We are facing Lake Inle, a place surrounded by green mountains and more than 200 villages and floating villages. Inle Lake hides everything a traveler looks for. From hiking trails, boat rides, bike routes and even vineyards. Inle Lake surprises, but as in the restMyanmar is changing, giving way to luxury hotels in the middle of the lake and ATMs in a town as picturesque as it is Nyaungshwe. We tell you in first person on Travel for free.
With him we have almost advanced everything you can see and do in Inle Lake, but let's see what we can do in more detail.
How to get to Inle Lake
Once in Myanmar there are several alternatives to reach Inle Lake. The most comfortable but the least economical is the plane to Heho, which amounts to $ 52 buying the ticket one day in advance. The rest of the alternatives are usually quite uncomfortable, such as the bus.
Already at the airport the only option is the taxi toNyaungshwe, the largest tourist point of the lake and the place of greatest concentration of economic establishments and restaurants. The taxi amounts to 25,000 MMK, a good blow to the pocket, but there is always the option of being able to share the taxi With a tourist on your plane.
If you go to Kalaw, one of the places to hiking near the lake, the taxi will amount to 35,000 MMK.
The basis of your activities, Nyaungshwe
The city of Nyaungshwe It is the best equipped with infrastructure, with lots of accommodation and restaurants. Possibly it is the best starting point to visit the area, though, it does not stand out for its beauty, but at least it houses the port, beautiful restaurants like the View point and the cheapest accommodations in the area.
Our first impression upon arriving at Inle Lake was somewhat confusing. The first thing we saw was the small port where the boats leave to tour the Lake, a very noisy place and with the caramel-colored coffee water. In addition, the main road of the town is a street that does not stop changing month by month for the number of houses that are being built and for the new arrival of the banks and the ATMs. It is somewhat chaotic first thing in the morning by people who walk towards the market or by the amount of motorcycles or cars that go to the pier.
Nyaungshwe, Inle Lake
With regard to prices, the Inle Lake area is usually somewhat more expensive than in the rest of Myanmar. For example, a GIN Tonic in Mandalay is 2,000 Kyats and in the Inle Lake 5,000 Kyats in a similar location.
To enjoy Inle Lake you have to be at least 3 nights. The first to rest and make your first dive in the area after a long trip by bus or plane. The remaining two, one to see the lake by boat and the other to go through bike that we treat in another article of Travel for free. Two ways to see the lake and each one hides its little surprises.
About the city of Nyaungshwe, this can be traveled on foot or by bicycle, where you can discover several stupas, a large market, souvenir shops and a multitude of hotels and restaurants, many of them with a certain European aspect, we always say it, Myanmar is changing !! Rent a bike The whole day is around 4,000 MMK.
Nyaungshwe, Inle Lake
The boat route
The boat route departs at Sunrise, to be able to enjoy the light and the exit of the fishermen. Renting a boat is 16,000 MMK, negotiable price if you speak directly with fishermen and do not process it directly from the hotel. They have capacity for 5 people, but if you pay the 16,000 MMK you will go alone, like a king.
He pier It is a noisy place by the engines of the boats that leave full of tourists, others that transport fruit, vegetables or any need of the inhabitants of the town. After all Lake Inle is a great way of communication between the different villages that inhabit its surroundings.
© OpenStreetMap contributorsDownload
If you look closely at the map you will realize that 50km by boat They look like many. This is why the 16,000 MMK are very cheap after all. In any case, nothing heavy or uncomfortable is done.
Inle Lake Map
Once on the boat, make sure you don't miss the following points:
- Floating villages.
- Floating gardens.
- The loom and the smithy.
- He monastery of jumping cats.
The routes that boatmen do travel differently floating markets and fishing villages. Normally they know where they are going to fish and which only the best places to take a good memory and a good photo. Carries waterproof and sunscreen, it can rain at any time and the boats except for the umbrellas do not usually have a roof. Besides, you can buy food in the markets or eat in any of the floating restaurants on the route. Just tell the boatman.
The first part of the tour is navigated with some floating gardens where vegetables are grown on small islands. It is in this part where many fishing points are crossed and where the art of the lake is seen, its way of fishing, almost acrobatic and whose technique was born in this remote place of Asia.
Later on, floating villages and markets arrive. The markets rotate from place every 5 days, changing from city to city, perhaps to facilitate tourism or to the different villages in the region. In mid-August we could see them south of the lake.
The southern villages They are usually the most inhabited and with the largest markets. In these markets, mainly for locals, it is possible to buy both food and clothing, but lately there are small places for tourists with the opening of a hotel and the frequent arrival of boats fromNyaungshwe If you are looking for tranquility and something truly different On the lake, stay in this area and enjoy the floating restaurants.
Looking at shopping Every boatman without exception usually takes you to stores in incredible places on the water where they sell silverwood fabrics, knives or anything imported from China or handmade in Myanmar. In some of them you can find the Giraffe women from eastern Myanmar or northern Thailand, trying to be the source of attraction for you to buy something. It's a shame how these people are used only to attract tourists.
We recommend visiting the loom, where you work with the lotus flower, wave smithy, a place with almost medieval appearance. In the case of the smithy, it is fascinating how they hit the metal, a trade so old and now extinct in Europe.
Although some boatmen take you to these two places so that you buy is not obligatory, they do not even bother you or force you, it is worth seeing. For example, on the loom, women weave with incredible postures, something that marks the lake, barefoot and with an artisanal delicacy, delicacy that they lose when trying to charge you large amounts for a dubious quality sweater but truly handmade.
About the stores that operate at Giraffe women, speechless. These stores have them to attract tourists, as if they were objects, willing to sing a song or play the guitar. They are like robots, almost soulless, and if they have it, it is for you to pay them a few dollars to sing a song to you. Of course, this is a small exploitation, almost slavery.
After the markets were the floating villages, possibly the most beautiful of all Inle Lake. Crowd of houses on the water, with walkways between them. To go to school or go shopping, you have to take a boat. You can't live if you don't have your own boat, the main means of transportation for the entire lake.
At the end of our tour we went to visit the jumping cat monastery with the little fortune of not being able to see the cats jump. Just when we arrived they were sleeping a peaceful nap. If you want to see them really jump, go first thing in the morning.
When to go?
They say that the summer and the rainy season should be avoided, but it is true that it is the best time of the year to contemplate the much greener Inle Lake, but be careful with the mud if you are going to trek. It is also true that the days are usually cloudy and usually accompanied by heavy rains.
The rest of the year the heat is really unbearable and even dangerous at certain times of the day.
How to get?
The best way to reach Heho is in airplane, since it has a small airport. Companies like Air Bagan, Air Mandalay or Yangon Airways fly directly from Mandalay or Yangon. All in Skyscanner. They have roughly the same price when they belong mainly to the state.
From Mandalay to part you have to take into account the cost of the Taxi to the airport, about 8,000 kyats per person, since it is almost 30km from the city.
Where to eat / dine?
There are many places in Nyaungshwe where you can enjoy traditional Chinese or Myanmar food, we leave you the restaurants that won our palate:
- View Point He more expensive of the city, but a place with free internet and the best Gin tonics. These amenities must be paid.
- Beyond Taste Near the Golden Empress they have good local food.
- Star flower. One of the best Italians in the city. A small escape from local food.
Where to sleep?
We chose to sleep in theGolden Empress, $ 25-30 per night, low-medium price, since most of the accommodations were astronomically more expensive or because of the price difference they didn't give much more. Of course, everyone usually has internet and fan.
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