Things You Must Do When You're in Inle Lake - Part A
While the cities of Bagan and Yangon are the main tourist hotspots, another destination worth visiting is Inle Lake. Slowly gaining in popularity and hype, Inle Lake is made up of a vast serene lake filled with stilt houses, swampy marshes, and faint hills and temples glimmering from afar. The main town in Inle Lake is a small yet unassuming village called Nyaungshwe. Using this small town as your base, you are free to explore the best of what these lake side villages can offer. Here are a few of our top picks for things to do in Inle Lake.
Watch their Traditional Fishing MethodsOne of the best things to do in Inle Lake is to marvel at the ingenuity of the fishermen as they utilize traditional (and very peculiar) fishing methods. Essentially, they wrap one leg around an oar and use it to maneuver their boats around while using a conical bamboo basket or net to catch fish. They usually stand up the entire time allowing them to easily spot the fish by tracking their bubbles. In order to pull this off, the fishermen have incredible balance, mastering the art of not falling off. While modernization and tourism are slowly creeping in this developing country, it was refreshing to see traditions still being honored and respected through this timeless tradition.
Go CyclingAlthough it seems hard to muster up the energy to cycle around given the intense heat, one of the activities we enjoyed the most is biking around the lake and the small rural villages around the area. Located Eastbound out of Nyaungshwe, you will also find the Htet Eain Temple Cave which is a series of dark passages within the cave, some of which contain a few Buddhas and temple offerings. Other areas worth visiting are the Maing Thauk village, a random art gallery, and the Red Mountain Estate Winery.
Boat Tours Around the LakeTo get a glimpse of the local life, set on out on a boat tour which stops in small stilt houses along the way. The tours mainly take you around local handicraft shops and through tourist attractions like the Phaungdawoo Pagoda and the Jumping Cat Monastery. My favorite part about this tour is gliding along the lake, observing the locals go about their everyday lives. The children we saw happily waved at us, as we weaved our way around their little villages floating by the side of the lake.
Before your boat tour, you need to decide if you want to explore the boat using a motorized canoe or by a traditional non-motorized boat. Every hotel and guesthouse in Nyaungshwe can help you arrange a tour around the lake.
On a side note, nowadays, the cats in the Jumping Cat Monastery prefer to happily lounge around the Buddha carvings instead of leaping. So don’t get too excited about the name! Instead of leaping cats, you will find interesting enough Buddha carvings created in traditional Shan, Tibetan, Bagan, and Innwa (Ava) styles.