Inle Lake is a very beautiful and relaxing place to visit. We found 2 full days to be perfect to see everything we wanted to see.
1. BOAT TRIP (DAY 1)
We booked our trip as soon as we got off the night bus from Mandalay and managed to catch the sunrise. There are planty of boats, so you can either book thrugh an agency, your hotel or even directly at the boat jetty. Keep in mind that your boat guide will ask you specific places you want to see during your trip and will stop by different wood, jewelrly, silk and other local craft shops that are complete tourist traps. We had already heard of this tourist trap so we told our boat guide that we had no interest in any workshop and thus skipped to only the sights we were interested in. Also, make sure to bring warm clothes, as it gets very cold and windy on the boat!
Local Fisherman at Sunrise
Spoiler alert… the fishrman are complete posers that come close to your boat, do a couple poses and then ask for some money. We were honestly expecting to see real fishermen at work, but instead got these very nice posers instead (I have to say, they got me some real nice photos though). The sunrise on the day we went was very gloomy and cloudy, but it became sunny after 8am, so overall it was not too bad.
Hpaung Daw U Pagoda
Rated one of the most beautiful pagodas in Myanmar, this pagoda from a distance is a real sight. Your guide will give you an hour or so to roam around the pagoda and the market there, which has amazing souveniers at really cheap prices.
Not to miss is the floating villages, your guide will take you to the bigger ones, such as Nampan and you will be able to see the incledibly interesting life people have around that area. You will see young kids paddling a boat from house to house or women paddling to nearby floating shops to buy groceries, there are even restaurants and a post office, all on water.
The cat monastery is a teak building known for its jumping cat shows and is one of those tourist traps that can be easily skipped. Enjoy the building from your boat, as inside it is definitely not that special.
With no land to grow crops on, Inle Lake is known for its reliance on its innovative floating gardens for crops. while cruising around the floating gardens I suggest to ask your guide to stop the engine and just paddle to get a more peaceful experience.
2. BYCICLE TOUR (DAY 2)
On our second day at Inle Lake we rented a bike and cycled around vast cultivated fields, hidden pagodas and dirt roads. We ended up really close to the forest monestary, which we had no energy to ride up to, so we turned left instead and walked along the small wood teak bridge on inle lake. We ended our trip at Jasmine Spa, with a relaxing aromatic oil massage (only 13000 kyat) we booked the previous day.
Do not forget to apply sunscreen, I was stupid enough to think I would not get burned and instead got it really bad! Water and Sunscreen are crucial.
3. VINEYARD VISIT
On our way back to town from our bicycle tour we stopped by the Red Mountain Winery to take a rest. We tasted their wines and sat on their terrace sipping cold Coca Cola to cool down. The place is stunning and it’s the perfect spot to take a break from cycling.