At Nyaung Shwe and Inle Lake in the Shan State, Myanmar, hiring a boat for the day is a must do.
Aside from the chance to enjoy the beauty of the lake, a boatman will take you places that are otherwise difficult to visit. My previous post, On Inle, shows you the activity on the lake itself, this post focusses more on life on the lake shore.
There are artisan villages each with their own speciality, including silversmiths, weavers, and cheroot makers.
There’s also a daily market, the location of which rotates between the villages surrounding the lake. The day we hired a boat the market was at Inn Dein.
Although it was the beginning of the dry season, afternoon showers were common. The boatman provided umbrellas and our plastic ponchos that had been essential in Laos got another work out.
We ate our lunch taking in this view of Phaung Daw Oo Paya.
The Paya houses Buddha images so reverered they are unrecognisable due to the layers of gold gilt applied by the devout.
The Nga Hpe Kyaung monastery is another popular place to stop. Apart from its stunningly beautiful location, on stilts over the lake, it’s famous for the cats which monks have trained to jump through hoops. I saw the cats, surrounded by tourists, but they weren’t jumping that day. The monks went about their business, oblivious to the hordes of visitors.
Where-ever I looked there was activity on the lake and in the canals.
Our boatman was patient, attended to our requests, and when necessary helped me clamber in and out of the boat.
A boat will cost approximately 18,000 Kyat for the day.
Book a boat through your hotel or guest house, rather than from the street.
Take a rain poncho. Some snacks might be a good idea, too —I was starving by the time we encountered our first food stall.
There’s a typical itinerary for a day on the lake but if visiting artisan studios isn’t your thing, tell your boatman.