Solo Travel Destination: Inle Lake, Myanmar

We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Jasmine, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Jasmine is from Australia, and submitted the following report about Inle Lake. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!

Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult. Please see chart below)

Languages spoken: Burmese, English

photo, image, stilt houses, nampan, myanmar

Stilt houses in Nampan village, Inle Lake.

Reasons to go:  Compared to the 14 million tourists who visit Thailand every year, Myanmar is only just starting to push the 1 million mark. Whilst Inle Lake is one of the most visited regions in the country, it is still easy to find places where you will feel that you are the only foreigner for miles.

Nyaungshwe is the main traveler center and the best place to base yourself. From here you can book boat trips on the lake (directly with the boatmen in the main canal, with local travel agents, or through your hotel). A typical trip will take in Inthein, where the jungle has grown over the ornately carved crumbling stupas. There are also floating gardens, monasteries, markets, and, of course, the iconic Inle Lake fishermen, who row with one leg.

On a full day trip further south to Second Lake, you will find local Shan, Intha, and Pa-O Villages and you can visit the village of Sankar with a Pa-O guide. Leaving early in the morning can guarantee having the village to yourself before the boatloads of other tourists arrive.

Tired of sitting in a boat? Hire a bicycle in town and check out some of the sites around the lake. Heading southwest out of town you’ll pass gorgeous beds of bright pink lotus flowers and you can visit a hilltop monastery and bathe in the local hot springs. From here a boatman can take you and your bike across the lake to pedal north back to town. A stop at Red Mountain Estate is a must here. Not expecting to find a winery in Myanmar, it is a pleasant surprise to discover not only great views and excellent food, but pretty good wine too.

Without a doubt the most memorable part of a visit to the lake are the people. From smiling children waving from boats, to monks wanting to practice their English and friendly locals just wanting to learn more about the world outside Myanmar, the people of Inle Lake are most welcoming to the solo traveler.

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The delicate carvings on stupas at Inthein.

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Local children on Inle Lake.

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A local fisherman on Inle Lake.

Solo Travel Destination Rating System

Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)

Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)

Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)

Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)

Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 4 is most difficult)


  • Miles of Happiness

    I’ve heard a lot about this beautiful place, and really hope I’ll manage to plan a trip to Myanmar soon… before it gets to trendy! Your pictures are stunning btw.

  • Henry

    Interesting conversation as I will be going in January for 8 days. Guess I will have to do more googling of options for the trip.

  • germaine

    So beautiful. I will get my own experience of myanmar early next year. I planned to travel around myanmar for two weeks next year. I need some advice if you don’t mind. Will it be high cost for a solo traveller to go around the country? I’m a medium budget traveller. Will 400usd be enough there include accomodation and transportation and meal fee?

  • Corinne Vail

    I definitely have Myanmar on my list. Your photos are gorgeous, and yes, I want to get there before the word is completely out!

  • TravelnLass

    Sounds like you really enjoyed Inle, Jasmine. Me? Not so much.

    I just recently explored Myanmar for three weeks (Yangon, Kalaw, overnight motorbike trek to Inle, Bagan, train to Mandalay, and my fave, Hsipaw) and… Though I fully expected to LOVE Inle (the cooler temps, the beauty and serenity of the lake…) and originally had planned to stay at least 4 nts. there, I found it exceedingly touristy. Perhaps because I’ve lived in Southeast Asia for nearly 3 years (2 in Vietnam), I have a very low tolerance for such. But in any case, I high-tailed it out of Inle after just 2 nights.

    Perhaps I missed something at Inle, or more likely – just goes to show that we each experience any given corner of the world differently. I’m glad you enjoyed your stay there, but for me – cutting Inle short gave me a bonus I hadn’t planned on: spending 4 nights in Hsipaw (6 hrs. by bus northeast of Manadaly) that’s still blessedly untouched by tourism.