The journey to Inle Lake weaves through the valley and local villages, farmland and scenic hills by road before a short journey by long tail boat zips down a narrow channel to the heart the beautiful lake. You might want to hold your jaw as you catch your first glimpse of Inle, laced with a labyrinth of waterways towards the edges and framed by the Shan hills on both sides.
While the labyrinth of waterways offer many days worth of exploration for the inquisitive traveller, the tranquil calm surrounding Inle makes it the ideal place to pause for a few days longer, and relax mid-trip.
The active can explore the waterways by kayak and surrounding villages and farms by bicycle. The local market rotates around the lake-side villages every five days to give the surrounding hill tribes a chance to trade their wares; well-worth a visit to inspect the bizarre collection of fish, vegetables and local medicines on sale. The local village of In Dein dotted with ancient 13th century stupas is also a popular choice for those not 'templed-out' after Bagan. Local workshops are plenty here, and if you only visit one, make sure to go to the weaving village where lotus silk is used to create everything from scarves to longhis.
Inle Lake is equally rewarding for those just wanting to relax and take in the stunning scenery. Put your feet up and let yourself be rowed between stilted villages and floating gardens anchored to the lake by bamboo poles, passing local children rowing themselves to school, fishermen reeling in their nets, and the traditional one-legged rowers unique to this lake. Alternatively, while away days lakeside at a peaceful hotel with a good book, a cool drink and an idyllic view.