Inle Lake / Naung Shwe Travel Guide
Don’t bother with Inle Lake
No one has the guts to strike Inle Lake from their itinerary because “what if it is amazing?!”. Isn’t it like going to Cambodia and actively missing Luang Prabang?! Nile lake is the worst tourist town in the whole country and if we could do it all again we would actively miss it and use the 2-3 days elsewhere. Strongly suggest you do the same.
What if you have to do it?
Actively think about possibly stunmping up the cash to stay on the lake. But that’s the difference between a hotel in Nuang Shwe for $40 and a hotel on the river for $200 though it will keep you away from idiot tourists. If you do stay in town play the game of which restaurants are in Lonely Planet as they are full of tourists and not a local in sight.
Turn your camera on the tourists.
How to get in and out quickly in Inle Lake
We arrived from Taunggyi at 11am. We thought you had to go in the morning for a full day on Inle Lake (which you don’t – we went out at 7am and basically told the driver we had had enough and to drop us back when we were sick of it at about 12pm) so we stayed of the day then did the boat the next day and shipped out the next evening – such a waste of good travel time. What would we do? Give it a complete miss but otherwise if you get into town by 12pm – get a boat immediately and get a guesthouse to hold your luggage and organise a bus out at 7pm (when all the buses depart). Locals have no rapport as this is the one town they know they can make money off tourists.
Where to eat in Naung Shwe?
Try and eat your meals on the outskirts of town where you might find a street food vendor. We only found one as restaurant dominated so you will end up paying $6 for a plate of westernised food which would normally cover 3-4 days of food when you’re travelling the rest of the country.
This is the only market where there is a constant flow of tourists through the space and the locals just want you to keep out of their way while they shop. It was the only place we found that we were not a novelty to the locals.