One of the real experiences of Myanmar travel and indeed taking an Indochina tour, is to meet the local people, see their daily lives and the womnderful natural environment in which the villagers live. Within Myanmar, one of the best places to do this is Inle Lake which is home to many villagers, depending both on agriculture and the Lake’s waters for their livelihoods. The Lake is 22 kms. long and is located in the centre of the country, to the south east of Mandalay.
The Lake is one of the things that is regularly included in Myanmar tour packages, and quite rightly so. If you are wondering about the best things to do during yourtime at Inle Lake, read on:
• A boat trip is obvious. Avoid some of the obvious tourist enterprises on the Lake but the Lotus textile weaving factory is authentic and the Phaung Daw U Pagoda deserves some time. There are lakeside restaurants if you need refreshments.
• The Lake is a haven for ornothologists. There are water birds that nest in the area as well as birds that pass through on their migration. In the dry season, perhaps December and January ideally, migratory birds are around though others nest in rainy season in the months of summer.
• The 5-day market is interesting, selling fresh local produce and it has been unaffected by the presence of an increasing number of tourists.
• There are a few companies renting bicycles and cycling amongst the surrounding villages is certainly fun. There are hot springs on the road towards the mountains for relaxing; the two pools are manmade incidentally. Alternatively head just a few kilometres to visit the Red Mountain Winery.
• If you enjoy walking, this is an ideal place to do it. There are hills to explore and a hike to Kalaw is certainly worth a couple of days of your time if trekking is one of your hobbies. You should get a local guide and explain how far you are prepared to walk if you allocate a day for hiking during your Myanmar tour package. There are a number of hill tribes living here whose lives have changed little over generations.
• Shan cookery classes are available and you can impress friends and family at home if you go to learn some basic dishes. You will start by visiting the market to buy the seasonal produce and finsh by eating what has been prepared.
• Massage is an Asian tradition and Myanmar is no exception. You can get a relaxing Burmese massage in PhyuPhyu's Bamboo Hut on YoneGyi Road near the bridge.
• One skill you may not use again but it is fun to learn is Stand Up PaddlingInle-Style. You will be taught how to balance and navigate as well of course the stroke. It is a method used by the fishermen on the Lake; they make it look so easy.It isn’t but if you fall in the Lake, it is only shallow.