Inle Lake is one of the most astonishing places of nature to visit Myanmar. As we visited it, we had the impression of being in another country. People and nature there are so different from Yangon. In this article, we will explain to you how to get to Inle lake from Yangon and we will share our experience there together with recommendations and some advice to enjoy your stay to the fullest.
How To Get To Inle Lake
The way to Inle lake is an amazing experience in itself, an adventurous journey to embark on. The distance from Yangon to Inle Lake is quite long, about 585 km by road.
Right now planning your Myanmar journey? Check here our Myanmar backpacking itinerary
When visiting Inle lake from Yangon there are a few transport options to consider. You can use the train, fly to Inle Lake, or go by bus. Also, you can even hire a driver to take you there.
The bus is the most common option. But the other ones have their own advantages. Whichever option you wish, it would be great if you consider the cost, comfort, and traveling experience as the main factors to make your decision.
Now let’s discuss the available means of getting there.
Getting from Yangon To Inle Lake By Bus
This is the most common mean of transport. From Yangon, you can get to Inle lake by bus, but you don’t just choose any type of bus as there are two options for you. Using the local bus service or traveling through a touristy so-called VIP bus.
The VIP bus
Yes, as expected, the VIP bus is more comfortable, but it is high in price, compared to the local bus. Another advantage is that the VIP bus doesn’t stop on the way too often, making it a fast option. Additionally, the VIP bus can be booked online, making it possible for you to plan your tour in advance. The VIP bus typically leaves Yangon by 6 pm to travel overnight and arrives at Inle lake around 5 am. With this option, you will win sometimes and save the accommodation cost for one night. The VIP bus is faster than the local bus. The drawback is, however, that you won’t be able to enjoy the views by night and the landscapes, which are really worth it.
The local bus
On the other hand and if you are on a tight budget, or if you want to experience the local Burmese lifestyle, you can still use a local bus. It costs you about 15500 Kyats (roughly USD 10). To do this, simply ask the hotel you are staying in Yangon or locate a tour agency in the city center of Yangon and make inquiries. Always compare prices, they can differ.
Don’t expect the local bus to arrive on time though since there would be many stops. It takes roughly 14 hours to get to Inle lake. So get yourself ready for a fun-filled adventurous long ride!
The local bus station you need to stop as is Nyaung Shwe. This village is about 5 kilometers from the lake. From there, you will find some Tuk Tuk’s waiting around. Discuss the prices and they will drive you to Inle Lake main entrance.
Flying To Inle Lake
Certainly, the fastest way to get to Inle lake. You won’t spend much time on your journey as it takes about 3 hours 45 minutes! Depending on the season, you’ll come across different airlines that operate directly from Yangon to Inle Lake. The airport you’ll fly from is the Yangon International airport (RGN) in Mingaladon and on arrival, you’ll land at the He Hoe Airport (HEH). It is just a few minutes from Nyaung Shwe.
This option is the best for you if you are on a tight schedule and don’t have enough time in Myanmar. With the price falling between $120-$260, it is way much more expensive than the other options.
Getting To Inle Lake By Train
So in general, the train in Myanmar is slower than the bus. That’s why in this case, the journey will be much longer.
You should buy tickets from Yangon station for train number 3. It is actually an overnight train and leaves at 5 p.m. This train travels via Bago and Naypyitaw, before arriving at Thazi at 4.55 a.m. The train has Upper-Class Sleeper cabins and Upper-Class seats.
The train from Thazi to Shwe Nyaung has the number 141. It departs at 07:00 and is scheduled to arrive at Kalaw at 13:15, Aungban at 14:05, Heho (for the airport) at 15:30, and Shwe Nyaung at 5:00. This is a 10-hour journey by train on either Upper-Class seats or “ordinary” seats.
Best Time To Visit Inle Lake
Like every other tourist attraction, there is always a period of the year you would enjoy visiting the most, and Inle lake is not different.
The weather is the major factor to consider as you don’t want to be caught up in unexpected conditions. Inle lake is quite high and has got typical mountain weather. It is majorly divided into the dry and wet seasons.
Here, the coldest months are November and December, while the hottest months are May and June. With this in mind, it’s not advisable to visit when the weather is hot. Therefore, from our experience, you should visit Inle lake between October through February because the weather is nice during this time. We were there in February and it was so comfortable.
What To Bring On Your Trip From Yangon To Inle Lake
While traveling to Inle lake, you need to get yourself prepared because the journey is an adventurous one, especially when traveling by bus or train.
When visiting Inle lake you should get ready for the sun by getting yourself a hat because it will be useful when exploring the lake and nearby attractions.
Furthermore, traveling by bus or train can be cold at night, therefore, getting a warm top is advised.
While boat-touring, the weather could be windy and water splashed by the boat could come in the opposite direction, that is why think about bringing a waterproof bag to keep your camera dry.
Definitely, as you visit Inle lake you want to explore some temples which we will mention later on. As a tradition, it is mandatory to remove your shoes, so you should come along with flip-flops ensuring that you won’t have difficulties removing your shoes before entering the temples.
Dress Code In Inle Lake
From the name, you know that boat trips are definitely the major things to do in Inle lake, hence you should dress in such a way that climbing in and out of the boat will be easy. To make this possible you should get a pair of comfortable sandals along with suitable clothes.
Top Places To Visit In Inle Lake
When you arrive at Inle lake the atmosphere will amaze you and surely you won’t want to delay exploring this beautiful spot. Certainly, a boat trip is a must, but there are other off-water places to visit, and they include:
The Floating Gardens of Inle lake
These gardens are very popular and tourists are rushing to feel its charm and see for themselves how it looks. Scattered all over the lake, these gardens were made by the local farmers to grow their harvest. As you explore, you will notice these local farmers peacefully moving around the gardens in their canoes, making sure their plants are in good health.
The fishermen who live on the lake and are usually doing fishing activities all day, grow the vegetables in those gardens. A stunning way of agriculture.
Visit the Pagodas of Indein
Ancient temples are scattered all over Inle lake, and these will keep you amazed! There is a village located towards the west of the lake which can be accessed through a small river. As you arrive in Indein, the ancient Pagodas that awaits you will keep you speechless and amazed! They congregate in one area, and as mentioned earlier, this is where your flip-flop becomes useful because it is mandatory to enter the temples barefoot and you don’t want to stress yourself tying and untying your shoes.
A Visit To The Five Day Market
This is a wonder to behold and one of the reasons tourists visit Inle Lake. It is called a five-day market because, over a period of five days, it shifts from one village to the next, and comes back to the first one, then the cycle repeats itself again and again!
An attractive site, villagers from nearby mountains, and other villages troop in to sell their wares, which includes food, rattan baskets, and much more.
Well, there is so much to do in Inle Lake, I won’t be able to cover it all, but if you are looking for nature-related activities, you can try the Kalaw hike. I didn’t do this myself but it seems to be a great experience!
Made it from Yangon to Inle Lake, where to go next?
Now that you have successfully toured Inle lake, where do you head next? As it is, you either head to Mandalay or Bagan, depending on your schedule.
How To Get From Inle Lake To Mandalay
Getting to Mandalay from Inle lake can be done through the bus, a private taxi, or by flight.
There are both night buses and day buses from Inle Lake to Mandalay, and they run every day.
You can get these buses from the main entrance of Inle Lake. It takes about 7-eight hours but costs just about $10-15. However, before you choose a bus, note that there are two types of buses you can get, one is the proper full-size bus that runs mostly at night while the other is the minivan shuttles, which you can get most in the day, but you won’t feel comfortable because the minivans are usually jam-packed.
If moving by bus is not convenient for you but you still want to go by road, then you can hire a private taxi driver to take you to Mandalay. The price varies and depends on your negotiation with the taxi driver.
Luckily, there is a flight option and you can fly from Inle Lake to Mandalay which is usually very fast. It costs about $65 and the time spent is typically 30 minutes. Among the several airlines offering daily flights, Golden Myanmar is preferable because it has a direct flight every morning, and you can fly from the Heho Airport (HEH) in Inle Lake to Mandalay airport.
How To Get From Inle Lake To Bagan
Moving to Bagan from Inle lake is possible through road or by flight, but there is no train service due to the difficult terrain of the area.
When you choose the option of a bus, it takes about 7 – 8 hours, but flying from Inle Lake to Bagan is just about 40 minutes. Traveling by road can be done through a private taxi or by bus, and a private car trip costs between $100- $200, depending on your negotiation skills. However, to save costs, it will be nice if other tourists are willing to take a taxi with you.
Booking a VIP bus costs about $13-$17 and the journey typically lasts between 8- 9 hours. This can be a long ride, so get ready beforehand. A minivan takes about 9 hours and costs between $12-$15, and even though it takes almost the same time as the VIP bus, it is usually crowded making you uncomfortable.
The other option is by air, and as usual, the flight is the fastest but costs more. It takes about 40 minutes and costs between $70 – 120. The preferable option is to fly from Heho (HEH) airport in Inle Lake to Nyaung-U airport (NYU) in Bagan through airlines with direct flights like Myanmar National Airlines and Myanmar Airways International.
Here is all what you should know about getting to Bagan and what to do there
Rounding it all up
Inle lake is a mystery of the world and an exciting place to visit when you tour Myanmar. If you have read from the beginning, at this point you must have learned some interesting things about visiting Inle lake from Yangon and remarkable places to visit, including tips and you can’t just wait to make your journey a memorable one! For a detailed guide on visiting Myanmar, read our Myanmar travel guide here.