Inle Lake is Myanmar’s second largest lake and one of its most popular tourist attractions despite being located in a remote part of Shan State. The closest airport, Heho, is about 1 hour drive away from Inle Lake although the towns of Nyaung Shwe, with the closest bus station, and Shwe Nyaung, which has the closest railway station, are under 30 minutes by road from the lake.
About Inle Lake
Inle Lake has some unique geographical features that create a special environment and support an abundance of aquatic creatures and plants. Firstly, Inle Lake is very large covering an area of around 44 square kilometres. Secondly, this fresh water lake is very shallow, with an average depth of between 2 and 4 metres depending on the season and which part of the lake you are in. Thirdly, Inle Lake is located at 880 metres above sea level in a mountain range meaning that the climate is cooler than lowland areas and the backdrop to the lake is spectacular.
The people who live around Inle Lake are also unique in terms of their culture, their fishing techniques, their agricultural methods and their local crafts. The main ethnic group in the area, the Intha, live in four large settlements around the lake, as well as in numerous small villages, and bamboo huts in the lake itself. The most famous characteristic of the Intha is their unique method of rowing boats using a paddle which is tied to one leg, a method which allows the boatman to stand up and see more clearly into the shallow water. The Intha are also famous for growing vegetables on floating mats made from reeds which are secured to the floor of the lake using bamboo poles to allow the floating gardens to move up and down as the water level changes. The Intha people also make things, particularly silver ornaments and jewellery, as well as mats woven out of water hyacinth stems. These items are traditionally manufactured by the Intha people and make excellent and unique souvenirs.
To visit the main attractions of Inle Lake you need to go on a boat tour, although there is a road around the lake which allows access to most of the points of interest on the shoreline. There are lots of boat operators, charging widely different prices for the same product, and lots of different tour itineraries. For this reason its worth shopping around to get a good tour for a fair price. if you have only a single day for a boat tour around the lake then we reckon that you definitely visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Ywama village (which has a floating market), and Nampan village, near which you will see the famous floating gardens. Visitors with more time may also enjoy some of the hikes available in the mountains bordering the lake although a guide is recommended as well as a good general level of fitness as reaching significant viewpoints and settlements generally requires around 8 hours walking for the round trip.
Location of Inle Lake
- Inle Lake is located 26.7 km by road from Shwe Nyaung Railway Station.
Travel to Inle Lake
Inle Lake is located near to the town of Nyaung Shwe. Follow the links below for information about travel to Nyaung Shwe:
- Travel times from Bagan to Inle
- Travel times from Mandalay to Inle Lake
- Travel times from Yangon to Inle Lake