We arrived in the Inle Lake area from Kalaw where a car and driver had met us after 6 hours on the slow train from Thazi. Just over an hour later, we stopped at a kiosk to pay the $5 USD “InnLay Zone” fee soon and pulled into Nyaungshwe and to the ViewPoint Lodge & Fine Cuisine, our very comfortable home for the next 4 nights.
This region is located in the Shan State and the predominant ethnic group populating the area is different from Yangon and Mandalay. There are also quite a few other ethnic groups living in the area often times easily recognized by their colorful attire. Regardless of the ethnicity, we found the people in Inle Lake to be gracious and hospitable, like we found them to be just about everywhere in Myanmar.
On at least one day of any trip to Inle Lake, travelers should try to visit at least one local market. In the Inle Lake area, there is actually a rotating market day in five different locations over a five-day period, known appropriately enough as the “five-day market“.
- Sunday – The Heho Market is about 45 minutes from Nyaungshwe near the airport
- Monday – The floating market in Ywana
- Tuesday – Mine Thauk on the East Bank of Inle Lake near the Pagoda, Blacksmith shop and other crafts
- Wednesday – Khaung Daing (also Kaungdaing) market is on the West Bank of the Lake. This is the one we visited on our 2nd day of touring the lake on boat. Khaung Daing village is also the location of the hot springs.
- Thursday – The Nyaungshwe market is the largest of the 5 markets. There is a 7-day a week market area in Nyaungshwe but it swells with vendors from other villages on Thursday.
There is lots of other things to do in the area. We spent 4-nights there and were only scratching the surface. As you can read in our restaurant review section, we thought the food in Nyaungshwe by far the best we enjoyed in all the places we visited in Myanmar.
Any visitor to the area should plan to spend time on a boat visiting villages and points of interest around the lake. Some people opt to simply head down to one of the jetties under the Nyaungshwe Bridge and negotiate for transport directly with a boat captain but we wanted the benefit of a guide. So we booked 2 days of lake tours with Ma Su, the owner of Century Travel hitting many but by no means all of the high spots of the area.
There is no “set” tour and any program suggested by your guide or boat captain can be easily modified by request by the traveler. As any reader of this web site knows by now, some in our group have a special interest in weaving so we wanted an extended visit to the Khit Sunn Yin weaving center where weavers work with 3 different threads: lotus stem fiber, cotton and silk and Ma Su was happy to accommodate our request.
You can get lots more detail on all of those topics by following our links.