The mystery of a lake lying high in the Shan hills, the
enigma of fishermen who balance on one leg and row with the other, the allure
of the peace and tranquility of the floating gardens – Inle Lake is place that
keeps calling us back. Here are eight reasons to love Inle Lake.
Surrounded by beautiful blue mountains, Inle Lake will
impress you every time you visit. Add to this the shimmering waters of the
lake, floating gardens and bursts of pink water lilies here and there and
you’ll be gazing for hours.
Shan food is probably the best ethnic cuisine in Myanmar and
nowhere is it more fresh and delicious than in Shan State itself.
basic and satisfying is the Shan noodle breakfast but tofu nway (noodles with warm gravy and meat topping) is another
delight. The dishes come in a wide array of pleasurable flavours and are rarely
served without a side of pickled vegetables to add in. Fried tofu for K1,000?
I’ll have another plate please!
Located at about 900 metres above sea level, the lake area
is a good deal cooler than other parts of Myanmar.
On our most recent visit,
the temperature at Heho Airport (serving the Inle Lake area) was a balmy 23°C while Yangon festered
at 36°C. Bring on
the chilly evenings and sweaters!
There are two vineyards producing good Myanmar wine and
guess what – they are both located near Inle Lake! Red Mountain is on a popular
biking circuit and can be easily reached from the town of Nyaung Shwe or the lake.
Aythaya Vineyard is a more picturesque and peaceful option located a 30-minute
drive away and offers very spectacular sunset views and wonderful food.
Warm Shan People
The locals you will meet at Inle are incredibly warm and
hospitable. Simple interactions and even small talk with people you meet along
the way make for amicable warmth and fond memories. Lots of people living
around Inle have good English and are interested in learning about you and
where you come from. Share a smile and make a friend.
Hpaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Indein pagoda complex, Jumping Cat
Monastery and Inle Heritage are just a few of the great examples of Shan
culture and Buddhist history. Workshops where tourists can observe the
traditional crafts of lotus and silk weaving, silversmith, cigar making and
lotus paper making are aplenty around the lake.
There are now more outdoor activities available in the Inle
Lake area than ever before. Apart from the boat trip around the lake and
well-established hiking trails, there are now options for kayaking, horse
riding, cooking classes and of course cycling too. Being outdoors and on the
move is a fantastic way to take in the unique landscape, meet local villagers
and observe rural Myanmar life.
Flights to Heho for Inle Lake are just an hour long and
there are multiple departures from Yangon and other major towns every day.
Unfortunately the flight tickets rarely cost less than $90 each way and you
should be sure you’re buying a direct ticket or you may be paying a visit to
Bagan and Mandalay on your way to the lake! If you have more time (and less
cash) on your hands, there are a few bus companies with very comfortable and
affordable overnight VIP buses leaving throughout the evening from Yangon. Tickets
for the VIP buses cost around $25 and snacks, personal TVs and blankets come as