Myanmar Travel: Inle Lake Boat Tour

Inle lake is situated in the south of Nyaungshwe Township of Taunggyi District. It’s an inland freshwater lake. A popular place for tourists coming to Myanmar hoping for a unique experience. No wonder it became famous knowing there are various sites to explore from cultural, natural, religious or their pagodas and also interacting with the local Intha people. it’s also the second largest lake in the country with a 44.99 square miles and an elevation of 880 meters.

Here's the map of Inle Lake, hover your browser to this map

One of the fascinating things to do in this place is the boat tour which is also the only venture that most tourists like to do first. Some are staying on the hotels located in the lake wishing to capture the best moment and experiencing a life being on the lake. There are quite a few available places to stay in Inle lake that you may check them here. 

Others prefer nesting in the main town and visit the lake on a day tour. Like myself, I prefer settling in the town, thus,  the Three Seasons Inn and Spa became my home for 4 days. Surprisingly, this place charged for $7 per night for this low season (I was here the month of May). With that amount, I could not contain the happiness as they give me a huge air-conditioned room (luckily as the temp was on 45C) with great amenities. Such a great treat for myself.

Myanmar Travel Inle Lake Boat Tour at the Canal
Myanmar Travel Inle Lake Boat Tour at the Canal

The very first day being on this town, I randomly speak to some tour agencies I saw nearby about the boat tour, and also talked to a few tour guides around the area including the one from Three Seasons Inn. I found out that most agencies go to the same places as those souvenir shops and some workshops which are set up for tourists. Apparently, this is not my kind of thing which leaving me to finally decide of hiring the guide from Three Seasons Inn. His kind gesture, fluent in English, great knowledge of the country and high energy are the reasons why I picked him.  Although the rate is obviously expensive than taking a group tour, I strongly trust that having him on the tour will satisfy my craving for the informative trip, deeper understanding of the culture, honest advice and great interaction of the local people in Inle Lake.

Hiring a boat on same tour day at the canal is the best way to negotiate a price if traveling solo. The payment of $10 for the boat with only the guide and I as their passengers surely win my trading skills since it’s also on a low season. The usual rate for this is about 18,000-25,000 Kyat or $12-$25 The boat is structured as a long tail motorized boat with no roof, but organized chairs settled in front equipped with umbrellas to cover from the heat of the sun or in case it may rain. Please note that not all boat have umbrellas, in fact, only a few of them have this.

Myanmar Travel Inle Lake Boat Tour Fishing Skills
Fisherman in Inle Lake showing his fishing skills

Fast forward to the first stop after minutes of riding is sighting a one-man fishing boat. Looking at the fisherman stands at the end of the canoe wrapping his one leg around the oar while the other leg guiding him in balancing his moves. This is their way of fishing casting out the cone-shaped nets as they hunt a carp. This an unusual fishing technique from Burmese fishermen has been my goal to witness before visiting the country. Although, it may disappoint a bit since the first fishermen we interact are doing it for the tourists and expecting a tip in return. With full awareness of the situation, because my guide shares the idea prior to this activity, I urge the tour guide of making a stop so I can catch a glimpse of this. Without a doubt, I politely and willingly give the fisherman a reasonable tip. I still believe it’s an experience I don’t want to miss because I clearly wanted a photo of them with their colorful longyi on and a slow movement of their fishing skills.

There are more fishermen come insight as we are approaching the village near the floating garden. The reality exists from this people, different ways of fishing where largely a group of local taking weeds from the deeper lake, placed them on the boat, making all the space full and a mountain of weeds on it ready to transport to the floating garden.

Before visiting the floating garden we first look around the lakeside villages where houses are constructed on bamboo piles and connected to the lake floor. Built in different sizes from small to third story houses having space below intended for their boats to dock in. Arriving at the place at almost 10 in the morning, we seldom capture people around as they have been roaming everywhere in the lake doing their daily work.

Myanmar Travel Inle Lake Boat Tour another Fisherman with his fishing skills
Another Fisherman in sight before heading to floating garden in Inle Lake for a boat tour
Myanmar Travel Inle Lake Boat Tour in Floating Garden
Inle Lake Boat Tour at the Floating Garden
Myanmar Inle Lake Boat Tour Houses in the village
Houses in Inle Lake on one of their village near the floating garden

Floating garden. A huge one. Green environment. Well organized. Magnificent. Unconventional.

That’s how I vividly remember describing the floating garden on that day.

A floating garden is a place where Intha native people (a tribe from Inle Lake) produce or grow vegetables on floating islands which are an accumulation of weeds and water hyacinth. Tomatoes are the largest crop they grow in the area. There are also beans, gourds, cucumbers, flowers and other root vegetables.

Myanmar Inle Lake Boat Tour in Nga Phe Chuang Monastery
Myanmar Inle Lake Boat Tour in Nga Phe Chuang Monastery

After a great encounter in the floating garden, we set foot in Nga Phe Chuang Monastery a place where monks taught some of the cats to jump through hoops. It’s also where a collection of Myanmar’s Buddha images can be seen.

A few meters away from this monastery is the local lotus weaving factory in Paw Khon Village. There are a lot of these on the lake but I specifically asked my guide to visit a factory where more old women and men are working. The process is extracting the lotus stem individually from the plant which makes into a fiber thread. The lotus stem is being twisted then pulled revealing its thin strand. Putting this tiny strand into a wooden workbench splashing some water to keep its moist. Repeating the process to more stems and group together those filament creating a thick thread. The process is time-consuming, after extracting and pulling the thread, these will be dyed naturally or artificially. Artificially meaning they put a color on the thread rather than showing it’s natural color. These are then weaved traditionally using their own weaving equipment. Lotus cloth and fabric are rare that’s why it’s expensive. To get a lesser price they also have those lotus fabric mixed with silk and cotton. I didn’t buy anything which I regretted their products are worth keeping for. Poor me.

When lunch time came, we transport to another site. This time it’s the Cheroot Cigar factory. Yes, a cigar. I don’t smoke but I got curious and they also offer free stick for tourists to try. This cigar is known in the country as the sweet cigar. I tried one roll, no reaction as I obviously have no idea about smoking thus can’t tell the difference. They use the cheroot leaves creating the cigar. Blending with different ingredients rolled inside the brown sugar, tamarind, rice wine, banana and many others. Price is at 1,000 Kyat/packet or $1.30 from the factory, outside Inle lake the price more than that.

While I am really satisfied with my half day tour, my guide gladly sends me to a restaurant with a stunning view. From there, taking a great moment for my time, the food is great and their banana shake appeased my thirst. Aghast by the view, where the mountain from afar is calling for its own beauty. That moment is a moment of self-happiness, that I dreamed of having when in Inle Lake.

One of the things my guide did is giving me the flexibility of time, he made sure I am having a great time and making use of it the way I want it. Thus, after my delicious lunch and a great time at the restaurant, we headed to Phaung Daw OO Pagoda, one of the Buddhist site in Inle Lake. It has a Gold Leaf with 5 images of the pagoda where only men can place those gold leaf into the images. It is also a place where one can understand about their history for the 18-day pagoda festival.

Phaung Daw OO Pagoda in Inle Lake Myanmar
Phaung Daw OO Pagoda in Inle Lake Myanmar

The last stop of my long day trip is the Kayan (Padaune) Tribe. There are also women stationed in the northern part of Thailand, but this one from Inle Lake makes it a better site witnessing this tribe. Although it is set for the tourists, there is better place meeting them which is in the Shan State where, unfortunately, I had no other time to make a visit. Regardless of this set up in the lake, I still am dignified having met them in person. They don’t speak English thus my guide came to rescue. To know more about this tribe, you may check it here.

Kayan Tribe in Inle Lake Myanmar
Kayan Tribe in Inle Lake Myanmar

Paying for about $12 for the boat plus the $32 fee for my guide is personally all worth it. I don’t regret shelling that amount for the guide for he was a big help for all things needed during the day, most especially answering my questions and making sure my request is granted. After all, this is what we had agreed for.

You may contact the guide here: Yannaing Soe

Things to note:

  • The boat tour is a whole day, there is group tour available too at a reasonable amount just make sure you know where they stop.
  • Bring a hat or something to cover your head as the boat is wide open
  • In case it may rain, a rain jacket will help bring them with you
  • A mosquito repellent is needed as well
  • Make sure you have a dry bag keeping your belongings dry.
  • Bring drinking water with you to keep you hydrated.
  • Kindly wear a proper dress as a respect to them.
  • Please LEAVE NO TRACE.
  • Have you been to INLE LAKE in Myanmar?
  • Do you have any place or things to suggest that might add to this list?
  • Does this article help you?

**Comment Below, I would love to hear

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Myanmar Travel in Inle Lake Boat Tour

Author: Ferna Mae

Ferna is a spontaneous traveler from the Philippines who had a great experience traveling her own country first before she embarked to other countries. She thrives to be more independent in her own skin. Connect with her at everywherewithferna@gmail.com

14 thoughts on “Myanmar Travel: Inle Lake Boat Tour

  1. What a fun time we had at Inle Ferna! You did a great job breaking it down. We visited last year. Gotta bring a hat to protect your head, neck and shoulders from the sun. Our guy had umbrellas just in cased it rained. We also brought water and some soda for a little sugar energy too as we were in and out of the boat quite a bit. Great time, awesome people and WOW that lake is huge.

    Ryan

  2. This looks like a great boat tour. The area looks so quaint and peaceful and has a hilly setting I can see. I love scenery like this and wouldn’t mind trying this when I get to Myanmar.

  3. What a great deal you got for a boat and guide! Well done! Do you think you’ll try to get to Shan State to see the other tribe?

  4. You certainly can’t argue at the price of the room! The lake sounds like a lovely place to visit to learn more about Burmese culture and life on and around the lake. Part of me wishes that tips aren’t necessary, but I think it is part of travel now, as a thank you for letting us watch people’s day to day lives!

  5. I have never been to Myanmar. But it looks like I will have to add a boat tour to Inle Lake. At $7 per night I would definitely consider staying if I visited at the right time. Thanks for the suggestion about hiring a private guide. We have found this works better some times. The fishing technique for carp would have been fun to watch. I had no idea they made cigars in Myanmar! It certainly sounds like a full day.

  6. I have been wanting to visit Myanmar and Inle Lake for many years. And finally in February this year I visited them.
    Your post took me back to the lake, the fishermen… Wonderful memories !
    I love Myanmar a lot!

  7. Looks like a fun boat tour! I especially loved your photos with the tribe. Looks like Myanmar has a lot of similarities with Philippines, they even both have Pagoda Festivals!

  8. We didn’t have time to visit Inle Lake when we went to Myanmar. Definitely sounds like you at least need to spend a night since the boat tour is a full day.

  9. This is such a lovely local experience The floating garden is quite a lovely concept and to see it must be amazing. Love your interactions with the Tribes and the captures of the Amar… Especially the fisherman

  10. Hi! Where else’s in Myanmar have you been? I lived in Yangon for more than seven months and shame that I wasn’t able to visit Inle Lake! This we missed but thanks for showing us around! Great captures – but how about the food? Did you get to taste their Mohingya? I’ve heard there are varieties of tastes – depends on where state in Myanmar you’re in.

  11. You see when you travel and start talking to locals, you might end up going on an forgettable tour which you will enjoy the most. It happens to me many times. I actually enjoyed these tours more than the ones I already planned

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