Explore Inle Lake by bike or boat?
Cycling around or boat trip for Inle Lake? Unlike Bagan, there is no e-bike option in Inle Lake.
A little wiki about Inle Lake
Inle Lake is a freshwater lake located in the Shan State in Myanmar. It is the second largest lake in Myanmar with an estimated surface area of 44.9 square miles (116 square km) with an altitude of 880 meters above sea level.
During the dry season, the average water depth is 2.1 meters with the deepest point being 3.7 meters. This can increase by 1.5 meters during the rainy season. The lake drains through its southern end.
What is the weather like in Inle Lake in December?
Due to its altitude, mornings and evenings can get really chilly. However during the day, the temperature can go up as hot as 30 degrees during the dry season.
Again, I don’t feel cycling in the heat was a joyful activity.
What to do in Inle Lake?
Day 7, after lodging into The Hotel Emperor Inle we had a quick rest and enquired about suggestions from the reception. This hotel offers free bike rental. As you can imagine for free stuff for tourists, the quality of the bikes was a little poor. It wasn’t a comfortable ride whatsoever. It is better for you to find a proper rental place and get a maintained bike.
Going around Inle Lake on a bike is extremely tiring. Unless you are very fit.
Nyaungshwe town became the center point of the area for us, we first headed north. About 3km away from Nyaungshwe, we visited Shwe Yan Pyay. It is a small but amazing 19th century red teak decorative structure with large oval windows standing on stilts. When we got there, the monks were having their lessons. Visitors were allowed to enter the building and have a wander.
After visiting Shwe Yan Pyay, we returned to Nyaungshwe town center again then turned into the cycling pathway indicated on the tourist map. Some parts of the cycling routes were not paved, they were just dirt roads with potholes. I gave up with this poorly maintained bike and returned to the hotel to find an alternative activity. My friends completed the journey between Nyaungshwe and Mine Thauk jetty, which was about a total of 24km round trip.
Exploring Inle Lake by boat was a much more joyful
I hired a boat for sunset over Inle Lake for just MMK 12,000 (9 USD), all to myself! This was a much better option. I booked the boat through my hotel reception, the price offered was cheaper than what you can find online or through a tour agency.
The boat owner collected me from the reception at 3pm. She spoke very little English but well enough to understand what I needed. The Inle boat station was 2 mins walk from my hotel. The owner then sent her son to take me on the trip but who didn’t speak a word in English. Communication between us was difficult but manageable.
Nyaungshwe to Mine Thauk by boat takes about 25 mins
Mine Thauk village sits by Inle Lake. A 411 meter long teak bridge connects the main jetty port to the village, it’s also known as a “mini U-Bein bridge”. It’s one of the main destinations for a boat tour on the Inle Lake.
Teak is a classic building material that is native to Myanmar. This long bridge cast long shadows on the surface of the lake at sunset. Reflecting a mountain range just beyond the expanse of green wilderness that edges around the lake.
The port was busy with a few local residents when I arrived. I wanted to visit the Forest Monastery which on the map it looked so close. One local motorbike taxi driver approached and offered me 300MMK for the round trip, I regret that I didn’t take it and instead I decided to walk. It was a mistake as I trusted the boy and understood what I wanted to see… Anyway, sometimes we just have to support the local community to make our journey more enjoyable.
It was a little far to walk to the Forest Monastery from Mine Thauk boat station. I decided to save the time for the sunset over Inle Lake.
Fishermen posing on Inle Lake, would you support them?
This is a little controversial topic. Fishermen in their craft, should be fishing over the lake regardless whether someone is there to see it. The traditional fishing pose had been advertised all over the internet, just like in this post. It’s kind of a cool pose from a distance, and people want to photograph them. It has become extremely commercialised, all fishermen on the lake would just sit all day long waiting for tourists to turn up. As soon as a boat is approaching, they would start posing for the visitors cameras.