After Mandalay, we then headed south to Inle Lake, where there’s a traditional fishing community thriving on the influx of tourists. While incredibly beautiful and serene, Inle Lake was the one place where we felt that tourism had started to change the local culture. We had experiences here that were similar to what we’ve experienced in Thailand and Cambodia (i.e., children asking for money).
Having said that, we still thoroughly enjoyed the food, the lake, the gorgeous sunsets, and the entertaining fishermen. To be transparent, one of the fishermen pictured below posed for us (the one with the circular net), but he’s a legitimate fisherman during the day, that makes extra money on the side during sunset.
Much like Bagan, the sunsets here are epic. For a small fee, you can get a person to take you out on a long boat taxi to watch the sunset from the middle of the lake; the hotels are also a great place to view the sunsets as most of the resorts that have sprung up over the past few years are right on the lake. When we went in 2016, there were 120 resorts either completed or under construction! The pictures below are from a boat and also from the Novotel Inle Hotel.
One very unique experience we had was to eat at the Inle Heritage Hotel. This hotel was built to provide training to young Burmese so that they can build a better future for themselves and their families. The rooms in the hotel typically sell out a year or more in advance so we did the next best thing and visited the restaurant there. The food is all organic and locally grown (on the property) and was absolutely delicious. The service was excellent and the whole experience was one that we won’t soon forget.
Plenty of Resorts
With Inle Heritage full, we stayed at the Novotel Inle Lake and had a great time there. The hotel is very nice and perfectly located for beautiful jaunts out onto the lake and to watch the sunset. One tip is that the buffet dinner is more happening than the a la carte menu downstairs.
The Indein Temple complex is another staggeringly beautiful place to visit in Myanmar with its huge golden pagodas. We were lucky to have a little guy to be our guide; this adorable puppy kept us company and posed the moment a camera was pointed at him.
Textiles and Crafts
Out on the lake, there are a number of places you can visit to buy locally made clothing and crafts. Some of them are quite touristy and pricey so go in with that in mind and shop carefully. I’m all for supporting the local community, but some of the prices at Inle Lake were up to 2x more than the same item we purchased in Bagan. Perhaps it’s costly to get the goods to that location.
Inle Lake would have been the perfect way to end the trip, with rest and relaxation and the beautiful sunset lake views to take in every night, but we had other plans. We wanted to celebrate New Years Eve in Yangon so we headed back to what has now become one of our favourite cities in the world. You can read all about our Yangon experience in the first post of the series.
We went to Myanmar in 2016 and it’s now 2019 when I’m writing these posts, but the country remains our favourite country that we’ve visited thus far. It’s a very special country with very genuine and generous people. If I were 10 years younger, I’d pack my belongings into storage and I’d move to Yangon and start a business. The country is full of incredible opportunity, and bursting with energy from a population that has been unleashed to reach their full potential.
Given the pace of development, the time to go is now before the country changes too much. We already saw signs of that change in Inle Lake and I’d imagine the other cities touched by tourism will follow suit. I can’t wait to visit Myanmar again and am curious to see how the country will have changed in that time.
Thank you for taking the time to read about our Myanmar experience; I always appreciate any comments or questions that you may have. Please write your comments or questions below, you don’t have to sign up or login to post.