Days 3-5 of our 12 Days in Myanmar (Burma) trip.
Unlike any other place that we have ever visited, Inle Lake is a beautiful water wonderland where daily life is lived on the fresh-water lake.
Day 3 – Flight: Yangon – Heho (taxi to Nyaungshwe)
We took an early taxi to the airport (8,000 MMK / 6 USD) for our 8 AM flight to Heho Airport (132,300 MMK / 98 USD each).
We flew with Air KBZ Airlines on both of our domestic flights and could not have been happier with our experience. We used FlyMya to compare prices and to book our flights. After booking our tickets, we decided to alter our itinerary and needed to change our second flight. FlyMya was terrific to work with and the change was quickly and painlessly made by communicating through online chat!
We arrived at Heho on-time at 9:10 AM. At the airport, there is no haggling on the taxi fare to Nyaungshwe; it is set at 25,000 MMK / 19 USD. The only way to reduce the price is to find additional people to share the ride.
We travel very light and only had a small carry-on each. On both domestic flights, this allowed us to simply walk out the door and straight into a waiting taxi while everyone else on the plane waited to retrieve their luggage.
On the way to Nyaungshwe, the taxi stops at a checkpoint for you to pay the Inle Zone Entrance Fee (13,500 MMK / 10 USD each).
We stayed at The Hotel Emperor-Inle (56,700 MMK / 42 USD). The hotel is in a fantastic location, the room was very nice, and the staff was very accommodating. Our favorite feature of the hotel was the terrific views from the rooftop.
We explored the town on foot before having lunch at Ever Light II Indian Restaurant. It was delicious, and we would return again before we left Nyaungshwe!
After lunch, we walked to the boat jetty to arrange a boat for exploring Inle Lake the next day. We agreed on the price of 20,000 MMK / 15 USD for the full day, specifying that we wanted to visit Indein (also Inthein) Village. Politely declining to pay a deposit, we shook hands on the deal, and agreed to meet at 8 AM at our hotel the next morning.
Many people bemoan the handicraft tourist stops included in the tour. These stops include lotus weaving, silversmithing, cheroot making, boat building, and Kayan (Long Neck) scarf weaving. If you would rather not stop, simple explain this during your initial negotiations. You may have to pay a higher price if the boat driver is calculating commissions from the shops into the pricing. Having never seen lotus weaving (and being life-long students of business, tourism, and marketing!), we opted for the Full Monty.
The Hotel Emperor-Inle has free bicycles for guests to use. The bicycles are in great shape, and we took advantage of them to go on a ride to explore the west side of Inle Lake.
While the hotel provides bike locks, we always travel with a heavy-duty security cable and disk padlock if we plan to rent bicycles, or if we will need to secure our luggage.
We rode to Hupin Kaung Daing Resort for a good view of Inle Lake.
On the return trip, we stopped at Innoo Ancient Pagodas.
Finally, we explored the village of Khaung Daing before heading back to our hotel.
You can make a loop out of the bike ride by taking a 30 minute boat trip with your bikes (8000 MMK / 6 USD) from Khaung Daing to Maing Thauk (or vice versa). Since we were doing a full day on the lake the following day, we felt the additional boat ride was unnecessary.
Day 4 – Nyaungshwe (Inle Lake)
Our boat driver was waiting for us outside the entrance to the hotel as we walked out at 7:45 AM. He led us to our boat, and we settled into the very comfortable seats for our journey.
Tip: Dress warm! While blankets are provided, I was glad to have ear muffs and a warm jacket to combat the early morning wind-chill.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the day! It is a very full day; we visited many different handicraft shops, two temples on the lake, and Indein Village. Your trip may differ in the order of events and the specific individual handicraft shops, but it will be very similar. Since there is no planning involved, I will simply highlight our five favorite things from the day on Inle Lake: The Boat Ride, Indein Village, Hpaung Daw U Pagoda, The Floating Gardens, and Inle Lake Daily Life.
1. The Boat Ride – We love boat rides! The ride across Myanmar’s second largest lake (116 square kilometers) was exhilarating, and the lake’s famous fisherman provided a beautiful backdrop as they fished for our lunch.
Riding through the stilted villages is relaxing, and the large seats were by far the most comfortable boat seats that I have experienced. Being comfortable makes all the difference on a full day trip!
2. Indein Village – The village is situated off the lake and is reached by navigating the very scenic Inn Thein creek. The additional distance and time that it takes to get to this village is why it costs extra to add a visit to your trip. The village is famous for its ancient crumbling temples and large market.
There are two main sets of pagodas in Indein: Nyaung Ohak and Shwe Inn Thein.
- Nyaung Ohak pagodas – Most of the pagodas have not been restored and are in various states of repair.
- Shwe Inn Thein pagodas – A 700 meter covered walkway leads up to the pagodas. There are over 1000 stupas. Some of the stupas have been repaired, others are crumbling and being taken over by the jungle. Most of the stupas were constructed in the 17th and 18th centuries.
For even better views, there are two additional sites north of the village. Located behind and above Shwe Inn Tain Monastery, this is a nice hike that yields terrific views in all directions. There is a very high likelihood that you will have the views all to yourself!
The ancient pagodas at the top of the hill are a great place to relax and enjoy the quiet and peaceful views.
3. Hpaung Daw U Pagoda – We had lunch next to Hpaung Daw U Pagoda (also Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda) – lake fish, of course! After lunch, we walked across a connecting bridge to visit the beautiful temple.
This temple is famous for the Hpaung Daw U Buddhas – five small golden Buddha images covered in so many layers of gold leaf that the original form is completely hidden.
4. The Floating Gardens – We enjoyed seeing how vegetables and fruit are grown in large gardens that float on the surface of the lake.
5. Inle Lake Daily Life – Our favorite part of the day was simply witnessing everyday life on the lake. Children playing hide and seek at lunch, groups of children rowing themselves home after a day in school, fisherman fishing, farmers farming, early morning commuters heading to work in Nyaungshwe – simply people living life!
We returned to Nyaungshwe at 4:30 PM. We had a very fun and relaxing day on Inle Lake. It surpassed all of our expectations, and the trip was over too soon!
Day 5 – Nyaungshwe (Inle Lake)
On our last day in Nyaungshwe, we decided to take advantage of the hotel’s free bikes and make a full day of exploring the area around the town and the eastern side of Inle Lake.
South of Nyaungshwe, we discovered Payar Gyi Monastery, a fantastic monastery with ancient temples that have been reclaimed by nature.
It was a great treat to find such beautiful ruins unexpectedly. We marked it with MapFactor so that we can share the GPS coordinates with you!
We continued our ride to Maing Thauk Monastery. It is a very steep climb up to the Monastery and pagoda. The last portion of the bike ride was a bike walk (worth the effort for the exciting bike ride back down!). The views of Inle Lake, Maing Thauk village, and the surrounding area were not as good as we had hoped. Power lines and trees blocked most of the view. It was fun, however, exploring the monastery and seeing the monks.
After visiting the temple, we rode to Maing Thauk to find a lunch spot. The village of Maing Thauk is built on both land and water and linked by a 450 meter wooden bridge. We locked up our bikes and spent time exploring the village.
Remember the bike loop? You can make a loop out of the bike ride by taking a 30 minute boat trip with your bikes (8000 MMK / 6 USD) from Khaung Daing to Maing Thauk (or vice versa). This is the opposite side of the lake from Khaung Daing and boats are available.
We had a relaxing lunch (more fish!) at a stilted restaurant at the end of the bridge.
As the day wore on (and we wore out), we made our way back toward Nyaungshwe, trying to beat the rush hour traffic.
That evening, we arranged an 8 AM taxi through our hotel to get to Heho Airport for our 10:10 AM flight to Bagan.
Up Next: Read about Bagan, Myanmar!
GPS Coordinates: Day 3 Day 4 Day 5
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Heho Airport @ 20.743056,96.792778
The Hotel Emperor-Inle @ 20.661084,96.92661
Ever Light II Indian Restaurant @ 20.661001,96.927257 (estimate)
Hupin Kaung Daing Resort @ 20.592667,96.875968
Kaung Daing @ 20.619389,96.883941
Indein Village @ 20.460898,96.842162
Nyaung Ohak Pagodas @ 20.459192,96.841307
Shwe Inn Thein Pagodas @ 20.455717,96.836451
Shwe Inn Tain Monastery @ 20.462107,96.841394
Shwe Inn Tain Monastery Pagodas @ 20.465383,96.839100
Hpaung Daw U Pagoda @ 20.474310,96.890192
Payar Gyi Monastery @ 20.649073,96.935812
Maing Thauk Monastery Pagoda @ 20.579122,96.959473
Maing Thauk @ 20.580642,96.942000
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You can copy and paste the latitude and longitude into Google Earth, your browser, or into your GPS.
*Disclaimer- ALWAYS verify locations, transportation routes, GPS coordinates, etc. Errors are made, routes changed, sometimes we are just plain wrong. No one knows what you like more than you. If the trip is worth doing, it is worth doing right! Do your homework.