Inle Lake is a large freshwater lake surrounded by hills in the Shan state of central Burma. The shallow lake that is about 18 kilometers in length is a place of scenic beauty with a relaxed, tranquil atmosphere.
How to get there
Inle Lake can be reached by air, bus or train.
The airport nearest to Inle Lake is Heho airport on NH4 National Highway about 35 kilometers from Nyaungshwe. A taxi from the airport to Nyaungshwe will take around 45 minutes to one hour and cost around 35,000 Kyat. A taxi booked from hotel or local travel agent will cost between 15,000 and 20,000 Kyat.
There is no direct bus service to Inle Lake. The nearest long distance bus station is Taunggyi, about 25 kilometers from Nyaungshwe. The 630 kilometer trip from Yangon to Taunggyi takes some 14 hours, one way tickets cost 16,000 Kyat (US$ 19). From Mandalay to Taunggyi, the 300 kilometer trip takes some 8 to 9 hours and costs 10,000 Kyat (US$ 12).
The train station nearest to Inle Lake is Shwenyaung, about 12 kilometers North of Nyaungshwe, the largest town around the lake. The train ride from Thazi to Shwenyaung is known for its scenic beauty. The very slow ride takes about 10 hours; tickets cost US$ 3 for ordinary class, US$ 8 for upper class. From Shwenyaung, take a taxi or bus to Nyaungshwe.
The most fun and often quickest way to get around in the Inle Lake area is by boat. Renting a boat carrying up to five people will cost about US$ 20 for a day. Travel agents and hotels offer standard tours that include several stops at places like a handmade cigar factory, a weaving factory or a blacksmith. At most of these places are shops where you will be offered items at much higher prices than elsewhere. Often, tribal people or children with animals pose for photos for a fee. To avoid the shops, head for the pier and hire a boat from its owner. Make sure to agree on price, duration of the trip and places to go to.
Many places around Nyaungshwe are close enough to be reached on bicycle. Renting one for the day will cost around 1,500 Kyat.