Inle Lake is a freshwater lake which is probably the most magical place of Myanmar. It is located in the Nyaungshwe Township of Taunggyi District of Shan State, part of Shan Hills in Myanmar. It is one of the highest and the second largest lakes of Myanmar. There are more than twenty species of snails and nine species of fish that can be found here which cannot be found in any part of the earth, such as silver-blue scaleless Sawbwa barb, crossbanded dwarf danio, and Lake Inle danio. It is a good idea to see such water creatures when you visit the Inle Lake, since they can only be found here.
Aside from these water creatures, Inle Lake is so natural and unpolluted, which is popular for its scenic beauty and the unique leg-rowing of the Inthas (people of Inle Lake), the native lake-dwellers. Furthermore, floating villages, colorful daily floating market, and Inle Spa are some of the places worthy of visit. October is one of the best months to visit the Inle Lake for it is the time where the festival of Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda is held. This festival is full of pageantry and colorful splendor.
Don’t think that going to Inle Lake would be boring. Actually there are lots of things to do during your stay in Inle Lake. Some of the things that you will enjoy doing here are:
Things to do while in Inle Lake:
Boat Trip – a boat trip on the lake is a must do. However, this may take time, because you will be visiting at least 6 workshops on a half-day tour and will increase when your tour is longer. But you will surely enjoy this trip. Day tours are available for only the top half of the lake but you may also include the south part of the lake which is recommended. Most of these workshops are only set up for tourists. This is also your chance to buy really nice handcrafted souvenirs. One that is worth a purchase is where they make handmade cigars which is made from tobacco, honey, rice flour, tamarind, banana, and anise. You will be paying mostly for the cigar box which is about 10,000 kyat but is a good way to bring back a nice souvenir of 30 handmade cigars. Other shops that are fun to visit are clothing, silverware and jewelry, and lacquerware and tobacco.
Bike Ride – take a day to visit the surrounding villages and this is nice to do on a bike ride. Just check your rental bike carefully before leaving.
Hot Springs – if you want to relax during afternoon or after a busy day, you may visit the hot spring to unwind. Rent a bike and cycle the bumpy road for 45 minutes towards the mountains to get there. It is quite far but it is a very scenic route. The hot springs are actually 3 swimming pools in a big concrete spa center. Access for the private pools cost $8 per person, towel included.
Hike – whether you like hiking or not, you should not miss hiking in the surrounding hills that takes a day or the 3 days hike to Kalaw. Since this is hiking, expects that it can be very exhausting so be prepared and know the proper suits and foot wear and bring some foods and lots of water and of course emergency kit. Hiking is tiring but you will have a chance to get s glimpse of real life around Inle Lake and see some nice scenery too.
Red Mountain Winery – It is nice to visit this place on during afternoon because it is great for sunset views. Again you could rent a bike and cycle about 3km outside of town to visit this winery. There is free Wi-Fi available in the place as well as a full restaurant menu of local and western specialties. You could also enjoy wine tasting that cost 2,000 kyat for 4 different types of wine, which are good. If you’re in this place, have the opportunity of trying the traditional Burmese massage at the Phyu Phyu’s Bamboo Hut. They could also book you with boat trips, canoes or trekking and they will guide you.
Stand Up Paddling (SUP) – It is also fun to try how to paddle the Inle-style. You can try it by your hand or even feet. They will teach you the stroke, balance, and navigation required to paddle your boat.
Aside from those things that you can do on your visit to Inle Lake, of course foods will not be out of sight and trying new foods are always exciting. There are many restaurants in the town that serve good local and foreign foods. According to others, one of the best restaurants in town is the Golden Kite. They serve pasta and wood-oven pizza which is personally made by its owner. Their chocolate cashew pancake is also excellent. If you like to try traditional Burmese dishes, or Chinese and pasta dishes, you can go to Aurora Restaurant. Their handmade noodles are worth a try. If you like purely pancakes, you can go to Pancake Kingdom. They serve good western pancakes with lots of options, both savory and sweet. One local food that is nice to try is the freshly made Shan Tofu Salads that is available in the market area. Across the market, there are also some other local restaurants that offer good foods including Shan noodle soups, tea leaf salads (lepet thoke), ginger mix (gin thoke), etc.