Inle Lake is located in the Shan State of Myanmar, about 260 km south of Mandalay. The easiest way to get to Inle Lake (and the most comfortable) is by domestic flight. The closest airport is in Heho, a 1-hour taxi ride to the lake. However, the most common option is to take the bus. Buses depart daily from Yangon (12 hours) and Mandalay (8 hours) and cost anywhere from $14 – $20 USD depending on how luxuriously you like to travel.
The place where tourists usually stay is Nyaung Shwe town, which has many markets, accommodations, restaurants, and travel agencies.
1. Photograph The Traditional Fisherman
Depending on which Inle Lake tour you book, some will have a set route set. However if they don’t, you can simply tell your guide where you’d like to go and what you’d like to see.
One of the most famous things here is the fishermen and their unique art of sailing and fishing.
Balancing on one leg and showcasing the way in which they use their feet to control the oars, they leave their hands free to fish using big conical nets.
Certainly an interesting watch, these fishermen will pose for photos in exchange for a tip and you get to witness firsthand how the professionals catch their dinner.
2. Cycle your way round an Inle Lake bike tour
One of the most popular things to do in Inle Lake is hire bikes and do the cycle loop round the lake. Our hotel offered bike rental for 2000MMK (approx. £1.10) for a few hours. However, we rented from a shop on the street called Century Inlay for the entire day for only 1500 MMK and we didn’t have to return the bikes until 6pm.
Given that the lake is 22km long and 10km wide, the Inle Lake cycle loop takes anywhere between 2-4hours, depending on the route you choose. You may also have to take a short ferry ride to the other side. In the 40degree heat this sounded too much like hard work, so we found somewhere far more suitable to cycle to – a winery.
3. Lotus & Silk Weaving Centres
From a lotus plant, to a silk shirt – would you believe it.
Another of the many talents you’ll witness on your Inle Lake tour, is the skill of Lotus weaving.
More than 100 years ago, local women began weaving textiles using fabric made from the lotus flowers that grow on the lake.
Nowadays, the centres display each stage of the lotus-weaving process, as an employee guides you through the process from beginning to end, and it’s extremely interesting to witness.
As you can imagine the end result and the items of clothing in the shops are pricey, due to their high intense labour and time consuming production.
However, these centres are still great place to visit, as you get to experience another step by step guide through the family run factories of Inle Lake.
4. Visit The Long Neck Tribe
The Kayan Lahwi people, also known as Padaung women, are a minority ethnic group with populations in Burma and Thailand.
Sometimes known as the “long necked” tribe, the brass coils in fact compress the rib cage and displace the collarbone, creating the illusion of an extremely long neck.
No one is really sure how the custom evolved. The Kayan have no written language. Even elders don’t know.
Some believe the theory that it was a way to make the women less attractive to slave traders, or to protect the throat from tigers. Others believe that a long neck is simply considered a mark of great beauty.
Either way, you must meet these women on your Inle Lake tour. They were extremely friendly and welcoming, and were asking questions about our own families back home.
According to wanderersandwarriors.com and faramagan.com