Inle Lake Boat Ride – Things To See
Inle Lake is one of the many stops in Myanmar you should definitely spend about 2 to 3 days, depending on your points of interests. It is a freshwater lake located in Nyaung Shwe of Shan State and famous for its single leg-rowing Intha people.
Inle Lake Daily Routine
Life on this shallow lake is interesting. With no pavements or sidewalks to begin with, locals, travellers and even for transporting produces need a one-person-wide boat to get around. The boat can be surprisingly fast and noisy at full speed. It can also fit into different water levels. People live in rustic and singe / two storeys wooden stilt houses where you can actually feel the house shaking when there are boats passing by. The iconic scene – Intha men rowing a boat with one leg can’t be seen anywhere else in the world.
Inle Lake Boat Tour
There are numerous hotels, restaurants and local artisan shops around Inle Lake which exist for a reason – tourism. Since you are here, you might as well get on a boat and have a tour around it. It can get really touristy and stops will be made quite often. But nobody will force you to buy anything. Our boat tour comes with unlimited supply of bottled water, be sure to ask and if not, bring your own water. The tour includes a lunch break at restaurants designed for tourists, i.e. expensive. We skipped it because we stuffed our face during breakfast. One tip: eat more at breakfast.
Inle Lake is renowned for its weaving industry. The Shan bags which are used daily by many Burmese as tote bags, are produced in large quantities. The chief artisans are based in Innpawkhon Village – near where I stayed. While weaving might seem common and nothing special in Southeast Asia, Myanmar is the only place to make lotus fabric because of the shallow water of Inle Lake which provides distinctive advantage to the growth of lotus. The floating factory looks like an enterprise with women of all age working in it.
There are many monasteries on Inle Lake but boats will bring you to Nge Phe Chaung, the largest and oldest among others. This wooden monastery houses an impressive collection of Buddha images all over Myanmar.
Kay La Floating Garden
Other than fishing, locals grow vegetables and fruits in large garden floating on the water. Seeds are planted in the fertile mud and supported by bamboo canes. They are used for tomatoes, cucumbers and gourds. I heard that Inle Lake’s tomatoes are the finest in Myanmar.
Ywar Ma Village
This village is home to gold, silver smithing, Shan paper factory and umbrella making workshops. These are all commission-based stops but they would not rush you to buy anything.
The Indein Village
The village is located on the west side and connects to the lake through narrow canals. Getting there was a fun experience as you see the boat driving pass through a twist and turn passage which can fit only one boat at a time.
Bagan isn’t the only place to see the astonishing stupas. This piece of land boasts thousands of stupas on the hills top. Only a 10-minute walk from the pier, you will soon reach this small, packed and quiet pagoda hill, they are much more intimate and can be easily explored on foot.
The Cheroot Factory
Cheroot is a cigar distinctive to Myanmar and quite popular throughout the country. It is another commission-based stop of the boat tour. These women are very sophisticated and can handroll more than 500 cheroot a day. They sell a wide range of cheroots, from traditional to anise flavoured. It’s enjoyable to see how they seamlessly put everything together under 30 seconds.
Getting to Inle Lake
We got to Inle Lake by trekking. There are many direct buses from Yangon, Bagan and Kalaw. The nearest airport is Heho Airport. But honestly, flying domestic in Myanmar is not cheap so it’s not recommended unless you have time constraints. Entrance fee for foreigners is 12,000 kyats.