Believe it or not, you may have never heard of this place, but it’s my favorite place in Myanmar. Its name is Inle Lake. As dreamy as it sounds, it’s a place where heaven and water meet. The sky is blue, the air is fresh and most importantly, it’s a place surrounded by crystal clear water! Here’s everything you need to know about Inle Lake boat tour.
Why take Inle Lake boat tour?
Unless you are actually staying on the lake at some expensive resorts, you can’t really see the lake without doing a boat tour. Most of the hotels and guesthouses are located in a small village called Nyaungshwe, approximately 30 mins away from the lake by boat.
We stayed in Spring Lodge Inle, a very beautiful hotel in Nyaungshwe. The hotel is brand new, clean, spacious and most importantly, the owners are super friendly. Rarely can you find a hotel of such good quality in rural places like Inle Lake.
What to take note of Inle Lake boat tour?
Depending on what time you want to start your tour, your boat tour guide will pick you up directly from your hotel. The tour lasts about 6 hours and I highly recommend you to go for either sunrise or sunset tour, as they are the most amazing moments of the day.
Do note that if you are traveling during the winter season (Nov to Feb), which is also the best season to visit Myanmar, the weather is very cold during day and night. So do bring a warm jacket (yes no kidding!) so that you can fully enjoy the boat tour. A hat and a pair of sunglasses are recommended too as the sunlight is strong.
If you want to avoid looking for your own tour or using a tourist agency as a middleman, I would highly recommend trying the boat tour guide we engaged. You can ask staff from Spring Lodge Inle to book the tour with him in advance.
Nyunt Pe – Boat Driver (+95 9428316291)
20000 kyat, or about $18 USD total for the whole boat (2-5 people).
What to expect in Inle Lake boat tour?
During your 6-hour boat ride, you are going to see a lot of things. Beautiful scenery, amazing people, and unique culture. So are you ready to be on board?
Once you hop onto the boat, you’ll soon be led to the open lake. You’ll probably be busy snapping photos of the surrounding. But trust me, this is just a beginning. Even better things are coming! So put on the life-jacket and get ready to embrace the brisk wind and changing scenery. Apart from safety reasons, the life-jacket will keep you warm too!
Inle Lake boat tour – Floating Garden
One iconic scene from Inle Lake you shouldn’t miss is its floating gardens. In most parts of the world, people plant food in the earth. But because Inle Lake has more water than land, locals there actually make use of the lake for agriculture. How? Basically, they use bamboo poles to secure clumps of land, water plants and grasses to the mud below the water, then farmers plant their vegetables in the soil. How ingenious isn’t it!
If you look closely, the floating garden is so secure that it can actually support people’s weight. And when our guide Nyunt Pe stepped on it, it looked like he was stepping on a waterbed. So cool!
Nyunt Pe told us that they plant many different types of vegetables in Inle Lake, including tomato, cucumber etc, and they will sell it to the rest of Myanmar.
Inle Lake boat tour – Lotus Silk Weaving House
I’ve heard of silk weaving, but lotus silk? It’s a first time I’ve ever heard of such thing! I was so amazed that the locals can make thread from fibers found in lotus stems.
The sticky, elastic fibers are pulled out of the stem while simultaneously being hand rolled to other fibers to create a long thread.
The thread is just the beginning, they locals will then go through several processing steps, such as machinery, glue, weaving to make the lotus silk stronger.
The thread is then used to make scarves and other items. And because of the tedious hand-making process, the price tag for each item is rather steep. But you can choose not to buy, the locals won’t be pushy at all.
Inle Lake boat tour – Hand Made Cigarettes Workshop
Throughout Burma you’ll notice people, often older women, with green leaf cigarettes hanging out the sides of their mouths and small stands splattered with ingredients as they hand roll various cheroots and small packages of betel nut to chew.
The Inle Lake area, in particular, is known for its flavored cheroots like coconut, anise, pineapple, mint and even banana. You can sample the different kinds before buying a pack for your self – ten hand-rolled cheroots will run you $1-2.
Inle Lake boat tour – Local Villages
The lake is the livelihood of these people, so you are bound to pass by many local villages. This is a good chance for you to observe people’s lives on the water. Everything just feels so slow on the lake…
Inle Lake boat tour – Golden Temple
There’s one famous temple inside Inle Lake, and their Buddha statues are very different from the rest of the temples in Myanmar. The four Buddha do not have any features. Basically, they are shapes with spirits. Locals say that they are very powerful, and they hold an annual festival to worship the four Buddha.
Inle Lake boat tour – Long Neck Women
For whatever reasons, there are three long neck women at one of the shops that sell paper umbrella. They are the Karen women who lengthen their necks with metal rings. They will happily pose for photographs before some friendly assistants will walk you through the shop, pointing at the purchasable items apparently made by the women.
I find it rather strange as it’s pretty staged. Probably this is the only place that I don’t recommend coming. But if you want to have a photography with the ladies, by all means. They won’t push you to buy anything after all.
Where to stay in Inle Lake?
Many visitors come to Inle Lake for a couple of days, so that they can enjoy the beauty slowly. And I highly recommend staying with Spring Lodge Inle. The large hotel has only 14 rooms. Each room is spacious, clean and beautifully decorated, and you can enjoy a lot of privacy during your stay.
Depending on whether you are traveling as a couple or a family, the hotel will have a perfect room for you.
Even the bathroom is super spacious and modern. It feels so good to soak in a tub of hot water at the end of the day…
In Myanmar, both guys and girls love to put a natural sunblock on their faces. The hotel even provides a brand new one for you, which is the wood looking plant in the picture below. All you need to do is to add a little bit of water to the plate and grind out the sunblock.
Each room also has a unique painting, and they are all painted by hands! How pretty isn’t it?
The hotel also has a restaurant that serves very good food. A continental breakfast is served every morning. All the bread is freshly baked and so yummy!
With the cosy decoration and the beautiful views outside of the window, the experience is just first class…
And if you are in for a swim, there’s also a super clean pool right inside the hotel, a rare find in Inle Lake.
On top of the that, you can also rent bicycles for free from the hotel and explore the area. My family and I had such an amazing time cycling around the field and taking awesome pictures with animals and the blue sky!
If you have any requests or questions during your stay, feel free to approach the hotel staff or the owners. They will be so happy to help you. They even allow us to have an early check-in and late check-out without any charges. How kind they are!
Hope my post has inspired you to visit Inle Lake, the most beautiful place of Myanmar. If you are staying with Spring Lodge, help me to say Hi to the owners and tell them that I miss them! In the meantime, happy traveling!
Check out my vlog below to explore the beauty of Inle Lake with your own eyes! Subscribe to my Youtube channel for more awesome vlogs!