4 Interesting Things to Do around Inle Lake, Myanmar
One of Myanmar's most iconic visitor attractions, Inle Lake is famous for its "one-legged" Intha fishermen and floating gardens. It has also been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Water, mountains and an endless sky: Inle Lake's natural gifts have been a quiet tourist draw for decades; these have made Inle Lake one of present-day Myanmar's hottest destinations. But "hot" is relative; even popular Inle Lake still feels off-the-beaten-path for first-time tourists visiting Myanmar.
Beyond the famous one-legged rowing fishermen and the lake waters that seem to go on and on, you will find the following adventures waiting for you once you get out of the boat.
Indulge Your Cat Fancy
Every house in Inle Lake has a pet cat. For fun cat tricks, visit the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, popularly known as the "Jumping Cat Monastery" due to the monks' training the cats to jump through hoops. Today, however, shows are rare or nonexistent, but the cats still remain, getting fatter from lack of exercise.
Go Pagoda Hopping
It's not as jam-packed with stupas as Bagan, but Inle Lake allows you to experience Myanmar's Buddhist culture in its own unique way. Begin with Inle Lake's most-visited house of worship, the Phaung Daw U Pagoda. This temple in Ywama village houses five golden Buddhas, each rendered unrecognizable from layers upon layers of gold leaf.
The Shwe Indein Pagoda is far more atmospheric. It is actually two groups of stupas in Shwe Indein village that date back as far as the 8th century. Both are readily accessible from the single 2,300-foot covered walkway that stretches from a jetty on Indein Creek to Shwe Indein temple with its single golden Buddha.
Explore Inle Lake's Deep South
The town of Sagar at the extreme south of Inle Lake takes almost forever to reach by boat–two hours if coming from Inpawkhon Village at Inle's midsection, more if coming from Nyaungshwe at the extreme north. Travelers will find a ruined capital that predates Nyaungshwe; this was the seat of the local king (Saopha) before he moved to Nyaungshwe. A hundred "sunken stupas" is almost all that remains of this city, now submerged in the lake's waters.
Nearby villages inhabited by Pa-O tribespeople – Sae Khaung and Tar Kaung – are famous for their rice wine and pottery cottage industries, respectively; both places allow visitors to watch the production process using traditional methods.
Ride a Bike to Myanmar's Wine Country
Active travelers can hit one of the many biking and hiking trails that wind out from Nyaungshwe, passing by pleasant countryside and bucolic Burmese villages. The bike trail from Nyaungshwe to the Red Mountain Winery is one not to miss: a pleasant two-mile jaunt leading gradually uphill until you reach a winery set amidst Inle Lake's surrounding hills.
Once you arrive, you can book a wine tasting session that lets you sample the fruit of the local vineyard: a sweet Sauvignon Blanc, a Shiraz-Tempranillo blend and a white wine blended from Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat Petit Grain.