I dedicate Inle Lake to the last destination in my journey along Burma’s country, which is just a coincidence because Inle Lake is simply the furthest of the destination I plan to go. Unexpectedly, it really is a wonderful place for the last place on my itinerary, the freshest, most relaxing and peaceful place that I have ever come across. So, how to visit Inle Lake and what to do in Inle Lake? Let’s check out my Inle Lake travel blog with the fullest Inle Lake travel guide (Inle Lake guide) and Inle Lake day trip to discover one of the most peaceful, serenity of Myanmar (Burma) from how to get there, best places to visit, top things to do and how to spend 2 days in Inle Lake (Inle Lake itinerary 2 days) to find out the answer!
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Inle does not have many sporadic spots to go, but can only consider the spots to go here as the main spots, but the true spots are really the main spots, few but quality. What does Inle has? A day tour around Inle Lake, around Nyaungshwe town to experience the local life, visit Shwe Yan Bye monastery, or go to the mountain to enjoy wine. Those are really places worth spending hours to experience, or taking a tour around the lake can take all day to go.
Inle Lake travel guide: How to get to Inle Lake
The simplest and most popular way to travel from Myanmar’s other cities like Yangon, Mandalay to Inle is still long-distance bus, but there are some other ways as summarize below:
By train: This is a vehicle I do not recommend because trains in Myanmar are quite old and slow, especially the distance from other cities to Inle is quite long. Usually you should only take the train if you are a nostalgic person, like to take pictures of the old beauty of this country.
Flying to Inle: This is also a good idea, because there is a daily flight between Yangon and He Ho, the airport is about 30km from Inle Lake. However, flying in Myanmar is not as convenient as developed countries, because flying like travel by bus, there are many transit routes before reach the final destination.
By long-distance bus: According to my travel experience in Myanmar, this is the best way to get to Inle, the quality of buses in Myanmar is very good with big companies like JJ Express or Elite, you can checking prices or booking in advance here, very convenient: VIP Bus Ticket (One Way) between Inle Lake and Yangon. Also you can book tickets directly with the company by emailing or texting via their fanpage. The bus tickets from Mandalay – Inle costs about 17.615 Kyats; Inle – Yangon costs about 27.700 Kyats.
Inle Lake travel blog: Hotel in Inle or Nyaungshwe town
Traveling to Inle Lake, visitors often stay in the town of Nyaung Shwe, where concentrates many hotels, mid-range guesthouses are reasonably priced. I’m a solo traveler so I stay in dorm room, which is shared the room with many other tourists, but unlike the hostel type in Europe or other countries, each room here has only 3-4 people and each one has a pretty, clean single bed. My hotel is Manaw Thukha Hotel, clean and airy, breakfast included in the room rate, the food is not varied but quite good. (You can check rates, reviews and book on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
In addition, if you want to stay in upper hotels or prefer resorts, directly enjoy the scene of sky and river, you cannot miss the beautiful resorts on Inle Lake, with many villas on the water (like Water Villas in Maldives) such as Sky Lake Inle Resort (Agoda.com or Booking.com) or Inle Resort (Agoda.com or Booking.com), the price is not too high, only about $50- $100/night.
Inle Lake guide: Eatning and drinking in Inle Lake
Just like Bagan, there are plenty of eateries serving both traditional and Western food in a small area of town. Right in the center you will find quite a concentration of restaurants, not only that, many restaurants also organize many traditional cuisine cooking class of Myanmar people for tourists.
With 2 days in Inle (Inle Lake itinerary 2 days), I once ate during a lake tour, ate traditional food in the evening and had dim sum lunch in a restaurant near my hotel on the next day. Overall the food here is quite good, not difficult to eat but also very affordable.
Inle Lake itinerary: The travel experience and 2-day itinerary in Inle
Inle is a place with its atmosphere like Sapa or Dalat in Vietnam, with the fresh air of a high mountainous area, but here is very large and peaceful. There are no buildings or high-rise hotels, nor roads that are full of means of transportation, but simply a small town of Nyaungshwe beside the vast Inle Lake. Call it Inle Lake, but perhaps must be said this lake is as big as a large river, but sailing all day does not end. Places to go when coming to Inle can be listed as:
- Buy a day tour and spend the whole day to visiting Inle Lake.
- Nyaung Shwe – Mingalar Market where you can experience the daily life of the locals.
- Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery.
- Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery: A vast and lush vineyard on the high hill.
How to spend 2 days in Inle? Below are the details of Inle Lake itinerary for 2 days
Inle Lake itinerary — Day 1: Buy a boat tour in Inle Lake
I took the night bus from Mandalay to Inle, although it started early around 10pm but until 5am the bus reach Nyaungshwe town.
At the gateway to Nyaung Shwe town, there is a checkpoint and they get on the bus to ask tourists to buy tickets. Only foreign tourists coming to Inle have to buy and the natives, of course are not, but fortunately they only charge for Western visitors, some Asians like me maybe they think is Burmese people, so they not charge, so I saved 12.500 kyats, quite great!
I plan to spend the first day just visiting the spots around Inle Lake. I don’t know where to buy the tour because I have to find more people to share the costs, if I rent a whole boat is very expensive. As soon as I got off the bus, an old gentleman looked quite kind and started talking, fortunately he is a boat tour guide on Inle Lake. This uncle is very enthusiastic, extremely enthusiastic, he ask me take a tour right away. Of course, I have not been able to picture anything yet because I’v just arrived here and I have not known what this place is like, my eyes are closed because sleepy, the price and people here I still do not know how it is. So I still hesitated, I have to go to the hotel to check in first. This uncle kept following me, took his bike and help me carried my luggage, followed me to the hotel.
The price he offered is 15.000 Kyats for a boat for all day, how many hours and how many spots are OK, but excepted Indein only, if I want to go to Indein, I will have to pay more 2.000 Kyats. The most important thing for me is to take a boat to watch the sunset and take photos of the fisherman – the artists of Inle, catching fish with one leg on boat that I’ve seen through pictures of this place. The price is well researched before, around 17.000 – 20.000 Kyats for a full day tour is reasonable, so I accepted 17.000 kyats for this itinerary which also includes Indein. I also said that I had to find someone to go with to share the tour fee, Zaw Liwn – the boat driver name – go along with me to the hotel.
On the way to the Manaw Thukha Hotel, luckily, we met a Singaporean girl – Rene Ng who stay in the same hotel as me, came to Inle the day before but could not find anyone to share the boat tour fee, so she wait until today. Zaw Liwn knew Rene before so he was the “joining” for both of us, so we shared the same battle line, sharing the money for this boat tour. Actually, I also do not want to go too crowded, unable to control my schedule, two people are enough, easier to negotiate and more free at my disposal.
After checking in, send my luggage and getting ready for the whole day trip, the two of us and Zaw Liwn went to the pier to leave. The pier is located right in the center of Nyaungshwe, which seems to be the gathering place for both the tour boats and Inle’s wholesale fruit boats. According to the agreement, the tour will last until sunset, the spots that boat driver will introduce to let us find out and decide on which places to go, because around Inle Lake has too many spots even if taking a boat all day will not end.
So we decided to visit 4 spots, not too hurry, enjoy is the main purpose, but will have to include Indein – where there are thousands of small temples close together, and floating tomato gardens on the water (floating market), two more points are the markets with traditional silver shops, and Nga Phe Kyaung monastery. Actually there are a few more places like the village of the long necks people (like the long-neck village in Chiang Mai), the silk weaving village or the cat monastery… but we also don’t pore much but just go slow, only slow enjoying.
Experience sailing on Inle Lake
The three-person boat, including a boat driver and two of us, it is a small but fairly long motorboat (about 5m), when reach each spots Zaw Liwn will turn off the engine and paddle with the paddle. The boat depars at nearly 8 am, the sky is still not much sunshine, the lake is still dew, the air is really cool and fresh, it is always clear. I enjoyed this atmosphere for a long time, like a guy living in a dusty metropolis for a whole year to enjoy the fresh air in such a high mountainous area.
The distance from the wharf to the first point is quite far, it takes about 30 minutes by boat. The lake was so large, the calm waves crashing against the side of the boat. On one side is mountain colors that feels like the typical mountains of India’s majestic Kashmir region, on one side is the vast sky and sea (actually like a small river). On the horizon, the sun has not yet completely rised, hiding behind the thick layer of clouds to create rails shining down on the lake, it’s really magical.
Traditional silver making village
After crossing a large section of the lake, the boat began weaving into smaller canals to enter the sights. The first spot is the silver village, with some floating houses with traditional silver craft. Here they sell all kinds of the silver items and jewelry, they also directly making silver items for tourists admiring.
In addition to the stores, shops that currently sell silverware, there is also a daily market where a full range of goods from souvenirs, jewelry for tourists, and fish market, food… Passing a small bridge is a temple/pagoda with the typical sharp pointed roofs.
Indein – the land of thousands of temples
The boat continues going on to Indein, a key attraction on the itinerary. This is a large area famous for thousands of small temples that if just look through the photos on the travel websites, perhaps everyone thinks you are lost in a new, strange land.
When the boat arrived at Indein wharf, we went through some restaurants right at the wharf, then continued walking deep into the town (or called the village also). The town is quite large, the population is more crowded and the market is more bustling. Somtimes drop by a small stall and tasting some pretty small cakes, quite good.
After wandering around the market, the two of us walked through a long corridor to the gathering area of the famous temples. To visit this whole area may takes a half-day, which are small temples, average highe of about 3m with pointed roofs, standing close together like giant rows of spike embedded deep into the ground. These temples have two main colors, yellow and the color of red bricks.
After visiting the temples here, it was noon, we returned to the wharf because the driver is still waiting there. We decided to have lunch at a restaurant near the boat dock. It is a small restaurant designed as an ecological area, on one side is a river with lots of green trees so it’s cool and comfortable. The food is actually not very special, but it is also quite good.
We ate and talked about everything, our country, travel and plans. Rene is a designer, she is in the process of quitting and traveling, so she is quite free, Rene is in Myanmar for about 20 days, then returns to Singapore to prepare for one month trip in Japan. Singapore passport is really powerful, it’s easy to go anywhere.
Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery
We do not have any concept or image from before in our minds, it seems that the boat driver proposed to us. Later, after visited, we were grateful to the boat driver because suggested to us such a wonderful place. It was a small monastery in the middle of the water, with a simple covered bridge over it. Everything here feels so peaceful, quite crowded with tourists but not so noisy and messy. On the contrary, everything is deep, even from the sunbeams pouring down through the windows.
Another typical feature place of Inle, that are the lush green tomato gardens planted on the water, and colorful floating houses. Here we walk on a small, long wooden bridge to watch the clouds, the sky, the water, the mountains. Seems like wanting to stay here forever. Even a small tea shop here is also cute!
This place also known as the Maing Thauk floating village, you can come here like us by boat, or you can also reach by road, as people often cycling here. This point is not too far from the center Nyaungshwe.
Watching the sunset on Inle Lake and the unique fishing way with one leg
This is probably the most easily visualized image of Inle, perhaps everyone has ever seen if learning about Myanmar, can also be considered a singnature image of this country.
When it was late afternoon, we left Maing Thauk village to the middle of the lake, where we could see Inle sunset most clearly. Before we went, I told the driver to find me some fishermen to “perform” and I would do – photograph. Upon arrival, we saw a team with lot of cameras lining up to shooting 3-4 fishermen like that. Our boat docked in a quieter spot, Zaw Liwn sent two fishermen, they were also used to it, so they were very comfortable, doing all the movements for me to take photos. Of course, I have spend some money for them but not very much.
2 day in Inle — Day 2: Discover Nyaung Shwe
Nyaungshwe is a small town without high rise buildings, the roads here are as small as the roads in Vietnamese villages. I got up really early, picking a bike out of the dozens of bikes that the hotel left in the yard free for guests and cycling around the town in the early morning.
Nyaung Shwe – Mingalar Central Market
Running along the main road, I saw with my own eyes the rhythm of the Nyaung Shwe natives. The atmosphere here is very pleasant, it is cool, not as hot as in Bagan. But most people still apply Thanaka powder on their faces as a traditional habit. In the town, besides the wharf, the restaurants serving tourists also have the central market of Mingalar which is bustling. Here they sell everything from food, dry food or daily household goods.
Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery
This monastery is located near the gateway to the town of Nyaung Shwe, where charges the entrance fee to Inle Lake to foreign visitors. I rode 2km from the town, through a tree-lined road to see firsthand the images of the novice monks sitting by the windows of this monastery. However, the monastery was quite deserted, and the novice monks stayed in the inner area until lunch time to gather in the main room.
Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery
I do not think that in Myanmar or Nyaung Shwe itself there is such a “Western” place. A vineyard for extracting and brewing fine wines is usually only known in the countryside of France or Europe, but this area of Red Mountain Estate is not inferior.
Getting here is also quite far, but the road is steep because of the mountain so it takes a lot of energy. I came here also late afternoon, to waiting for the sunset drop its shadow on the vineyard overlooking from this high mountain. As my imagination, the rows of green grapes running from the parking lot to the top of the farm. Many western backpackers also come here, not only to visit but also to enjoy, the taste of the mountains, the sky and of course the fine wines.
Hanging around for a while outside, I went up to the bar, the highest point here. They serve like a pub, or maybe think of a tranquil cafe. Many types of wine to choose from, there are white, red wine, the price is also very reasonable, not as high as I thought. Ordering a glass of wine like most of the visitors here, I choose a comfortable seat for myself, to savor a little bit of acrid and bitter aftertaste, and watch the panoramic view of the peaceful Nyaung Shwe town below …
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in and from Inle Lake you can refer to
Are you looking for a Myanmar itinerary? Let’s check out: 6 day itinerary Myanmar — Suggest Myanmar solo travel itinerary for 6 days.