An excellent length of time in Nyaung Shwe
Inle Lake itself is the main attraction in Nyaung Shwe, but the town is a pleasant spot to hang out, as it has one of the main traveller scenes in Burma and a range of good cafes. Three days spent here allows you to see the lake's key attractions, plus a few other things to make your trip memorable. Here's a suggested itinerary.
Day 1: If you’ve arrived via the lengthy journey from say Mandalay or Bagan, a gruelling night bus from Yangon or especially a three-day trek from Kalaw, then you might want to start off with a morning off to chill and recover. Relax in a tea shop or cafe, soak up the atmosphere or explore the market.
Next, check where the following day's five-day market will be, and get your boat organised for the following morning with a boatman. Be specific about which jetty you'll meet at and agree on a price. See below for more on working out what your day will take in.
Stretch your legs with an afternoon cycle west or east out of town to either Khaung Daing and the hot springs or Red Mountain Winery and Maing Thauk. Both routes, and especially from the winery, afford fine lake views, and will introduce you to the local countryside and village life. We’d probably edge towards doing the latter, since Khaung Daing may also be visited by boat the following day. The short ride out to the famous teak Shan monastery Shwe Yaunghwe Kyaung is also worth squeezing in.
Day 2: Start early to avoid the crowds and plan to spend the whole day on Inle. The precise itinerary you've chosen with your boatman will depend upon where the five-day market is taking place that day. This is where you'll head first, and the earlier in the day you get there, the better -- boats will depart at dawn, and we'd aim for that. Whichever market is on, it will be a good spot for coffee and a late breakfast -- especially if you leave too early for brekkie. We’d suggest taking in the day's market; then two or three handicraft villages, a leisurely tour through one or two stilt villages, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda and a cruise through the floating gardens. With a stop for lunch, that will get you back to town around 15:00 or 16:00 which, if you’ve been out since daybreak, may be enough. If not, then try a stop at one of the lesser-visited villages towards the north of the lake, such as Khaung Daing or Maing Thauk.
Bear in mind when arranging things with a boatman that some speak English, others don’t; getting your guesthouse to note down the names of places you want to head in Burmese may be an idea. Discuss with him the sights you’d like to take in and let him choose the most logical sequence. Jetties are located along Kann Nar Street or you can arrange to hire a boat directly with your accommodation or a Yone Gyi agent. Farther-flung destinations such as In Dein or Thaung To will be a little more than the usual 18,000-25,000 standard rate... which brings us to day 3.
Day 3: Take another boat down to fascinating In Dein, where you can easily spend the bulk of a morning exploring the highly photogenic ruins. Take in the surrounding rural life too; there’s plenty of choices around In Dein for lunch, including tourist and non-tourist options. Return to your boat via the ‘bamboo forest’ and if time permits you can stroll along the riverbank. Spend the afternoon relaxing and finalising arrangements for onward travel the following day. There won’t be much of a reduction for hiring a boat for half a day rather than a full day, but boats aren’t that expensive anyway.
One thing to bear in mind is that the five-day market may be held at In Dein. In that case, our itinerary is thrown off a little; rejig as you see fit!
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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