Nestled in the scenic township of Nyaung Shwe you’ll find one of Myanmar’s most spectacular and adventure laden sites. The stunningly serene yet intensely adventurous Inle Lake. Easily one of Myanmar’s most anticipated destinations, it’s not hard to see why this vast, freshwater lake has quickly gained momentum amid Myanmar’s budding tourism scene.
Measuring in at over 116 square kilometres, Inle Lake is the country’s second largest body of water and easily the most impressive. Enveloped by breath taking scenery, traditional floating villages, flourishing gardens, and sacred temples and littered throughout with locals going about their daily lives, Inle Lake offers visitors a truly unforgettable experience.
The ideal place for water sport enthusiasts and best enjoyed by boat or by kayak, don’t miss the infamous Intha fishermen. Learn about their typical, one legged fishing technique and watch in awe as they head out at dawn against a stunning backdrop for their daily catch. Immerse yourself in culture and be educated by the long necked Padaung women. Unique to Inle, these traditional women live as part of tribes in the region, promising an enlightening and informative meeting.
The region surrounding the lake is home to countless villages and a number of minority settlements to discover and explore by bike or hike. Over 70,000 local people live in Inle, most of them staying in villages and small cities around the lake, and some on the lake itself. The local population mainly consist of Intha, but other ethnicities such as Shan, Pa-O, Danu, Bamar, Kayah and Danaw have settled here. Local people live in simple bamboo and wood stilt houses and mostly own farm land allowing them to be self-sufficient, as well as providing the opportunity to sell local produce at the markets. The villagers frequently come down into Inle to explore the local markets and engage in everyday life.
The top of the regions highest hill is home to Inle’s only vineyard and winery, providing visitors with the perfect spot to enjoy local made wine whilst revelling in the stunning surroundings and soaking up Myanmar’s spectacular sunsets. The perfect end to a busy day on the lake, add this on to a day of hiking the area or take an explorative sunset cycle to the top of the hill.
Mainly serving as a tourist hub for Inle Lake, Nyaung Shwe is home to the area’s best options for accommodation and has plenty of places to eat, drink and shop after a day on the lake. Despite its main purpose, Nyaung Shwe can also hold its own. Littered with stupas, its largest and most impressive being Yadana Manaung Pagoda is well worth a visit for an insight into typical Shan architecture dating back to 1866.
The star of the show, and undoubtedly the reason why this beautiful region has become so popular, Inle Lake is best explored by boat. Day trips are widely available and vary from private boats to small group excursions and even kayaks for the adventurous, often on a long narrow boat with a small motor and a friendly, local guide. Allow yourself plenty of time to explore life on the lake as there is lots to see and do and many adventures to unfold.
Of course, learn about Inle’s infamous Intha fishermen and their unique one-legged fishing technique. Visit the floating markets and gardens to get a feel for how local life works here and meet the people that call Inle Lake home. Meander through endless pagodas and monasteries including Phaung Daw Oo Paya, Inle Lake’s most sacred pagoda. With its impressive five tiers and glittering gold leaf, Phaung Daw Oo Paya promises to impress. Likewise, the Nga Hpe Kyaung, lovingly referred to as the Jumping Cat Monastery is home not only to cats that jump through hoops, but also, to an impressive collection of Buddha images.
Traditional workshops on the floating villages, including lotus flower weaving and cheroot making, offer the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture and learn about life living on the lake.
Apart from all there is to see and do on Inle Lake, this unbelievable place is bound to capture your heart with its one of a kind natural beauty, stunning scenery and endless opportunities for adventure by foot, boat and bicycle.
Located on the east coast of Inle Lake and nestled on top of one of the highest hills, you’ll find the regions very own winery. A fairly new concept, the winery was only built in 2004, but today it is a tourist favourite and makes the perfect destination for a leisurely evening cycle.
Not only does it offer the perfect evening spot for unwinding and sampling locally bottled wine after a busy day, but it also boasts remarkable views overlooking the lake, best enjoyed with a glass in hand whilst getting lost in one of Myanmar’s world class sunsets.
Food and Drink
Naturally, Inle Lake and the surrounding regions are full of mouth-watering, local cuisine. Of course, the flagship dish involving locally caught fish from the lake. Namely, the abundant Inle Carp, often served fried with coriander, or as part of the popular htamin gyin. A delicious ‘fermented’ rice kneaded with fish and potato and served with Shan tofu. Rice and locally grown vegetables are abundant and play a large part in the local diet.