Inle Lake is in the centre of Myanmar with the nearest large population area Mandalay, over 7 hours away by coach. There is an airport flying within an hour of the Lake but many arrivals come by land. It is certainly worth spending time at Inle Lake during your Myanmar travel for a variety of reasons, not least because it provides a chance for you to see rural life which has not changed a great deal over the years.
The reasons to go to Inle Lake are many:
• The hill tribes who have had little contact with the outside world over time. Tourists are welcome and an increasing number are visiting now that Myanmar’s relative isolation has ended.
• Daily life around the Lake is based upon fishing and agriculture. It is a fairly hard life producing the food to feed everyone. Everyone seems happy with their lives and that is a lesson to everyone.
• The flora and fauna are lovely. The birds are probably the main attraction and those who go to the Lake during the rainy season have a good chance of seeing the nesting Pheasant-tailed Jacana which is a splendid sight.
• The natural attractions are there for people prepared to rent a ycle, or better still, who are prepared to go trekking, especially in the nearby mountains.
Those whose main interest during a Myanmar travel package is the environment must surely go to one of the community projects, Inle Speaks, that aims to ensure the Lake remains in good condition. It is the life blood of many villages on top of its beauty. Inle Lake is the permanent home of many species of birds and a temporary home to many more migratory birds.
When it comes to natural attractions, Htat Eian Caves are certainly worth exploring. You will need a torch to see the Buddha statues where you are likely to find people meditating and praying. Some may stay for days. There is also a monastery nearby where the monks are happy to talk to you.
One of the cultural experiences is to go to Khaung Daing Village where you can sample the traditional home-made food. There is not only a huge range of dishes to sample, there is a local alcoholic drink made from rice and sugar, but beware its strength. You can cycle there and back if you like but don’t if you have an extra glass of the drink.
Also on a cultural theme, puppetry is traditional in Myanmar and there are evening shows with puppets and Burmese music that last about 30 minutes. The show is in a small theatre east of Golden Kite.
During your Myanmar tour you are likely to see many pagodas. There is an annual festival at Phaungdawoo Pagoda which house 5 Buddha images that have been covered in golf leaf by worshippers. If you have any time left. Walk along Museum Road to the Cultural Museum to learn more about Shan and Burmese history.