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Serene Inle lake with mountains as a natural backdrop  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Burma/Myanmar > Shan > Inle Lake

Inle Lake Travel Guide

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Inle Lake is a shallow lake in the middle of Myanmar, south-east of Mandalay. The lake is 22km long, and is densely inhabited by many different tribes.  

A boat trip on the lake is a must do. Unfortunately, it is also one of the biggest tourist traps in Myanmar, because you will visit at least 6 workshops (i.e. shops), on a half-day tour (only increasing when your tour is longer). Most of the workshops are only set up for tourist visitors.

 Day tours are available for only the top half of the lake (~10000 kyat for half day tour, ~12000kyat for half day tour + floating market) or including the south of the lake (recommended!) (~15000 kyat). Note that in comparison to other boat trips, this is very cheap, because the boat drivers get good commissions for anything you buy at the many shops you visit. Typical shops are clothing (about 2 times more expensive for the same item than elsewhere in the country), silverware and jewellery, and lackerware/tobacco. If you want to spend more time on the lake and less time shopping, be sure to tell the boat driver clearly.

There is a $5 entry fee per person to the lake, charged by the government.


Travel around the Inle Lake for more up-close encounters 

Serene Inle Lake  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

Bike Ride

Take a day to ride through surrounding villages. Just check your rental bike carefully before leaving - I had to pump the tyre twice, replace a pedal and fix the brakes on my bike.


Day hikes in the surrounding hills, or 3 day hikes to Kalaw are available, and are highly recommended. Seek out Than The, a local guide who knows the area very well and comes highly recommended. Ask for him at Win's Massage business. Another excellent guide is Dante, which you can hire from the Agency called Thu-Thu, on the main street near the market. He and Mr. Cook will provide you the best information on the area and the best food you'll eat in Myanmar.

Hot Springs

Rent a bike and cycle the bumpy road towards the mountains to visit the hot springs for a relaxing afternoon. (5000 kyat). Beware: the Hot Springs are actually 3 swimming pools in a big concrete Spa centre, so you do not go there for the natural surroundings. The ride to the spa however is a very scenic route.

Easiest ways to get into Inle Lake

Bull riding on Inle Lake  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

Flights (Domestic)

The easiest way to get into Inle Lake (and the most comfortable) is by domestic flight. The closest airport is in Heho, which is a taxi-ride away from the lake itself (walking down the road from the airport, towards the highway, should see quoted fares drop, if not, try your luck hailing a taxi or passing pickup on the highway itself). Prices for flights are around US$75 from Yangon and US$40 from Mandalay, but unlike buslines, as the government is heavily involved in the domestic air market, a good chunk of your money will be going into their hands.


A cheaper, but less comfortable, option is that which most Myanmar people take - the bus. Buses depart daily, and cost around US$16 from Yangon (20 hours) and (unsure of costs or time from Mandalay). A very slow and uncomfortable bus is available for $9 from Bagan. These buses will get you there, but they are not really designed for larger westerners, and are quite cramped (passengers picked up along the way often end up sitting in the aisle).

Pick-Up / Line-ka

A very cheap option from Taunggyi is a pick-up (1 hour and around US$0.40).

Villages on Inle Lake  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>


There are plenty of hotels near the lake.

You can walk around town easily. Many bike rentals available for less than $1 per day, great for also touring the surroundings.

Golden Kite Restaurant is one of the best restaurant's in Inle (Yaungshwe), loacted at  the junction of Yone Gyi and Myawaddy Road (Tel. +9508129327).  Owner Mio personally makes the best hand- and homemade pasta and wood-oven pizza in Nyaungshwe. A great experience.

Smiling Moon Restaurant on Yone Gyi Rd has good prices on milkshakes and lassi. The owner also changes money.

The cheapest internet in town (k400/hr) but still fast. It's on Ahletaung Kyaung Rd, first right past Smiling Moon restaurant. Don't pay the rude people at Comet (more than double the price) for internet. 

Visit Phyu Phyu's Bamboo Hut near the bridge on Yone Gyi Rd for traditional burmese massage by one of Phyu Phyu's family members. This wonderful young woman (with the nicest family) can also book boat trips (and guide you), canoes, or trekking.

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