After visiting Mandalay and Bagan for the last week, we headed to Inle Lake to see what was supposed to be one of the most picturesque parts of Myanmar. Known for its stunning vistas of the surrounding high mountains and lake, floating villages, iconic rural fisherman who spend the whole day out on the water, it’s the perfect place to avoid the dry, desert heat in the rest of Myanmar.
We were lucky enough to have been over our food poisoning that we got in Bagan, so it made for a great day on the water.
The boat tour starts early in the morning and immediately goes to the glassy, morning waters of the open lake. It’s a perfect way to wake up with the water flowing by and the sound of the motor running behind you. You’ll pass a few silhouetted fisherman off in the distance. A few fish swim to the surface and dive away quickly.
It’s a 40 minute ride through the open lake, and then some narrow canals. This leads to a large village with an open market and the Shwe Inn Dein Pagoda.
Here the colors are just so different from anywhere else. They are muted pastels. It is reminiscent of the past before things became modern.
At this stop, you can also walk to the temples. Most are in their original condition, however some have been updated.
Along the way, you’ll make many stops. One of them is a silk weaving factory, where you get to see handmade scarves and other clothes. It’s a time intensive process that remains traditional.
But I think the most interesting parts you’ll see on the boat tour are the people. Locals whose lives are so different. From the woman carrying firewood, to the young children on a casual walk. There are a few Longneck Women to see. The lone fishermen on his boat posing for the tourist boat that passes by. It’s all very interesting to see up close.
A final stop at a few more pagodas, one known as the Jumping Cat Monastery, will end your day. Then it’s a boat ride straight back to the dock, one last pass through the open lake water, leaving you with enough time to enjoy the sunset.
It’s a perfect way to spend your day in Myanmar.
Where to Stay: The Diamond Star Guesthouse is one of the best places to stay in Inle Lake. It’s cheap, they can arrange a boat tour for you, and it’s centrally located. Across the street is a nicer hotel, which has a rooftop bar. You can go there to watch sunset and grab a drink.
Getting There: Taking a the overnight bus to Inle Lake, you’ll arrive early in the morning from Bagan. Make sure to book the night ahead or ask your guesthouse about your early arrival and how they can accommodate you. The streets are safe in the morning, except for a few stray dogs that run around. Be careful of rabies.
Cost: The tour is really reasonable at about 18,000 kyat for two people. This is for the whole day.
Things to Notice: Fishermen with their ancient paddling & fishing technique, floating villages and their gardens, the orange and black headwear of the women (known to this area).
Other Tips: Try the cigars that they hand to you at one of the stops (just one won’t have any health effects). And try the interesting food at the night market in town. The Indian restaurant and the nearby cafe were both very delicious for food.
More Myanmar Guides Here:
These are my other guides for Myanmar:
Explore the whole country: Your Travel Guide to Myanmar
Explore Bagan: Your Travel Guide to Bagan
Explore Inle Lake: Your Travel Guide to Inle Lake
Explore Loikaw: Your Travel Guide to Loikaw
Explore Hpa-an: Your Travel Guide to Hpa-an
Explore Yangon: Your Travel Guide to Yangon
Get Inspired for Myanmar: Top Five Reasons to Visit Myanmar