Inle Lake, situated in the Nyaungshwe Township of Shan State, Myanmar, is the second largest lake in the country. For tourists visiting Myanmar, Inle Lake promises in experience like no other, which balances the mesmerizing natural beauty and rural Burmese culture. Scattered around Inle Lake are 17 different villages, old ruins of Buddhist temples, and so much more, that will promise more than a pleasant trip.
Situated at the heart of the country, the lake is surrounded by mountains, created a secluded ecosystem unique to the lake itself. The quaint lake is also a wildlife sanctuary, with many species of animals and fauna native only to the lake and surrounding regions. Visitors can also be immersed in the local culture, with over 17 villages surrounding the lake, still being able to keep their traditional lifestyles. One can come to Inle Lake and returned satisfied in most goals one may have in mind: either a retreat, or a cultural trip, or even a wildlife hiking trip. Let’s dive in and see what activities there are that can satisfy so many goals.
Take a boat trip on the lake
Nothing better when visiting the lake than moving on the lake itself. The vast, near endless view of the lake, fresh air and mesmerizing view of the nature before starting everything else is an unforgettable experience that every tourists should enjoy when visiting the lake. Beware, although Myanmar is a relatively hot country, Inle Lake can be incredibly cold, especially when you are on the water and the sun has not fully risen.
Gold and Silver smith workshops
It is not everyday that you can see gold and silver ware being made from scratch. Producing precious metal has long been the tradition of Burmese people, but it is arguably more detailed and unique here comparing to other places in Myanmar. Visitors to workshops can see how precious metal be handled, and crafted into beautiful silver and gold ware by the hands of skilful craftsmen. With a reasonable price, some products can be bought or custom made.
Walk to Nyaung Ohak
Located closely to the Inthein Village on Inle Lake, Nyaung Ohak is a group of stupas (a type of Buddhist construction) in various states. Some are under repair, some have trees growing inside them, some have offerings of local people, all spell the ancient remnants of a once great empire that used to rule over nowadays Myanmar, and the vastly religious culture of Myanmar.
Take a Shan cooking class
No doubt that during the course of your stay in Inle Lake, you will be served delicious Shan cuisine dishes. Now, you can learn how to cook one yourself. Cooking classes in Inle Lake can be hosted by the hotel or resort you stay in, or by tour company that guided you. However, they will most always give you the full Shan culture, including a trip to the local market for fresh ingredients.
Visit the long-neck tribe
The Kayan Lahwi people, also known as Padaung women, are a minority group that exists in both Myanmar and Thailand. Nobody knows why they lengthened their necks and when have this tradition evolved from. One may feel uncomfortable to see people as an “attraction”, but fret not, as these women in Inle Lake will even encourage you to ask questions, and more than willing to share their practice.