Inle is one of Myanmar’s most historical sites and has much to offer: a vast lake stretching more than 13 miles, a wildlife sanctuary and pottery village. But there’s not much in the way of nightlife to let loose after a hard day’s exploring.
Nevertheless, when I visited the lake last month with a friend we were determined to find the best spots to unwind and have a drink.
We headed to Nyaung Shwe, north of the lake, where we found a bunch of clubs, pubs, bars and karaoke. Usually a bustling place, the town was largely bereft of tourists owing to the low season.However, we weren’t going to let that stop us sampling the town’s evening delights.
We started off in a place called ‘Chillax Bistro Bar’ on Kyaung Daw Anauk Street.
The bar is simple, neat and tidy. The menu isn’t particularly extensive but has some interesting things.
I tried the bar’s signature drink called Lake Breeze, which is made with vodka, dark rum, crushed lime and orange juice. The taste was a bit ‘girly’ for my liking but it warmed my spirit all the same on what was a rainy evening.
We ordered the bar’s ‘Chicken Boxing’, a spicy and saucy chicken dish, and a taco salad, which were both fantastic. Food prices range from 2000 to 12000 kyat.
A great feature of the bar is its live music – just acoustic guitar music that is - which brought out the beauty and tranquility of the evening.
The next place we visited was the famous Sin Yaw restaurant in the centre of Nyaung Shwe, near the market, to eat dinner. The restaurant serves up traditional Shan dishes and is known for its excellence.
We ordered their classic dish, Nyaung Shwe grilled pork salad. The pork is grilled over a wood fire, giving it a delicious, smoky flavour. We also tried the wood fried duck with local sauce and wood fried vegetables.
Both the food and the service lived up to our expectations. The food was delicious, the shop clean, and they have many choices on the menu. And all of it is reasonably priced between Kyat 2000 to 5000.
With bellies full and the night young, we headed to the Asiatico Pub.
Asiatico Pub is cool and quant, with a rustic, laid back feel. It has a pool table, three floors and a rooftop, great for enjoying the sunset.
One look at the menu and our mouths instantly watered. We had barely digested our last meal when we ordered a Hawaiian Pizza - the crust was crispy, toppings fresh and tomato sauce had a zing. The cocktail menu was equally decent.
The food here is a bit pricey and staff could be friendlier, but I’d still go back.
Our last stop of the night was another popular place, One Owl Grill, famous for their meat skewers.
This tiny place, with a few long tables, is full of paintings, and photos of owls – they are even in the toilet. The bar, popular among expats and tourists, had a great atmosphere. We ordered the mixed chicken skewers priced Kyat 5800 and a Red Owl cocktail, comprising beer, strawberry, lime and tamarind.
The drink was so good that I had a couple of glasses, which put me in a long, peaceful sleep when I got back to the hotel.
Overall, a night in Nyaung Shwe is the perfect balance to a day out on the lake. It’s nightlife may not be on a par with Yangon’s, but it’s surely enough – we weren’t disappointed.