Lake Inle

One of the most visited places in Myanmar, Lake Inle is a tourist trap, but an enjoyable one. It’s the second largest lake in Myanmar, but a very shallow one, with the average depth only 2.1m and the deepest point 3.7m.

The main town is Nyuangshwe, though it’s not on the lake itself, but connected by a channel. The sunset views over the water were still pretty wonderful though.

It is home to the rather attractive Yadana Man Aung Su Taung Pyay. Somehow after two weeks and endless monasteries, temples and pagodas I was still finding new variations.

The Lake Inle Cultural Museum is pretty average, if housed in a grand teak building that was once the palace of the King of the Shan state.

The reason for visiting Nyuangshwe though is to get out onto the lake, and there are plenty of boats willing to take you. They’re noisy and tippy but pretty fast and good in shallow water.

Heading out of the channel onto the lake are plenty of fisherman striking poses for the tourists, and presumably occasionally catching some fish, though the lake is pretty polluted in places.

It is also had been shrinking thanks to the floating gardens which over time become land, but their spread is now restricted.

There are plenty of villages literally on the lake, with buildings on stilts over the water.

Those who enjoy craft demonstrations and shopping are well catered to with among others, silversmiths, boat makers, blacksmiths, umbrella makers, silk weavers, and cigarettes makers. Thankfully their sales pitch isn’t too pushy and the demonstrations are usually informative.

Being Myanmar you don’t have to travel far to find monasteries and pagoda, some even on stilts in the lake. A few were of interest, including Aung Mingalar Pagoda, Phaung Taw Oo Pagoda, and Nga Hpe Kyaung (Jumping Cat Monastery though there aren’t any jumping cats anymore, and the carved wooden Buddha are more interesting).

The best though was Shwe Inn Dein, home to 1,054 pagodas, reached via an outlet from the lake. They form a colourful forest of pagoda.

The following day I explored Lake Inle by bike with 50km of cycling to the south east and west of Nyuangshwe. To the west has more stops of interest along a slightly hillier road than to the east.

First stops were the mildly diverting Inn Tain Pagoda and tofu village. The local and professional hot springs were an interesting contrast but I didn’t take any photos for some reason.

The goal was reached after 14km, the lush Hu Pin Khaung Daing Village Resort on the shores of the lake. Beyond my budget to stay at but an interesting place to explore. The many steps up to the nearby Shwe Myin Htin Pagoda were only worth it for exercise, with surprisingly better lake views down at the resort.

After lunch back in Nyuangshwe I headed west for 11km, past glorious fields of sunflowers to reach the Myaing Thouk Wooden Bridge. It’s a great place to see the floating gardens up close, and a photogenic spot to end this post with.

Author: jontycrane

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