozens of guesthouses and hotels, restaurants, a few bars and a pleasantly relaxed vibe.
How to get to Inle Lake
There are several options for getting to Inle Lake:
closest airport: Heho Airport (HEH)
If you are traveling from any of the other major cities such as Yangon, Bagan, Ngapali or Mandalay, flying into Heho airport is the easiest way for accessing the area. There are direct flights from all the above destinations. A one way flight will cost between 90 USD and 120 USD. From Heho airport you can take a taxi for about 15'000 – 20'000 kyat (12 $ - 16 $) to your hotel in Nyaungshwe. If you are staying in one of the lake hotels it could be a bit more expensive as they are further away. Ideally get in contact with your accommodation beforehand, so they can arrange the pickup for you.
Bus connections between major cities are getting more and more comfortable and reliable. There are daily departures from and to Nyaungshwe to all bigger cities. Make sure to get the VIP bus. They are spacious and comfortable. (price range 15 – 25 USD → go for the most expensive one!) Myanmar Bus
by taxi / private car A good option, especially if you are not traveling from too far away, or if there are several people in your party. If you are traveling with a driver (which is a great option for traveling in Myanmar → check outTony's website, he was my driver for part of the trip and I can highly recommend him) make sure to include Inle Lake into your itinerary. People in Myanmar are incredibly kind, helpful and very service oriented. Wherever you are staying the hotel personnel will help you arrange your ride. You can either do it upon arrival or simply e-mail your accommodation beforehand in order to ask for an estimate.
MY PERSONAL CHOICE Trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake
The most unique and extraordinary experience I have had during my two weeks in Burma. You can start a two or three day trekking from the city of Kalaw to Inle Lake. What an amazing experience!! (Blogpost to come) There are lots of trekking companies in Kalaw offering two or three day hikes to Inle. I did the hike with Ko Min's trekking services and I can only recommend this company. It is currently the only company that does a different hiking route, which means you won't see other tourists! Find out more --> Ko Min Kalaw Trekking
Where to stay when visiting Inle Lake
The lake is big (estimated surface area of 44.9 square miles (116 km2) so figuring out where to stay is key. As already mentioned Nyaungshwe is your safest bet. Depending on your preference and budget you can chose between Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels.
You can also stay on the lake in one of the Lake Hotels (which are usually Bungalows and look just like the ones you will see in the Maldives, only that here you can't jump straight into crystal clear blue waters...) Be aware that if you do chose to stay on a lake hotel you will have to take a taxi if you want to get to the city of Nyaungshwe. Unless you eat at your accommodation (at slightly overpriced prices) you will be forced to take a taxi to the city. Also if you need to purchase water, snacks etc.
I stayed at the Hotel Emperor. The Hotel Emperor is conveniently located in the city center just a few steps away from the boat pier. The hotel has a nice terrace from where you can enjoy a beautiful sunset. Breakfast is served on the rooftop as well. Price – value is definitely great and I would recommend it to anybody who is not looking for a 5 Star Hotel --> Hotel Emperor Website
View from the rooftop of the Hotel Emperor
The village Nyaungshwe
Things to do around Inle Lake
The main attraction when visiting the area is spending a day on the Lake. To find out more about a day on the lake read my blogpost: Things to do and all the must see places! Plan your perfect day!
Nyaungshwe is a little city. Therefore exploring it by bicycle is interesting and fun. Drive around the streets, stop at the market or drive up to Red Mountain Estate and Vineyards. It is a popular spot for a late afternoon. Enjoy a glass of wine and watch the sun set behind the mountains surrounding the lake.