The Inle Lake and its fishermen rowing with only one foot and the setting sun in the background… Do you have the image in mind? It is indeed these landscapes that we will talk about in this article: the mythical Inle Lake of Burma! It is obviously a must-see during a trip to Burma.
How to join the lake Inle since Bagan or Yangon?
We booked a night bus on the internet directly because our host did not speak well English and he did not understand what we asked him. We took the company JJ Express. A little more expensive than the others but that of very good opinions. We wanted to spend a good night not to lose one day than to be tired. It was thus 14$ per person the way. The pickup hotel included. That is to say that they had to come to pick us up at the hotel between 8 pm and 10 pm (yes always wider the slot aha) and it must arrive at the Lake Inle at 8 am. The pick-up bus arrives around 9:30 pm. Fortunately that it is not this bus that takes us to Lake Inle because the air conditioning was at the bottom, we were frozen! We go up then in the “real” bus and there it is the shock… It is HYPER luxury! We never took a bus like that in Asia, there it is the super-class! Especially when we compare to the buses which we took in Cambodia or in Vietnam… We are really happy to have chosen this company for only 3€ more than the other. We have a plaid, a glass of soda, a box snack, and very comfortable armchairs. That is not for as much that we slept this night on the bus. We were shaken in all the directions, surely because of the road which was not good, we had to sleep 1 hour. The bus made several stops for the toilets and pauses and yet we arrived at… 5 am, instead of 8 am. You surprise me that it shook in all the directions, to gain 3h, it flew! So take it into account when you book your trip, the buses often arrive earlier than expected in Burma.
Where to sleep to visit Inle Lake? Our great hotel!
Most tourists coming to visit Inle Lake book a hotel in Nyaung Shwe, a small town north of Inle Lake. This is what we did by booking at Emperor Hotel. As I told you above, we arrived at 5 am in Nyaung Shwe. We had booked the first night for the evening and not the day before so in theory, we should have waited for our check-in at the hotel around 12:00. We had a lot of luck, they were adorable because we rang at 5 am in the hotel. 2 men slept on the sofas in the reception of the hotel. Phew, they open us and propose to us directly a free room at 5 am. What luck and what kindness, in more we woke them up! We rest until 10 am because we had not slept too much on the bus.
After some research I found that we could not book rooms at the Emperor Hotel, I do not know if it’s because of the virus, the works or others so I put you 2 other hotels with which we hesitated, they are super well noted, they are 3 stars and just next to the Emperor, they are Inle Strand Hotel (18€ the night) and the Golden Dream hotel (21€ the night).
First impressions of Nyaung Shwe
First images of the city, when we arrive at the hotel and we open the window, the sun rises and the city wakes up slowly. We hear the noise of the engines of the boats.
After 5 hours of sleep, we decided finally to go to a walk-in Nyaung Shwe. There does not seem to be much in this city, it is very dusty (especially on the main road where the vehicles circulate) and it is poor. We decide to go for a walk in the market, in the hope to cross some people. In any case, no tourists in the market, we are the only ones.
There are some locals who come to buy fruits. I take advantage of it to take some photos (passion photo in markets!).
We fall then nose to nose with a big building where there is noted down “sky bar”. We go up to the last floor, the bar is closed but we take advantage of the view of rice fields. Then we go to the bar Chillax Bistro to drink a coconut! We finish the day by discovering the rooftop of our hotel. Nice view!
How to visit Inle Lake? Where to book a tour?
To make a tour on the Lake Inle the following day, we decide to inquire in different places. There is a pier with a lot of boats near the hotel, we go to see by here. There are several locals who want that us come with them.
We find “tourist information” near the lake and the pier where we are going to ask about the prices. It is not an office of tourism as we can find in Europe, it is rather to the Burmese, there is simply a lady behind a table and… it is all. After negotiation, she proposes us a tour to 20000 Kyats (including the visit of the pagoda Shwe In Dein because otherwise, it was 2000K in less). We decide to take it here (in the hotel it was 28000). By the way, I recommend you to visit this pagoda, it is really particular, I have never seen anything like that. (you’ll see some pictures below). When you book the tour, you can choose at what time you start the excursion. We decide to leave at 8 am to have time to go to the market.
A day of excursion by boat on the Inle Lake
That’s it, it’s the D-day, we are super excited! The only worry, here they are rather cool and not in a hurry. So at the hotel, they take a long time to serve us the breakfast, the dishes arrive one by one and every 15 minutes. They are so nice that it is complicated to tell them something. We take our pain in patience and I make some return with the room to continue to prepare me while they bring the breakfast. We arrive at 8:10 am, our boat driver (captain of the boat? I do not know how to call it therefore expect the boat driver in this article!) waits for us to the pier. He asks us to put on the life jackets.