Hailed as the second biggest in Myanmar, the Inle Lake is a freshwater lake in Nyaungshwe Township, Taunggyi District, Shan State that flows through Nam Pilu (Balu Chaung) on the south. Visitors will find a hot spring on the lake’s northwestern part and a lot of endemic species on the waters.
The Intha, people of the Inle Lake, dwell in the four surrounding cities, many small villages and even on the waters itself. Most of the Inthas are self-sufficient peasants living in houses made of woven bamboo and wood. Many of them are devout Buddhists as well. Fishing and creating hand-made products are also sources of income for the people in the communities around the lake.
When to Visit
According to tourists and the locals, it is ideal to visit the destination around September and October because the world-renowned festivals take place during these months. The Hpaung Daw U lasts for around three weeks and this is followed by the Thadingyut Festival of Lights. The Shan and Inthas wear their best clothes to celebrate the special occasion. The day is filled with various fun and exciting activities like traditional boat racing, silk weaving and many others.
Explore Shan and Inle Food
Aside from the celebrations, the area is also popular for its cuisine. Shan and Inle cuisines differ from each other. The latter combines local produce in its cooking and the most popular dish is the Htamin jin which is a tomato, rice and potato (or fish) salad made into balls, dressed and garnished with different condiments such as tamarind sauce, coriander, spring onions, crisp fried onion, garlic and fried dried tofu. You should taste the Intha dishes to make your visit authentic and complete!
Getting Here and Around
Inle Lake has become one of the country’s main tourist attractions in the recent years and this paved the way for the development of some tourist infrastructures such as hotels, tour operations, local shops. To get to the place, the most comfortable and easiest way is through domestic flight.
You can get a taxi and pay 25,000-40,000 Kyats to the Heho Airport, but if you think that the fare is too expensive, the taxi driver can pick up other passengers and split the fare. The best thing to do is to book your taxi in advance because they will charge you just around 15,000 Kyats. Airfares are pegged at around US$75 from Mandalay and US$110 from Yangon.
If you prefer riding the bus, it will be cheaper but a little less comfortable. Daily trips are available and will cost you around US$20 for a 13-hour trip from Yangon, or US$12 for a 7 to 8 hour travel from Mandalay. From Bagan, you can get a bus ride for just US$9 but at a very slow and uncomfortable pace. From Taunggyi, you can ride a pick-up for just US$0.40 for an hour of travel. Upon arriving at the lake, you will pay $5 admission fee and this will increase to $10 starting on October 1, 2013.
You have a number of options in touring the Inle Lake. You can set out on a journey by foot, by riding a bike or by riding the public transportation offered in the area such as exciting boat rides. Remember to take your camera with you because you wouldn’t want to miss the beautiful sceneries and picturesque daily scenes that you will be witnessing in the community.