Inle Lake is one of the best places to go in Myanmar. It is in the Shan State, and is the area's main attraction. The state is expansive and unexplored, home to enigmatic and beautiful mountains that serve as the perfect backdrop for the lake, featuring floating communities, stilted homes and ancient stupas.
Inle Lake is recommended for travellers who are looking for a relaxing vacation. The place provides escape from the fast-paced life of the city. Here, time passes slowly and every experience can be savoured – visitors can spend their days canoeing or trekking in the lush countryside or maybe watch the Inthar people do their tasks by the lake. This is a place where many people stay much longer than they originally planned.
Compared to other places in Myanmar, it can be a bit cold thanks to the surrounding mountains and because of its location, it can also be tricky to travel to the lake. Tourists can travel by plane, but the airport is far from the lake and travelling by road can be a bumpy adventure in itself. However, the beauty of the place is worth the trip.
- Flight of the Gibbon™ Zipline Tour
- Elephant Jungle Trekking & River Rafting Full-Day Tour
- Excursion to Ancient Temples
- Full-Day Excursion to Chiang Rai & Golden Triangle
- Night Safari Tour
- Mountain Bike Tour with Chiang Dao Cave Visit
- 2-Day Chiang Dao Trek
- 2-Day Mountain Biking Adventure in Chiang Dao
- Overnight Segway Ride & Ziplline Tour
- White Water Rafting Adventure
Weather and Climate: The Best Time to Go To Inle Lake
The climate in Inle Lake can be described as monsoonal, as it receives an average of 1,370 mm of rainfall every year and the wettest period falls between the months of May and September. However, dry season rain is quite frequent on the Shan Plateau, more frequent than in any other place in Myanmar. Because of the altitude, tourists can expect a cool climate and while mists are to be expected, visitors need not worry about frost. Throughout the year, the climate in the lake area is cool but it gets downright chilly during early mornings and evenings during the months of January and February. Tourists are advised to bring socks, sweaters or jackets to keep themselves warm.
The best time to visit is September and October. This is mainly because of the ceremonial Phaungdawoo Festival, the most important event held there. This festival lasts for almost three weeks, and occurs between late September and early October. The Phaungdawoo Festival is closely followed by the Thadingyut, another festival and one of Myanmar's best-known events. The Inthar and Shan folks wear new clothes to celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent, or ‘Waso’.
How to Get to Inle Lake
The best and common way of travelling to Inle Lake is by plane because all the other routes to the area are time-consuming. Heho is the entrance to the Inle Lake region, and all major airlines fly to this destination. These include Air Mandalay, Yangon Airways, Myanma Airways and Bagan Air. From Heho, a traveller still has 11km to go from Nyaungshwe or 20km from Taunggyi.
Tourists with more time on their hands can travel by road from Bagan, Mandalay, Thazi or Kalaw. Means of transportation available for a road trip include buses, pick-ups and taxis. The departure point and last destination of all public transport is Taunggyi, but travellers in Nyaungshwe and Inle need not worry. They can wait by the side of the road in Shwenyaung junction, where buses stop and pick up passengers. Open pick-up trucks are also used to transport people to the lake. Around January, the trip can be very cold and passengers are advised to wear warm clothes. It is possible to take a taxi from airport to town, but drivers charge more. Shared taxis are better for groups.
Things to Know When Travelling to Inle Lake
- Visitors are required to pay a fee of USD$3 to enter the Inle Lake zone. Payment can be made at Myanmar Travels and Tours at Chaung Road, Nyangshwe or at one of the hotels or guesthouses in town.
- In general, the recommended attire for people visiting Myanmar is light and casual cotton wear but because of the cool climate in Inle Lake, tourists are advised to bring warmer clothing. Cardigans and jackets are a must if travellers plan to visit during January and February.
- For footwear, sandals and slippers are recommended. No footwear is allowed in pagodas, monasteries as well as houses so easy-to-remove footwear is a practical choice.
- Respectable apparel should be worn when visiting pagodas and monasteries.
- Visitors are encouraged to bring sunblock, sun glasses, hats, umbrellas and insect repellent.
- Tourists should bring a personal medical kit, which includes medicine for diarrhoea.
- Visitors should only eat in decent restaurants. Food sold by street vendors is not recommended.
- The drinking of tap water is strongly discouraged. People should only drink boiled water or water from sealed bottles. The drinking of soft drinks is alright, as long as the bottle has not been previously opened.