a guide to Inle Lake, Myanmar

Inle Lake is full of breathtaking scenery where water meets mountain. The food can be hit or miss, but there is a peaceful atmosphere that makes Inle a must-visit for anyone traveling to Myanmar. 

Here's a guide to help you plan a stay in Inle Lake...


Where to stay?

There is no shortage of accommodation in Inle Lake. Hotels, hostels, and guest houses can be easily found around every corner, though prices and standards vary. 

I stayed at the Sweet Inn in a bamboo bungalow similar to the one I've visited {and re-visited} in Nong Khiaw. The bungalows have their own private bathroom and fans to help keep you cool. They aren't fancy, but you get a full-sized towel and complimentary breakfast. 


How to get around?

The best way to discover Inle Lake is by bike. You'll be able to stumble upon the best off-the-beaten-path spots and it's {obviously} more efficient than walking. Rentals can be found for as little as USD$2 per day, just shop around. 


What and where to eat?

The best food I had in Myanmar was Indian food at Inlay Hut, a small hole in the wall near the main canal. Every dish is made fresh by a man who calls himself 'A.K.A. Stan.' He's the self-proclaimed 'World's Biggest Eminem Fan' and plays the rapper's entire discography throughout the restaurant. It's not a conventional pick-- A.K.A. Stan curses and wears anti-Trump t-shirts. But the service is fantastic. When we couldn't decide between chapati and paratha, A.K.A. Stan brought us out both so that next time we dropped by we would know which bread we preferred. When we pointed out that he hadn't charged us for a beer, A.K.A. Stan shrugged and said kindly not to worry about it. 

For those who have traveled around East Asia before, you know that there is a pancake trend which exists. Thin, crepe-like pancakes can be found around Inle Lake and are good for a cheap snack stop midday. I suggest Inle Pancake Kingdom

The best kept secret in Inle Lake food, however, is Bamboo Hut. Go here for a taste of true Burmese food and hospitality. Also, the views from the restaurant are beautiful. 


We also stopped at the Eco-Cafe, a social enterprise run by youth from Inle who take the profits from the cafe and invest them into environmental efforts. There are vegetarian and vegan options and all the menu offerings are sourced from the local market. Unfortunately, there is clearly more learning that can be done. My drink came out with a plastic straw and a plastic stirrer and the woman bringing in the groceries carried them in plastic bags before throwing them in a can with other rubbish {i.e. no recycling}. Obviously, the concept of the cafe and the fact that it is organized by youth from the area is still impressive. The food was fairly tasty too, but don't go expecting to see the highest of eco-standards. 


What to do?

The hike from Kalaw to Inle Lake is famously the main attraction of Inle. Due to the time constraints and way we mapped our visit of Myanmar, we didn't do the hike. It's a bit more expensive and harder to find a guide in the low-season to hike from Inle to Kalaw, thus it's advised you take the traditional route from Kalaw to Inle. It's also said that the hike from Inle to Kalaw is more physically demanding and the payoff is less since Kalaw is a bit of a drive-through village and Inle is absolutely gorgeous. If I ever make it back to Myanmar, I'll be sure to make the hike. 


Take a boat tour of the lake and its floating villages. A tour will cost you about USD$20-40 depending on which company you book with. We booked a tour with through our guest house. This fee is for the boat, so the more people you have with you the cheaper the tour. It cost me and my travel companion each USD$10 for a full day and a private boat. The tour takes you to the floating villages to shop and visit the many pagodas. Our tour included an inside look at a silk and lotus weaving 'factory', boat making workshop, and cigar 'factory'.  

Enjoy the serene backdrop from the comfort of a spa. We went to Lavender Spa near the main canal. The service was fantastic value for money and we were served fresh green tea upon arrival and before we left the spa. 



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