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One Day in…Inle Lake, Myanmar

One Day in…Inle Lake, Myanmar

Traveler Profile

Katie, UK


Inle Lake, Myanmar

Time of Year

Late spring

Travel Goals

Magic, history, adventure, and photography. 

Inle Lake, nestled in the Shan Hills of Myanmar, is a destination of incredible beauty and cultural richness. A day spent here is a journey through tranquil waters, floating villages, traditional crafts, and unique ways of life. This guide will take you through a day at Inle Lake, from an early morning lake trip to a local dinner, each moment unfolding a different element of this extraordinary place.

Boat Trip 

Image credit: Katie Hollamby

Begin your day with an early morning boat trip, a serene experience that captures the essence of Inle Lake. As the mist lifts, you’ll witness the lake’s famous leg-rowing fisherman, silhouetted against the rising sun performing their unique and skillful fishing techniques. The calm waters and the soft light of dawn make for a surreal and peaceful start to your day. 

My Insider’s Tip

Dress warmly for the morning chill and bring a camera to capture the stunning sunrise and the fishermen’s silhouettes. 

Visiting the Floating Gardens and Villages

Image credit: Pexels / Amy Chandra

As the day progresses, explore the lake’s floating gardens and villages. These gardens, anchored by bamboo poles, celebrate the Intha people’s ingenuity, growing an array of vegetables and flowers. The stilted villages, with houses built over the water, showcase a unique adaptation to life on the lake. Visiting these communities offers insight into the daily lives of the local people. My Insider’s Tip

Respect the privacy of the locals; always ask permission before taking photos. 

Lunch at a Local Restaurant

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Aleksandra Suzi

For lunch, stop at one of the lake’s many floating restaurants. These establishments offer traditional Burmese and Intha dishes, often featuring freshly caught fish from the lake. Dining here provides a taste of local cuisine and offers picturesque views of the lake and its surroundings. 

My Insider’s Tip

Try the local specialty – Inle fish curry, known for its unique flavors and fresh ingredients. 

Afternoon Visit to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda and Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sompol

In the afternoon, visit the revered Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, home to five gold-leaf-covered Buddha statues. The pagoda is a center of religious life on the lake. Nearby, the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, known as the Jumping Cat Monastery, is famous for its collection of ancient Buddha images and, historically, for cats trained to jump through hoops. 

My Insider’s Tip

Dress modestly and remove your shoes before entering these sacred sites. 

Exploring Traditional Crafts – Lotus Weaving and Cigar Making

Image Credit: Pexels / Los Muertos Crew

Inle Lake is renowned for its traditional crafts. Visit a lotus weaving workshop to see how fibers from the lotus plant are turned into high-quality textiles. Also, explore a local cheroot (Burmese cigar) workshop, where skilled artisans roll cigars by hand, a tradition in Myanmar. 

My Insider’s Tip

Purchase textiles or cigars as unique souvenirs, directly supporting local artisans. 

Sunset Canoe Ride

Image credit: Pexels / Tony Wu

As the day wanes, ride a traditional canoe through the narrower waterways. This quieter, more intimate experience allows you to see the lake from a different perspective. The gentle paddling, the sound of water, and the changing colors of the sunset sky create a tranquil and reflective atmosphere. 

Insider’s Tip

Bring a light jacket as it can get cooler on the lake in the evening. 

Dinner at a Lakeside Restaurant

Image Credit: Pexels / Ksenia Chernaya

Conclude your day with dinner at a lakeside restaurant, where you can enjoy local cuisine while overlooking the tranquil waters of Inle Lake. Many restaurants offer dishes made with fresh lake fish and locally grown produce, providing a delicious end to your day’s exploration. 

My Insider’s Tip

Try a traditional Shan-style rice dish known for its unique flavors and textures. 

When to Travel

Image Credit: Pexels / Alexey Komissarov

The optimal time to visit Lake Inle is during the dry season, from October to March. During these months, the weather is more favorable with less rainfall, making it ideal for exploring the lake and its surroundings. The temperatures are cooler, especially in the mornings and evenings, enhancing the comfort of your visit.

How to Get There

Image Credit: Pexels / edusma7256

The primary access point to Lake Inle is through the town of Nyaung Shwe, which serves as the gateway to the lake. The nearest airport to Nyaung Shwe is Heho Airport, located about an hour’s drive away. Heho Airport is well-connected with domestic flights from major cities in Myanmar, such as Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan. From Heho Airport, you can take a taxi or arrange a transfer through your hotel to reach Nyaung Shwe. Once in Nyaung Shwe, you can hire boats to explore Lake Inle and its unique attractions. Many hotels and guesthouses around the lake also offer boat tours and can assist with arranging transportation to various sites on and around the lake.

A Brief History 

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Brad Fish

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has a rich and complex history that dates back thousands of years. The region’s earliest civilizations emerged in the first century AD, with the Pyu city-states in Upper Burma and the Mon kingdoms in Lower Burma. By the 9th century, the Bamar people had migrated from the north, laying the foundation for the Pagan Empire, which flourished between the 11th and 13th centuries and is renowned for constructing thousands of Buddhist temples at Bagan. Following the fall of Pagan, the region was divided until the mid-16th century when the Taungoo Dynasty succeeded in unifying the territories, creating the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia. 

The 19th century saw the gradual annexation of Burma by the British following three Anglo-Burmese Wars, leading to nearly a century of colonial rule. Burma gained independence from British rule in 1948 but has since experienced periods of internal conflict, military rule, and political instability. The country officially changed its name to Myanmar in 1989, a year marked by major political upheavals. The 21st century has seen attempts at political and economic reform, although the journey toward democracy has been fraught with challenges, including ethnic tensions and human rights issues, most notably the Rohingya crisis. The rich tapestry of Myanmar’s history is reflected in its diverse cultures, languages, and religions, contributing to its unique identity in the Southeast Asian region.

The Bottom Line

A day spent at Inle Lake is an immersion into a world where life moves with the rhythms of the water. From the unique leg-rowing fisherman at dawn to the serene sunset canoe ride, each moment offers a glimpse into the lake’s natural beauty and the enduring traditions of its people. As you explore Inle Lake, embrace the slow pace and let the tranquil waters and vibrant culture wash over you, leaving you with memories of a place where time seems to stand still.

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The post One Day in…Inle Lake, Myanmar first appeared on The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Alexey Komissarov.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

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