Inle Lake was one of the most magical places we have ever visited. It is a fresh water lake (the second largest in the country) located in the Taunnggyi district of Shan State. The lake is famous for its floating villages and gardens and the unique way of life of its inhabitants. There are so many things you can see here and we would have loved to stay here an additional day. Just relax and enjoy the unique vibes of the area and the wonderful and welcoming locals who never stop waving at you while passing you in one of the water taxis. As you wave back at them the echo of the cheering and infectious joy quickly follows.
Main Attractions Of Inle Lake
Visit The Local Workshops
Our Myanmar itinerary included many small local workshops because we have a special interest in arts and crafts and these unique cultural experiences. There are many family-owned workshops that can be found all around the lake, but be aware that at this area some of the workshops are much more commercial and touristic than elsewhere. Nevertheless, it is a very unique experience to visit one of the floating houses on the lake. Make sure to visit one of the lotus weaving factories which make clothes and garments from the lotus plant. In another visit to a local family-owned workshop we were welcomed by the women (and the daughter who spoke perfect English) who prepare the cheroots – local cigars with different flavors that are hand-rolled by the women. It was a great opportunity to deepen our knowledge of the locals’ everyday lives.
Take A Boat Ride In The Sunrise/Sunset
We knew in advance that we would like to watch the sunrise on the lake and try to snap some pictures of the local fishermen with their unique baskets and traditional method of fishing. Waking up so early and seeing the cloudy sky was not a great start for the day. However, The wind and early morning chills quickly woken us up and there’s something magical about having the lake all to yourself with the magical morning mist which lingers on the surface of the lake. We quickly encountered a few fishermen who spotted us from afar and gladly posed for the enthusiastic tourists. A sunset tour is also recommended although the best chances to catch the authentic fishermen is in the early morning hours. Yes, we know it is a hustle to wake up so early on your vacation but it is a must for the photographers among you!
Visit The Five-Day Market
The five-day market travels between the villages of the lake and it is always packed with the locals who come to buy the fresh produce for the day. Many of the houses on the lake do not have refrigerators and therefore the inhabitants rely on the fresh produce that is sold in the market. Markets are always one of our favorite places to get lost in and here many of the visitors still wear their tribe’s traditional garbs, especially the Pa’O women with their colorful headdress. It is also a great opportunity to buy souvenirs or try some of the local snacks and fruits. After wondering around for a while, we bought ourselves a fresh coconut and just watched the world go by…
Discover Ancient Indein
Indein took us by surprise. When our guide wanted to take us there we didn’t have great expectations because by then we’d already visited a few pagodas and temples and we thought we’d had enough. So we took the boat ride to the small village, saw the groups of tourists who were crowding the restaurants located at the pier and lost out small amount of enthusiasm we’d managed to gather. We walked slowly through stands of touristic souvenirs and hagglers who asked us to take their picture for 1 dollar. After a short walk we saw several ancient stupas behind the corner which were very nice but weren’t that exciting as well. If you are still reading this, keep on walking and be amazed by the hundreds of stupas of ancient pagodas in various shapes and sizes. Some of them are well-preserved while others are falling apart. Many of the pagodas have been restored and it is absolutely breath taking to walk around the compound and take in this amazing sight. You must visit Indein while in the Lake, just choose to visit at a time when it is less crowded. Our guide actually planned it perfectly because after having our delicious lunch at a restaurant at the pier, we encountered very few tourists among the pagodas.
Explore The Floating Gardens
At the end of a very long day we decided to take it easy so we took a canoe ride through one of the floating gardens. We were welcomed by a lovely family, drank some tea, ate peanuts and then waited one of their sons to bring the smaller canoe. The villagers grow their crops in large gardens that float on the water and it is unique to Inle Lake. It is such a relaxing experience to ride in a small motorized canoe among the crops, looking for tomatoes and cucumbers and drown yourself in all that luscious greenery. The reflections are to die for and we couldn’t stop taking pictures. If you manage to do it in the late afternoon you would have the best light for taking pictures with the beautiful golden hues that color the whole scenery.
We loved all of the places we’ve visited in Myanmar but Inle Lake has a special place in our hearts. The lake has such a charming and laid-back atmosphere and there are so many attractions around here. The moment we got here, we fell in love with this place and the friendly locals.