Plenty of options
Beautiful Inle Lake offers a huge range of places to stay across all budgets. Some 100 guesthouses, hotels and resorts are spread around the lake and also concentrated in nearby Nyaung Shwe town, where the eating and drinking options are broader too.
All but one of our recommendations are concentrated in Nyaung Shwe. We prefer the town rather than lakeside accommodation as the resorts built on stilts over the water or next to the shore are unpopular with the lake’s fishermen and inhabitants, they detract from overall lake views and we’re not sure about their eco-credentials either. On a practical level once you’re there, you’re stuck. All you can do is walk to and from their overpriced restaurants or hire a boat for 10,000-15,000 kyat each way to take you into town.
Be warned that while the town’s accommodation scene has greatly improved in recent times, the best addresses tend to be decidedly on the small side and can get booked up for high season a long time in advance. Book as soon as you are coming!
Bear in mind too that Inle Lake and Nyaung Shwe have a generally cooler climate than low-lying Burma, so outside of the hottest months air-con may well be unnecessary, so you can shave a few dollars off a room by going for fan-cooled only.
High season in Inle usually refers to around October or November through to April, though some price hikes may also occur during the July-August ‘mini-high’ season.
Our only recommendation outside of town is the well-run and eco-minded Inle Lake View Resort in Khaung Daing Village. This French-run resort still has the wonderful lake views but is built on dry land with relatively easy access to town. Their green efforts are genuine, with their water recycling system and organic garden initiatives that other resorts would do well to emulate. Staff are professional and they haven't squeezed in too many of their tasteful, impeccably decked out villas or rooms, creating a welcoming, intimate environment.
Our other upmarket favourite, if you insist on going for this Inle-meets-Maldives style, is plush, quietly set Viewpoint Lodge in Nyaung Shwe. This is an excellent compromise, as they have fine stilted and spacious chalets over a lily-covered pond, but it's located in the town itself. This would be our honeymoon or romantic getaway option for Inle Lake.
Down a rung or two in price, there’s quite a choice in town. Extremely friendly Pyi Guesthouse offers a choice of immaculate spacious rooms or cute chalets, with plenty of communal spots for having a beer or hanging out -- this is a good pick for meeting other travellers. The 13 rooms at lodge-style Golden Empress boasts tastefully decorated rooms and super friendly service, while the sparkling new and well-appointed chalets at Cassiopeia Hotel stood out for us too (sadly our camera died there so we have no pix).
We remember Remember Inn as a clear winner in our flashpacker price range -- in fact, it probably represents the all-round best value for money in any category for Inle Lake, with no high season supplements. They had the best-looking $20 rooms we saw in town, with super comfy beds and appealing decor.
If you're watching your money carefully, among our budget picks would be charming May Guest House, which is set in a cute garden and offers clean rooms with hot water for just $15 in low season, and $20 in high. This is our top pick for a single budget traveller or backpacker. Great deals are also to be had at little NK Little Inn, where a friendly vibe is rounded out by rooms decked out with care.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
Our top 10 places to stay in and around Inle Lake