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Relax by the floating villages of Inle Lake

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Getaway Category: Adventure & Nature, Culture & Heritage, and RelaxGetaway Tags: Asia, Inle Lake, and myanmar

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  • Located at the Shan state, Inle is Myanmar’s second largest lake (at 44.9 sq mi surface area) and was the first area to be designed as the country’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The locals are known as Intha and there are 70,000 of them living in the small cities along the lake’s shores.

    Many of them still live in simple wooden and bamboo stilt houses with a strong farming and fishing tradition. A trip to Inle Lake can be relaxing, but also culturally eye-opening—Inle Lake is a truly unique destination which you should add to your Southeast Asia bucket list and it is also one of the top places to visit in Myanmar.




    Day 0 in Yangon, Myanmar

    10.30pm: Arrival at Yangon International Airport

    You will likely arrive quite late in Yangon. Get a good rest and find an accommodation nearby the airport as you need to depart tomorrow morning to Heho.

    Day 1 in Inle Lake, Myanmar

    10am: Depart from Yangon International Airport

    Make sure you arrive at the airport around 1.5-2 hours earlier to be safe!

    11.30am: Arrival at Heho Airport

    Upon your arrival, take a cab to the town of Nyaung Shwe, which will be the starting point for your Inle Lake exploration. Journey time from the airport to Nyaung Shwe is about an hour.

    Do note that there is a compulsory MKK 12,500 entrance fee to the Inle Lake area, to be paid at the permit booth by the bridge to the entrance of Nyaung Shwe. This fee allows you access to Inle Lake for a duration of one week.

    1pm: Lunch at ViewPoint Lodge & Fine Cuisines

    After the long journey, it’s great to chill at ViewPoint Lodge, which as its name suggests, has a nice view. The dishes are a fusion of traditional Shan food with a Western presentation, which makes an excellent introduction to bridge you into the world of Burmese cuisine. Expect to pay around MKK 15,000-17,000 per pax.

    Yone Gyi St, Nyaungshwe, Myanmar (Burma)

    2.30pm: Mingalar Market

    Make a quick stop at Mingalar Market to observe the local life. You can find many dwarf vegetables as well as antiques here. Or simply enjoy people-watching!

    If your accommodation is located a bit further away from the Nyaung Shwe city centre, you may have to skip or cut short your time at Mingalar Market.

    Mingalar Market, Nyaungshwe, Myanmar (Burma)

    4.30pm: Sip some wine and enjoy the sunset at Red Mountain Estate

    Rent a bike at Nyaung Shwe and cycle about 3km to visit Red Mountain Estate, one of the best wines in Myanmar. Along the way, you will pass by the beautiful countryside along the southern Shan state. For about MKK 5,000, you can sample four different types of local produce.

    They also offer a menu of Intha cuisine and other local dishes, which you can view by clicking here. Take some time to try the delicious local meals and order some glasses of wine while watching the gorgeous sunset. Sunset is slightly after 5.30pm.

    Return to your accommodation after the dinner at Red Mountain Estate.

    Day 2 in Inle Lake, Myanmar

    10am: Nampan Village & Floating Gardens

    Board the boat for around one hour to the southern end of the lake to visit Nampan, a traditional floating village with wooden houses built on stilts. Here, you can spend some time visiting various attractions such as a local cigar (“cheroot”) factory and Alodauw Pauk Pagoda (a gem-encrusted golden shrine).

    To the north of the village, you will also find floating gardens where the local Intha people have grown vegetables and flowers over generations—a tradition unique to Inle Lake.

    11.30am: Ywama Village & Floating Market

    Next, head to Ywama traditional settlement, one of the most well-known of its kind in Inle Lake especially due to its famous and vibrant floating market. In Ywama, you can also find Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, which is one of the holiest sites in the Shan state.

    October is Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival season, and if you happen to visit during this time, Ywama is bustling with activities. There will be one-leg rowing competitions between the villages, which can be quite a sight to behold!

    12.30nn: Lunch at Mr. Toe Restaurant

    Feast on carp and other fresh catches from the day in this open-air restaurant. As you enjoy your meal, you can spot the famed one-leg rowing Intha fishermen passing by the village.

    The restaurant also offers traditional Shan cooking classes in a village house near the restaurant, which must be pre-booked via info@go-myanmar.com if you’d like to discover the secrets behind the delicious Shan cooking.

    2pm: Indein Ruins

    Partly covered by the forest, this beautiful ruins cluster is truly worth a look! It consists of hundreds ancient stupas overgrown with bushes, which makes it really unique and different from other pagodas in Myanmar.

    4pm: Maing Thauk

    Make a quick stop at Maing Thauk, where you can walk along a wooden bridge with half the stilts built over the water. Enjoy the afternoon breeze before you move to your next stop.

    5pm: Sunset and dinner at Inle Heart View Restaurant

    Along the road between Maing Thauk and Nyaung Shwe, drop by this remote restaurant which offers organic local food made from local vegetable produce. More notably, it faces the west and makes for incredible views as the sun slowly sets around 5.30pm and casts beautiful orange shade over the lake. Meals cost around MMK 3,000-4,000.

    As the night falls, make your way back to your accommodation. Inle Lake area can be quite poorly-lit after dark and you wouldn’t want to be stuck somewhere unfamiliar on a pitch-black night!


    Day 3 in Inle Lake, Myanmar

    9.30am: Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery

    Make a quick morning visit to Shwe Yan Pyay while en route to the airport. Dating back to the 19th century, this wooden monastery is uniquely painted in red with oval windows. Inside the building, you will find mosaics and golden ornaments.

    You can spend about 1.5 hours here and walk along the nearby Tharzi Pond. Around 11am, get ready to depart to the airport.

    12nn: Arrive at Heho Airport

    Catch your flight home to Singapore (via Yangon).




    Places to stay in Inle Lake, Myanmar

    Prices listed are based on average daily rates for a Standard Room.

    Affordable

    Inle Lotus Hotel is located right at the city centre of Nyaung Shwe and is no doubt a comfortable choice for those seeking value accommodation with decent comfort.

    Price range: SGD$56-92

    Mid-range

    Golden Island Cottages is a pleasant choice for a floating resort with a good view. Its proximity to key monasteries and pagodas also make this a convenient choice.

    Price range: SGD$108-242

    High-end

    Novotel Inle Lake is the most luxurious resort on the shore of the lake with over the water villas and fantastic sunset views that will make you fall in love. 

    Price range: SGD$354-496

    Places to stay in Yangon, Myanmar

    Prices listed are based on average daily rates for a Standard Room.

    Affordable

    Roly’s Hostel is located right next to the airport and is thus an excellent choice for those looking for a simple bed for the night. The hostel also features a sun terrace and garden views.

    Price range: SGD$16-53

    Mid-range

    Yangon Airport Hotel is your best bet if you’d like a basic accommodation that is not a hostel. Rooms are comfortable and they come equipped with LCD television as well as basic amenities.

    Price range: SGD$63-70

    High-end

    Myanmar Life Hotel is more like a 3-star property, but is nonetheless among the best option among accommodations near to the airport. The hotel has an outdoor pool and garden views. Free airport shuttle service is provided.

    Price range: SGD$77-105

    Getting to Inle Lake, Myanmar

    Inle Lake is located nearby the town of Nyaung Shwe, which is accessed via Heho Airport. From Heho Airport to Nyaung Shwe, a taxi costs about MKK 25,000 and the journey time takes about an hour.

    You can fly to Heho Airport with Myanmar National Airlines, which runs several flights between Singapore-Yangon and Yangon-Heho.

    The recommended flight routing would be to take a Friday night flight from Singapore to Yangon (9.15-10.15pm), followed by a morning Saturday flight from Yangon to Heho (10-11.10am).

    For the return flight, you can take the 1.25-2.10pm flight from Heho to Yangon, followed by the 4-8.30pm flight from Yangon to Singapore.

    Getting around Inle Lake, Myanmar

    If you stay in Nyaung Shwe, you can walk around the town without much difficulty. If you stay on any land-based accommodation outside Nyaung Shwe, it is recommended to rent a bike or pre-book a tour beforehand. If you stay on the lake, getting around will be slightly more challenging.

    Regardless of where you stay, you can get your accommodation to help you rent a boat. Or you can make your way to a bridge around the western end of Yong Gyi Road in Nyaung Shwe, where you can then board a boat for the day. A standard day trip costs around MKK 15,000-18,000, or MKK 20,000 if you include Inthein into your itinerary. Each boat can usually carry up to 5 passengers.

    If you would like to explore the countryside, you can rent a bike from Nyaung Shwe area for around MKK 1,500 daily. Bikes can be combined with a boat ride as a hop-on-hop-off activity. Boat trips may be different in price depending on the distance, but a good starting point is around MKK 8,000 to ferry you and your bike across the lake for a shorter distance.

    Other important notes

    Time difference

    Inle Lake is 1 hour and 30 minutes behind Singapore.

    Best months to visit

    Inle Lake can be enjoyed anytime between October and June. October to March is the dry season and is thus the best season if you’d like to avoid rainfall, however Inle Lake can get a little cold late night and early in the morning.

    October is particularly interesting as Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival takes place during this month. During this festival, you can find Buddha images around Inle Lake villages, as well as the one-leg rowing competition between the villages.

    In a nutshell, you can’t go wrong as long as you avoid the wet season of July-September.

    Things to pack

    • Sweater is essential as nighttime and early morning in Inle Lake can get quite cold.
    • Hat, sunscreen and sunglasses always come in handy as you will be under the sun for a long period during your boat trip.
    • Ditto for umbrella or raincoat in case of rainy days as boats are usually not covered.
    • Earplugs can be useful to muffle loud motorboat engines.
    • A small flashlight with batteries.
    • First-aid kit.

    Safety

    Inle Lake is dark and poorly-lit at night. You are advised to go back to your accommodation right after sunset as the visibility can be quite bad after that.

    Helplines

    • Police: 199
    • Ambulance: 192
    • Fire: 191

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