Home Archives Things To Do In Inle Lake: The Simple Life of Myanmar

Things To Do In Inle Lake: The Simple Life of Myanmar

by Marina Utami
The Simple Life of Inle Lake, Myanmar - featured

When we first stepped into this new hotel in Mandalay, we were mostly welcomed by the manager, an old man who has travelled in so many countries and worked in many hotels before. We were also surprised that he can even speak some of Bahasa Indonesia, and told us many times how much he loves Indonesia (well, especially the beautiful girl named ‘Ratna’ whom he adored when he was young. It was sweet). He liked us so much that finally, he offered us to stay and live with his family in Inle Lake after our Bagan trip. We had amazing time staying with the locals and therefore I am writing you the ultimate list of things to do in Inle Lake

Marina Terrance and Arma in MandalayInle Lake was never actually in our plan. We were too excited to see the temples and learn about the historical places, and we thought, oh a lake was just.. a lake. Aren’t we just wrong? 🙂 Hearing that we could actually live with an actual family in a floating village was actually kinda nice. So we changed our itinerary again and decided to take the chance of Inle Lake.

It was the highlight of our trip to Myanmar.

Inle lake is a very long lake and it took us one and a half hour to get into the village by the boat from the small harbour in Nyaung Shwe. It was 5 a.m and it was so damn cold! But we managed to survive and arrived safely at the house.

Inle Lake houseThe first impression on our first day around the boat was the scenery. We have blown away with the majestic view and how peaceful and quiet the place was. You can see why we often held our breath when you see this kind of view!

Tomato Farm in Inle LakeInle Lake boatInle Lake FarmThe villagers and tourists from other boats often greeted us on the way and say “Hello” or “Minglapar” (meaning “Hello” in Burmese) with wide smiles. It is true when they say people from the village are friendlier than the one from the city.

The most interesting part is how the villagers live their life on the lake. They wash clothes, they swim, they farm and go anywhere with the boat. They already get used to this kind of life. Can you imagine?Children Leg Rowing Boat in Inle LakeChildren taking bath in Inle LakeWomen rowing boats in Inle LakeMe and Arma were also touched by the kindness and friendliness of the family that took us in. The mother cooked breakfast and dinner for us, and boy.. don’t we just love the real homey feel of Myanmar food!

Inle Lake Kitchen and BreakfastWe visited a couple of workshops on the lake that we couldn’t resist buying once we saw how it was made! They use fibre from the orchid’s stem to make the thread for weaving, and they still do it in the traditional way. This is the only place in the world that uses this kind of method.Weaving Shop at Inle LakeWe also went to the jewellery workshop and learnt how they made it with full of attention to details. I bought the silver fish necklace as Inle’s holy animal, they said it will bring me fortune and luck 🙂

Silver Jewellery Shop in Inle LakeSince Arma is a smoker, she was happy to see the traditional cigar workshop of Myanmar. It’s a small house where all of the workers are women.

Cigar Making in Inle LakeAnother tradition that we were amazed was their way to row the boat while fishing. They use one of their legs to hold the paddle and row the boat while their hands are occupied with the net. All of the men able to do this since they learnt how to do it since they were little.

Leg Rowing Fisherman of Inle LakeThe second day on the lake we decided to visit the temples. We usually loved the traditional ones, the ones where we can see the old lush temples from centuries ago.

Pagoda Interior at Inle LakeMost Burmese people tend to use gold in many of their new pagodas, to show how grateful they are to God. There is only one big temple in the lake where most of all the villagers come to pray. On the side of the temple is the market where most villagers on Inle Lake sell their handicrafts. We got a chance to see several women from the different ethnic group, tasted some real traditional snacks, and ate fresh tomatoes from the wonderful ladies who gave us to try. Oh yes, tomatoes from their floating farm. Yum!

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Inle LakePhaung Daw Oo Pagoda Inle LakeLocal Market in Inle LakeSeeing how much we loved temple and pagoda, our boat driver took us to another pagoda that was far away from the lake. We took a ride to one of the rivers, walked a bit after we hit the ground, and climbed hundreds of shallow stairs to these pagodas. It was jaw dropping awesome view! We got to see the gold pagodas, the white pagodas, and the old ruined pagodas that were still attached. (Don’t you see how much we love temples?)

Inle Lake PagodasMarina with the Inle Lake PagodasInle Lake PagodasWe were so sad that we got to leave the family so soon and continue the journey. The night before we left, we watched tv together, chat and practice English language together. We were so happy with the experience so we decided to give them some presents. I drew a picture of the mother so they have something to remember us by.

Together with the Inle Lake FamilyMrs Dowa Drawing and her house in Inle LakeThis place taught me how easy it is to live a simple life. When I observed the house, the rooms, and the activities of the family, I was full of awe with how they live. There is no laptop, there is no McD, there is no Playstation, and yet they were happy and peaceful. There’s no need to use Facebook or Line with others, just come over to their places by boat. I didn’t even touch my laptop and phone at all during the time. I was too impressed by the view and the people! Inle Lake was definitely our favourite place in Myanmar. We were a bit sad that we have to leave and take the next trip to Yangon. We really do wish we can meet Ibu Dowa family again one day!

Marina, Arma and the Inle Lake Familyp.s: Thank you so much for Ibu Dowa and family, Terrance, and the boat driver. It was the most amazing experience that we had during our trip in Myanmar.


© 2017 Writing & Images copyright of Marina Utami.


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The Travel Junkie January 4, 2015 - 10:23 am

Love this post!

marinautami January 4, 2015 - 10:35 am

Terima kasih kaka! Mohon wejangannya..

Brittany B January 4, 2015 - 2:40 pm

Marinaaaaa! I just read every single post and I love your blog. It is very inspiring for people to do some more travel (alone and to make friends on the way)! <3

marinautami January 6, 2015 - 1:33 am

Thankyouuuu brit!! I appreciate it!! Yaaay! I will see you soon here in Indonesia! 🙂

Matius Teguh Nugroho January 6, 2015 - 1:02 am

Such a serene lake and wonderful temples! Love the temples!

I enjoyed your writing. Kamu kayaknya udah mulai menemukan konsep blog kamu ya. Keep it up! 😀

marinautami January 6, 2015 - 1:32 am

Thankyou! Mohon terus wejangannya yaakk 🙂
Still learning again!

Evaliana (@ch_evaliana) January 6, 2015 - 11:30 am

Whuaaa cuma satu kata, TERPUKAU. Clearly narration, very detail stories and yet beautiful picture.

marinautami January 6, 2015 - 11:45 am

Terima kasiiih evaaa… Terus belajar sama suhunya deh! (a.k.a eluuuu) 😀

What I Have Learned from Solo Traveling | JEJAK MARINA January 18, 2015 - 3:51 am

[…] of their friend, and in the end they taught us to speak Japanese instead. The amazing villagers of Inle Lake where we were being a part of their family and they showed us their daily life. And I would never […]

viraindohoy January 22, 2015 - 4:18 pm

darn. we gave up our tickets (that we got on discount) to Myanmar last year because the timing just wasan’t right (financially). We were actually going to aim for Inle Lake festival, after the information that we got from other tourists the year before when we were in Bagan. Hopefully someday my husband and I can make it to Inle Lake! it looks so laid-back 🙂
and it’s so nice of you to make a sketch of the mother 🙂

jejakmarina January 22, 2015 - 4:41 pm

Yeah Myanmar was expensive tho. Almost the same like traveling in Spore but different standard quality 🙁 Ah yes! The Festival! That one is good too! We arrived exactly 3 days after the festival finished, so we saw couple of the festival boats.
Go visit Inle Lake! Perfect place to escape techno and digital world 🙂
People of Myanmar are super duper friendly. *Truth hurts: More sincere than Indonesian (sorry gotta say it!)

viraindohoy January 22, 2015 - 4:51 pm

hm, well, we did go to Bagan for 5 days and Yangon for 1 day. But we didn’t get that impression that the people are more sincere than Indonesia. They’re just the same in general. Or maybe it’s the people in Inle Lake that are more friendly?

jejakmarina January 23, 2015 - 1:34 am

Really? Well, we had like amazing local experiences a lot in Mandalay, Bagan, Inle and Yangon. Inle was the best tho, maybe bcs its far away from modern world. But the rest of the city were nice too! The shops and seller on the street, they don’t push you to buy something, I said “No” once and then they understand. Youngsters greeted us friendly and learnt english with us on the park. There was a nice tour guide in Shwedagon Pagoda willing to took us around with bus and train around Yangon, with no intention at all, simply just introducing his hometown.

viraindohoy January 23, 2015 - 5:40 am

yeah, the souvenir sellers weren’t as pushy as the ones in, say, Siem Reap, but the young ones at some pagodas/temples did get a little bit pushy I had to say no a few times until they stopped begging us to buy something. However, I’ve never really felt ‘pushed’ in Indonesia either. We also met a friendly guy at one of the smaller temples (I forgot the name) in Bagan, who showed us which way to go in etc, but in the end he was selling us those sand paintings. He didn’t seem to be angry though when we finally didn’t buy anything, so that was alright. Well, I guess we just had different kinds of experiences with the people 🙂

aeljee January 24, 2015 - 3:57 pm

I’m sorry, I was so distracted by the pictures!!! lol, this post is beautiful and reminds me that your experience was enhanced because of the beautiful energy you put out. You are a beautiful soul!! Keep living and doing the dang thing!!!

jejakmarina January 26, 2015 - 3:51 pm

Thankyouuu April! I am blushing now! Hahahaha.. I am still learning to write and honestly: my grammar sucks. LOL Well I will keep doing the dang thing tho! 🙂

Shayne Zalameda February 18, 2015 - 12:37 pm

Lovely photos!!! Makes me wanna go there soon! 🙂

jejakmarina February 19, 2015 - 4:13 pm

You should! I totally recommend it!

10 Tips How To Travel Like a Local | RUNWAY MARINA | Jejak Marina March 31, 2017 - 5:25 am

[…] lucky found lots of good hosts in Couchsurfing that enable me to live like they do. The family in Inle Lake was an unforgettable memory that I had. One thing for sure; even the smallest thing they do in their daily life, that they […]


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