Inle Lake boat tour – what you need to know

Apart from the famous Bagan or Mandalay, exploring Inle Lake by boat should be a priority when visiting Myanmar. Over the past few years, Inle Lake has gained popularity among the foreign tourists and it’s easy to see why: the scenery is breathtaking, it’s surrounded by nature and it’s still untouched by mass tourism.

The best way to explore the area is to rent a boat around Inle Lake for one day. The guide will take you to the most important tourist attractions around the lake and you will discover more about the Burmese culture and traditions.

Inle Lake traditional fishermen

If you only have one day at Inle Lake, a boat ride is the perfect activity. In this article, you will find everything you need to know when planning a one day boat tour at Inle Lake: where to book it, the price, the main tourist attractions and where to stay.

To check out the most beautiful places around Myanmar, click here.

Where to book your Inle Lake one day boat tour

If you are visiting Inle Lake, you will most probably stay in Nyaungshwe which is the biggest city near the lake. You will see that you won’t find any tour companies in the city so the best way to book your boat tour on Inle Lake is through your hotel/ hostel or guesthouse.

You will see that all around Myanmar, you can book pretty much anything through your hotel: from bus tickets to local guides and tours.

If, by any chance, your accommodation cannot help you with booking a day trip to Inle Lake, just go to the nearest hotel reception and ask there. The boat driver will most probably come to your hotel to pick you up. He will then take you to his boat and the trip will begin.

Check out my 2-day itinerary to Inle Lake. There is much more to do than taking a boat tour around the lake!

Inle Lake boat trip price

Booking a day trip to Inle Lake by boat will cost you around 18.000 Kyats ($12) per boat. I personally believe that the prices are more than affordable considering the fact that the boat is private (there won’t be any other tourists with you during the trip). Also, the guide will wait for you while you will be visiting the attractions along the way.

Inle Lake floating houses

If you feel that your guide did a great job, do not hesitate to leave a tip. The guides also receive a small commission from all the purchases you make from the local businesses he shows you (silversmith, silk weaving). However, even with the commission they receive, I still believe that the cost of this trip is affordable and decent.

Inle Lake boat tour itinerary

Most of the Inle Lake tour packages include the attractions below. However, some may skip a few of the following locations. The good news is that you can negotiate with your guide the desired itinerary in order to make sure that you’ll see everything that interests you.

For awesome tips & tricks about planning your trip to Myanmar, make sure to check out the Lonely Planet guide.

1. See the fishermen

Probably the main attraction at Inle Lake are the fisherman and the best time to see them in action is early in the morning. They are famous for their balancing skills. They basically balance on one leg while paddling with the other. In the same time, they hold with their hands a big, conical net.

Inle Lake traditional fishermen

In order to catch fish, they submerge the conical net and spear the fish through the whole on top.

Seeing the fishermen balancing at the edge of their boat is definitely one of the must see things at Inle Lake but don’t get your hopes up. This practice is an old one and as with every old tradition, it was replaced by newer fishing techniques. Nowadays, there are only a few fishermen left who are still using the conical net. The others are using modern nets but they are still balancing on one foot while paddling with the other.

Personally, I loved both techniques. It was a nice contrast between the old and the new.

2. Explore the floating villages

An Inle Lake boat trip will always include a ride between the floating houses. I’ve seen similar floating houses, built on wooden stilts, at Kampong Phluk in Cambodia but they never fail to impress me.

Inle Lake floating houses

The Burmese people at Inle Lake were so innovative that they’ve found a way to live on water. Going through the small canals and watching how the local life unfolds is a truly unique experience. You will see people washing clothes in the lake, paddling through the houses or cleaning their homes.

If you want, you can ask your guide to take you for lunch at one of the floating restaurants. We did and we loved it.

3. See how the locals grow tomatoes at the Floating Garden

Most of gardens are rooted in soil but the Burmese people living at Inle Lake use a different technique to cultivate their crops. They’ve built floating gardens right on the lake where they cultivate tomatoes.

Inle Lake floating tomato gardens

The farmers are rowing their boats between the crops, plucking the ripe tomatoes from the floating gardens which rise and fall with the waves. It’s a pretty interesting sight.

4.  Silk/ cotton/ lotus weaving

I’ve heard about silk and cotton weaving before but never about lotus weaving. At Inle Lake, lotus plants grow in abundance so people have found a unique way to use it – they create incredible textiles from it. Scarfs, blouses or even the traditional longyi can be made out of lotus.

Inle Lake lotus weaving

The clothes made out of lotus are even more expensive than silk. That’s because in order to make a scarf, more than 4000 lotus plants are needed and it takes around one month to finish it.

The lotus weavers believe that wearing these fabrics can help to absorb bad things from our bodies and bring good luck. Visiting the weavers is definitely one of the Inle Lake highlights.

For the most beautiful photos from Myanmar, check out my photo gallery.

5. Admire the Pa Daung Women or the Long Neck Women

Seeing the Long Neck Women at Inle Lake is a truly unique experience. If you want to support them, you can buy some of their weaving products.

Pa Daung Women or the Long Neck Women at Inle Lake

Girls first start to wear the rings at 5 years old and over the years, rings are being added. If you want to read more about this practice, you can read this article.

6. Buy some fresh vegetables at the Five Day Market

The Five Day Market is one of the most unusual markets around the world and one of the must see attractions at Inle Lake. The market is called Five Day Market because the local people rotate between five different locations every 5 days.

Five Day Market Inle Lake

The system is pretty innovative and its goal is to provide fresh produce to people from different locations around the lake. The assortment of vegetables sold is amazing but there are also some locals who sell Buddha statues, textile or home decor objects.

Tip: the best way to find out where the Five Day Market is going to take place on a certain day is to ask your guide or at the hotel reception. 

7.  Climb to the Inn Dein Pagoda

Another popular attraction at Inle Lake is the Inn Dein Pagoda. Located in the small village of Indein, this pagoda consists of hundreds of ancient small stupas which make for a great view. Most of the stupas are in ruins, but some of them are really well preserved. You can check out the difference between stupas, pagodas and temples here.

To get to the Inn Dein Pagoda you will have to walk for about five minutes and then to pass through a wooden tunnel and climb up the hill. The wooden tunnel is filled with local people selling souvenirs (handicrafts, textiles, paintings, sculptures and religious objects).

Check out the most beautiful temples around Myanmar here.

Entrance fee: 300 Kyats – photo fee

8. Visit a silversmith and goldsmith

The Inle Lake boat trip itinerary always includes a stop to the silversmith or goldsmith. The shop owner will walk you through the entire process of making jewelry or any other gold or silver object.

Inle Lake silversmith

If you like their crafts, you can even buy some objects as souvenirs.

9. Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda

The most important monastery at Inle Lake, the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda houses five 800 years old ancient Buddha images. The locals come here and apply golden leaves on these Buddha images (only men are allowed to apply them). The Buddha images  are covered in so much gold leaf that they have basically became a solid mass of gold.

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Inle Lake

The Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda is one of the must see attractions at Inle Lake and a visit here is important if you are looking for an authentic, cultural experience at Inle Lake.

10. Jumping Cat Monastery

The Jumping Cat Monastery is famous for the jumping cats, trained to leap through hoops. However, nowadays this practice has stopped and although the monastery is full of fluffy balls of fur, they are just sitting around all day.

The Jumping Cat Monastery Inle Lake

Don’t get discouraged – another reason to visit this monastery is to see the collection of ancient Buddha images.

11. Sunset on the lake

The best ending for your day trip to Inle lake is to enjoy the sunset from your boat. After a day full of activities, relaxing for a few minutes is the best reward. You can watch the fishermen in action and enjoy the incredible views over the mountains surrounding the lake.

Don’t forget to bring your camera with you. The sunset at Inle Lake is one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.

Inle Lake traditional fishermen

Where to stay at Inle Lake

There are many hotels to choose from when visiting Inle Lake. I’ve searched for the best and I’m sharing them with you below.

Novotel Inle Lake

Novotel Inle Lake

Low Budget – Remember Inn – good location, excellent breakfast, spacious rooms

Mid Budget  – Thousand Island Hotel – good location, excellent value for money, beautiful rooms

LuxuryNovotel Inle Lake – excellent pool, good location, incredible service

 

I hope that you have enjoyed my Inle Lake itinerary. If you only have one day in this beautiful place, renting a boat is the perfect thing to do. Apart from these amazing tourist attractions at Inle Lake, I must say that the people are extremely kind and helpful.

I hope to be back soon. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to let me know in the comment section below.

May the travel bug bite you!

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