Inle Lake tourist trap or tranquil beauty
You may have read many reviews of Inle Lake being the latest in tourist traps, and they are right! But should that be enough to deter you from seeing the beauty of Inle Lake? Read on to make your decision.
A lot of what is available to do in Inle Lake is only available by boat tour. Away from that there is bike riding you can follow winding dirt roads into the countryside and visit Monastery Mam Thouk Forest. There’s the option to use the natural spas for $10 with a private pool. If you are in to wine, you can go to Red Mountain Estate winery Paramount. For foodies you can take a cooking class at Bamboo Hut or one of the many in the area.
For a detailed review of transport and travel costs see our blog 🙂
Once you get on your bike and away from the town you will no longer be hassled to buy a tour (or bike!). You can easily spend a day looking around, although you will still be fairly limited if you want to see the water. The Wooden Bridge truly is a beautiful sight. Before we dismounted our bikes, around 2 KM away to be precise we started to be followed by a guy on a bike trying to sell us a boat tour or crossing. As you walk down the jetty and try to enjoy the sights you will be hassled and followed. We tried to ignore this as there was so much beauty to see, locals whizzing by on their boats, floating gardens and houses on stilts. The bridge its self is the only way to see the lake without going onto a boat. As we already had our boat booked we didnt want to go on one or pay to cross the river, as we heard they overcharge for this. We attempted to sit at the end of the jetty for a few minutes to take in the sights. However, sitting there was difficult as every 30 seconds or so someone else will try to sell you a boat to see something. We ended up walking back up the jetty to the next sitting area where we had no problems. The guy who had been following us for miles gave up and others assumed we had just got off of a boat. It was then we finally got to enjoy it a little.
On foot you will not be able to do a lot in Inle, there are plenty of western restaurants in the area as well as a few temples, however if you are travelling around Myanmar you will see plenty of picturesque temples! Another option is to book an alternative excursion like a cooking class with pickup.
Itinerary of set half-day boat tours
After asking around it seems the half day tour schedules are all very similar. We used a tour service provider called Active and Authentic Travels and Tours which we were very pleased with but you can also bargain a boat anywhere in town or by the dock. We did this for our sunset tour which we paid 8,000 Kyat for after bartering.
- Fisherman on the lake, you will see the tourist fisherman and real fishermen, real fishermen are the ones with nets on rods whereas tourist ones all wear the same pants and have the traditional funnel catching device.
- Market – the five day market could be on your agenda depending on the day filled with tourists trinkets at the front and local market at the back
- Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda is a pagoda on the lake edge, for boat trios you must cover your shoulders and down to your knees.
- Floating Gardens – the floating gardens are huge and one not to miss long sweeping canals and intricate mazes of homes on stilts alongside every vegetable you can imagine along the canals.
- Cat Monastery, with lots of cats roaming around that are tame.
- Indeain Pagodas, this is included on longer boat rides including crumbling old ruins.
- Weaving factory, where you will see how they weave lotus stalks into thread
- Umbrella factory, chariot factory, boat and cigar factories all have their own charm with no hard selling although of course they would like you to purchase souvenirs. All of these places are in close proximity, all of the work takes place in large wooden buildings stilted onto the water. Workers will describe to you the process of their work.