An enjoyable afternoon
Khaung Daing is a sprawling village stretched along Inle Lake featuring various food-related cottage industries but firmly off the regular tourist trail. A visit here, around an eight- or nine-kilometre bike ride from Nyaung Shwe, taking in some hot springs and beautiful scenery along the way, makes for a fine half-day activity.
Be warned that between the state of many Nyaung Shwe bicycles and the state of the sealed but bumpy roads, it can be a fairly strenuous -- but worthwhile -- journey.
The village produces tofu with yellow peas -- if you don’t like the regular soya tofu try this one! -- processes peanuts and various kinds of beans, manufactures peanut oil, whips up rice cakes and dries sunflower seeds, among other activities. It's a regular hive of industry, but note that most tend to be underway in mornings rather than afternoons.
Though the village extends some distance along the lake, many of the food processing activities can be seen a short walk from the main jetty. Most of the plentiful tea and noodle shops are found along the sealed road to the west of the village. Also around Khaung Daing are a clutch of upmarket resorts including classy Inle Lake View. A small five-day market -- one of the lesser-visited ones -- is held between the road and lake at the northern entrance to the village.
To get here, leave Nyaung Shwe by the Teik Nan bridge and follow the road as it turns first left, then right onto a long straight tree-lined stretch overlooking marshland on both sides. After three kilometres or so the roads climbs up a way to meet the north-south Khaung Daing to Heho road. On the corner is a friendly cafe/beer station, well placed after the climb. Left takes you down towards the hot springs with wooded hills, some stupa-topped, on your right, and the lake off to the left. Also on the left are the well laidout, well-organised hot springs.
We expected to find a sulphurous puddle surrounded by picnic detritus and boiled egg hawkers but this had a tarmac carpark, proper reception and cocktail/wine bar, no less. There are men’s, women’s and family ‘public’ swimming pool-type baths plus small mixed ‘private’ ones in the bar area. In this case ‘public’ and ‘private’ is code for local and foreigner baths; Burmese visitors we talked to were charged 2,000 kyat per head rather than the $7 foreigners are charged.
The restaurant, though closed during our low season visit, serves up various local specialities and the smart bar had a full menu including Red Mountain wine and cocktails. Water was hot without being scalding and we detected no more than a faint whiff of sulphur.
The only problem with the springs is the price. The public pool costs $7 per person for up to two hours, while the family one is a better deal at 15,000 kyat for three. Probably the best bet is the ‘superior’ pools: 2 roomy pools set in decking in the middle of the bar. You can get a bottle of Red Mountain for $20-25 and be served chilled glasses of Burmese Sauvignon while you soak in the hot bath; we doubt they’d be too strict about the two hours as long as you kept ordering. Note that T-shirts and shorts or sarongs are the dress code; don’t turn up in skimpy bikinis or budgie smugglers, please. The water is said to contain radium, calcium, iron and sulphur among other things, and it's claimed to be good for circulation, breathing, skin and gout. During high season an on-site spa offers massage and reflexology.
We’d allow an hour for the cycle ride. Alternatively, a return tuk tuk or taxi ride costs 15,000- 20,000 kyat and takes around 20 minutes to the springs, or 30 minutes to Khaung Daing. You could always cycle there, soak in the hot springs, then head down to the village jetty to see if you can find a boat to transport you plus bicycles back to Nyaung Shwe. Otherwise have a drink at the delightful Inle Lake View Resort cafe and if you ask nicely they may have a boatman around to whisk you back.
Address: Springs are around 2 kilometres short of Khaung Daing village, Nyaung Shwe
T: (094) 936 4876;
Coordinates (for GPS): 96º52'48.75" E, 20º37'42.47" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Admission: $7-$10 per person
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.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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