Inle Lake BurmaLake Inle Burma
Myanmar's aquatic world: exploration of Lake Inle
Inle Lake's spectacular waters ide, Intha Fishing Rows canoe, with one foot, garden and timber houses, swim on shaky stilt poles above the waters. Spend your leisure hours exploring one of Myanmar's most famous tourist attractions with an early bird's eye view sightseeing tour, a bike ride through the scenery or a stay in the nearby mountains and towns.
Leaving the lake is of course the most favourite way to explore Lake Inle. Nyaungshwe, on the north shore of the lake, is the starting point for powerboat excursions - any city' s hotels and guest houses can help you make one or just sit back and watch a skipper come along on the road.
Excursions can be arranged individually, but the excursions usually involve visiting the renowned sites in the north of the lake, such as Phaung Daw Oo Paya in Tha Ley, the Nga Hpe Kyaung (Jumping Cat Monastery) in the Nga Phe community and the swimming pools. Enjoy watching the Intha fishers (most often photographed at dawn) and their amazing one-legged rowboat fishing with both arms.
Further away are the towns of Thaung Thut, Hmaw Be and Samkar, and you can also plan a trip to Inthein, where crumbling, hilly peaks overlook the dam. It gets very warm during the day: bringing your own helmet, rain and lots of sun protection. Even sundown tours are favoured, although it can get cool on the lake.
Inle' is not just about the sea. There are many attractions around the lake, among them small towns and wells. Start in Nyaungshwe, where you can rent bicycles for about K1500 (US$1.50) per night. Turn lefthand at the T-junction and follow the hills southbound. About 8 km further on you will arrive at the Khaung Dhing spring, where the waters are fed into a row of indoor and outdoor spas.
Head southwards until you arrive at Khaung Daing, an Intha hamlet that produces the Shan State's famed beef. In the afternoon, rent a K8000 (US$6.50) to take you and your bicycle across the lake. You will be dumped on the east side, where you can cycle further on to the east through granary and small towns.
Near the northern side of the lake you will see the Red Mountain Estate vineyard to the south. From here you have a wonderful look at Inle and the vineyard (you can also try the K3000 wine). Drive around the northern side of the lake and drive to Nyaungshwe before sundown, as the streets are not light.
It' s a good idea to take a full days to explore the most nearby attractions of Inle or to one of the towns in the surrounding area on Fair Time. Taunggyi, about an hours drive from Nyaungshwe, is the Shan state's administration capitol, with a series of historical Myanesque church and mosque styles and a nightspot offering inexpensive and fun locals delicacies.
And Taunggyi is also one of the places for a rural fair that revolves between a couple of cities in the Inle Lake area. It takes place every five nights (except on a full moon) and pulls down minority groups from the hill to sell and grow cattle. Further villages are Maing Thauk near Nyaungshwe, Thaung Thut at the south end of the lake, Pindaya, home of the Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, and Inthein, where the fair is famous for its small scale and picturesque surroundings.
Accommodation can help you decide where the next step is to go. Farther away (and also on the square ), about three hrs from the lake, lies Kalaw, a former mountain terminal, encircled by Buddhist peaks, vantage points and the tranquil towns of the Palaung, Danu, Pa-O, Taung Yo and Danaw people.
Nestled in a beautiful countryside with wooded rolling countryside, Kalaw is a top hiking spot and a base for two to four days of hiking as far as Inle. There are many Kalaw dining places serving Nepalese and Indian tastes, thanks to the workers who came to construct the railway during the UK hegemony.
Nyaungshwe is the starting point for Lake Inle, but the city has no coach station or airfield. From Inle Lake by plane, you must take a flight to Heho, about an hour's drive (taxis cost K25,000 - US$20 - from the airport). When you arrive by road, take a coach to Taunggyi and get off at Shwenyaung, the turn-off to Nyaungshwe, from where you can drive the other 10 km.
An obligatory K12,500 (US$10) is required to drive into the Inle Lake area and must be paid upon your arriving at the permission stand at the Nyaungshwe entryway.