Every destination has THAT iconic photo to lure you in. Greece it’s Santorini. Australia it’s Ayers Rock. For Myanmar ‘that’ picture is Inle Lake.
Sometimes the reality of being there doesn’t live up to the photos you’ve seen. Expectations are so inflated and so wild it can be a let down. Not Inle Lake.
For our day on the lake we boarded from the private jetty at Inle Princess Resort. Diethelm uses Indevi Lake Boats noted by their signature red flags, over-sized seats and luxurious rather stately looking wood paneling.
You want to have your camera fully charged (and your sun-screen with you) as Inle Lake will hit you like a multi-sensory explosion. Visually it’s other worldly. This was the day I realized I say ‘wow’ ALOT.
Gliding through the lake on your boat you pass floating villages, floating gardens and fisherman casting with old techniques still used today. The water’s surface looks soft and silky with only occasional swells from long tails passing parallel or out ahead in front.
If the rest of Myanmar feels 50 years ago Inle Lake feels a millennia ago. Anyone looking for a pure hit of relaxation – THIS is it. With the sun-shining down on you, legs stretched out, a light breeze, flying on the Lake it’s hard not to feel totally content with your place in the world.
For an anxious Type-A over-thinker like me I was SO grateful for this day. To not think, to totally let go of every stressful thought, Inle lake is the closest I’ll get to experiencing a voluntary partial lobotomy. Your most highly strung client will totally MELT here on Inle Lake.
We stopped for a little while at one of the lakeside markets and experienced Inle Lake’s version of a parking lot with long-tail boats parked up in perfectly organized chaos. Not nearly as stressful as Saturday afternoons at The Grove and a fabulous experience to see locals picking up their equivalent of weekly groceries! We picked up some snacks and headed for lunch.
Lunch was at Inle Heritage a fabulous spot we take guests to which, right on the lake, combines a hospitality school for local trainees, a hotel, a restaurant, cooking school, and (wait for it!), a Burmese Cat Village! My amazing guide Ms. Ni Lwin led us onto the veranda for what has become my staple 3-course Burmese lunch. Take a look at the color of the tomatoes. So red, fresh and famous for being locally grown here on the floating gardens of Inle Lake.
I also got my fix of my now favorite tea-leaf salad. Fermented tea leaves with fried chick-peas, peanuts, sesame and fried garlic. All super healthy and fried in their own juices. Anyone reading my post on Burmese food will know how obsessed I am with traditional Myanmar food.
This is a full day on the lake so you need 2 nights here – AT LEAST. After hopping from Yangon (1 night), Bagan (2 nights) to Inle Lake it’s here you want to STOP and unwind. I stayed at Inle Princess Resort. I’d also recommend Villa Inle and Sanctum Resort too.
… in closing – when building a Myanmar itinerary NOT going to Inle Lake is like going to Peru and skipping Machu Picchu.