Inle Lake is one of the top destinations in Myanmar, located northeast of the country. You can find different kinds of villages and tribes, surrounded by beautiful nature in the lake. My friend and I took a boat tour from Nyaung Shwe, a small town located a few kilometers away from the Inle Lake. Here is my Inle Lake itinerary – where we went, what we saw and what we did! (I calculated 1000 Myanmar Kyats = $0.82680USD)
5:30 Arrive at the hostel
We took a night bus from Yangon the previous night, and arrived in Nyaung Shwe. The bus stopped at main street in town, so we walked for around 15 minutes to the hostel, Friday Inn (here) (we booked a cheapest dorm on Agoda.com in advance, $7/night). The road after the main street didn’t have lights at all, so we had to walk in the dark, holding my phone as a torch.
When we were waiting for check-in at the lobby, four Thai people also arrived. Eventually we got to know each other since my friend and I could speak a little bit of Thai, and ended up sharing a boat to the lake together, leaving in a few hours. At first we needed to pay 25000kyats ($20.67) to charter one boat for ourselves, but we got the great deal paying 5000kyats ($4.13) per person! (Of course I always prefer cheaper one!)
8:00 Left the hostel
A small truck arrived in front of the hostel, and we got on. The truck took us to a place next to small canal after about 5 minutes. The sign was saying “Boat Jerry” (here), and it looked like a local travel agency, selling hats and food in front of the place.
8:15 Get on the boat
The boat had six wooden white chairs inside, so we all had a place to sit. Soon after we all got on, the boat left the place. It was very cold in the morning, so we had to wear cardigans and scarfs.
8:30 Arrive at the fisherman point
After passing the canal and entering the lake, the boat gradually slowed down at one point. When I look around, some fisherman boat were approaching ours. Eventually they all started posing with a fisher net, like the pictures I saw everywhere on the guidebook. I understood this is their job now, getting more money than catching fish. I paid 100 kyats ($0.08) as a tip.
9:30 Arrive at Kayla village
After moving on in the lake for a while, we came to a village on the lake. All the houses were standing in the lake, and paddy field was around them. Some people were washing their clothes in the lake, and others were working in the field. The driver of the boat told us they were growing tomatoes. I was very impressed with all the beautifully aligned fields and houses built on bamboo, it would’ve been so hard to establish on the water and make their living!
10:15 Arrive at Silver Smith Workshop
The boat eventually stopped at one of the big houses. The sign was saying “Inle Traditional Silver Smith Workshop”. Inside the place there were some people working, and a couple of people were explaining each process to tourists. The work was very delicate and detailed and I couldn’t take my eyes off!
The room next to the work space was silver jewelry shop. There were countless of different kinds of earrings and bracelets in show cases. A pair of earring was about $15-20. I wanted to buy one but… I didn’t have money! (again as always)
11:00 Arrive at Ymawa
After we left at the silver smith workshop, we arrived at the place called Ymawa (here). It looked like an island on the lake, and had big temple in the middle. we decided to get off the boat and explore around the area.
We went to see inside the temple, and walked around the local market behind it. People were selling food, clothes and daily necessities such as tissues and washing powders. I bought some deep fried snack at one place. They were cheap (100 kyats ($0.08) for 1) and delicious!
12:30 Lunch time
It was getting hotter and hotter on the boat. We were getting hungry, so we stopped at a restaurant. It was (of course) built on the lake, and you can enjoy the mountain view from the restaurant. The price was higher compared to the restaurants in the village, but I could imagine it would be hard to bring all the ingredients with boats.
I ordered fried vegetable with lime source (2000 kyats = $1.65). I thought it would come with rice, but of course that didn’t happen… so I just had vegetables (I had snacks before so it was okay).
13:45 Arrive at Weaving Workshop
After the lunch, we arrived at a weaving workshop place. People were making thread from stem of lotus. The woman in the picture was making thread, some people were dying the threads, and others were weaving in a different room. There was a store next to the factory, and I saw many scarfs in beautiful patterns. It was so hot that day, so we took a break there, just sitting and researching for the next destination.
15:15 Arrive at Win Yadanar (Kayan tribe)
I am sure that many of you have probably heard of or seen the pictures of Kayan people, the long neck tribe in Myanmar. You may have seen them in Thailand (I have been to the village), but they are originally from Myanmar. At this place Kayan people were selling souvenirs, and some tourists were taking pictures with them.
16:15 Indein Village
This small village was our last destination before going back to the town. We went to the Shwe Indein Pagoda (here) there. We walked a long corridor leading to pagoda, seeing some souvenir vendors on both sides. There were many white, gold, and beige stupas around the pagoda on top, whose bells were ringing to the breeze, and they were really beautiful. It was a quiet evening. You can see the mountain view from the temple. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of them because I didn’t want to pay for the camera (my biggest regret though), but you will probably find the pictures on the internet. This place was my favorite on that day, so definitely recommend to visit! (Next time I will come back with some extra cash…)
17:30 Left for sunset
By the time we came out from the temple, the sun was starting to go down. we wanted to see the sunset from the lake, so we quickly left the place.
18:00 Arrive at sunset spot
It was the perfect timing when we got to the spot. The sun was tilting in the sky, and shining the surface of the lake brightly. I felt the breeze on my cheek as the boat goes on. Birds were passing when I was looking through the finder of my camera. Eventually fishermen appeared again and started posing for us. We paid 500 kyats ($0.41) each this time, as they were posing for quite a long time.
18:30 Left for the town
We watched the sun to set completely, and left the place. By the time we came back to the place where we got on the boat, it was already dark outside. My friend and I said thank you to the Thai travelers, and started looking for a place for dinner.
On the way to going to the main road, we found this place full of locals (here) (it was full when we went in!). Since we always love to eat among locals (and you can always find the cheaper food!), we decided to have a table there. I ordered a noodle soup with chicken (there was soup at the bottom, in case you’re wondering), and I paid 800 kyats ($0.66). It came with side dish and soup.
20:30 Come back to the hostel
We booked a bus ticket to Yangon for the next day, and came back to the hostel. We were extremely tired, even though we were just sitting on the boat (probably the heat?). We took a shower, and eventually passed out on the bed.
That’s the end of my Inle Lake itinerary. I felt just one day is enough for the lake itself, because we could see many sights in a day. The town Nyaung Shwe is very small and there are not many things to see, but you can go to for example hot spring by bicycle, about 8km from the town, according to the woman in the hostel. I would love to go to 3 day trek to Kalaw next time I visit: it would be an amazing experience!
Thank you for reading until the end! If you have been to the Inle Lake, let me know what you did in the comment down below 🙂