Inle Lake Yoga

Are you stiff from your long journey to reach Inle Lake or just trying to keep up with your personal wellness routine? Yoga classes can be hard to find in Myanmar and outside of large cities in Asia. Lucky for you Song of Travel Hostel hosts two free yoga groups every day!

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Join us on our rooftop for sunrise yoga at 7 am every morning and again at 5 pm every evening. Fiona, owner of Song of Travel Hostel at Inle Lake, hosts the classes. She will talk to the group first to see what level people are comfortable with. All lessons provide modifications so that beginners are comfortable and those with more experience can challenge themselves a bit more.

The 7 am group generally lasts between 30 and 40 minutes. Feel free to come to the rooftop early, around 6:30 am to watch a spectacular sunrise over the eastern mountain range. After yoga enjoy breakfast and coffee.

The evening class at 5 pm runs between 40 minutes and an hour, depending on the lesson chosen by the group. Shortly after the evening Inle Lake yoga ends you can watch the sunset over the western mountain rage and enjoy our rooftop happy hour.

Feel free to start and end your day of adventures with our free yoga in Inle Lake at the Song of Travel Hostel rooftop.

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Inle Lake Boat Tours

The best way to explore all that Inle Lake has to offer is by boat. At Song of Travel Hostel we offer full day boat tours that will let you see the magic of the area with your own eyes. While we provide these exceptional day trips to our guests, we allow anyone to join our trips, no matter where in Nyaung Shwe you are staying. Simply reserve your spot with our reception no later than the day before your trip. We offer both a sunrise trip and a sunset trip, but highly recommend the sunrise trip for the spectacular light, breakfast, amount of fishermen you will see, and the opportunity to visit the 5 day market.

For Song of Travel Guests the cost is 16,500 kyat. Guests from other hostels pay an extra 1,000 and will be picked up by tuk-tuk from their hostel on the way to the boat. While the price is a bit more than other boat organizers, our trip includes a packed breakfast to be eaten on the lake while watching the sunrise (if on the sunrise trip), as well as a huge family style lunch hosted by a local family in a floating home, where you can also experience canoeing in a small traditional teak canoe. Other boats will take you to restaurants on the lake for lunch where you will pay high tourist prices for food and drink.

On the morning of the boat trip, you will be picked up for the sunrise from the hostel at 5:30 am by a friendly tuk-tuk driver. Don’t worry, we offer wake up calls. You will be driven down to the local jetty where you will board your boat. The group may be split into two boats depending on the number of people participating, but the boats will stay together all day. The boat makes its way along the edge of town, offering a memorable pre-dawn view of pagodas, markets, and monks. It is chilly this time of day, any time of year, so bring a warm layer. The boats also have enough blankets for every passenger.

Inle Lake Fisherman

Inle Lake Fisherman

As you reach the lake you will see only a few other boats out, mostly carrying locals at this hour. You will pass local fishermen, both traditional and more modern. The traditional fishermen you see, with large bamboo conical nets, may not actually be fishing. Most of these traditionally dressed men are actually waiting for groups of tourists to pass by so they can pose for photos. These men are expert models and give photographers great material. They do expect tips for their performances. Our boat drivers don’t stop for these showmen, though you will likely still see some from a distance. You will certainly see actual fishermen out working. They still use their legs to paddle the boat but instead of the large bamboo cone they gently lay down nylon nets. They may or may not be wearing traditional clothing, but they are still interesting and photogenic, and important members of the Inle Lake community.

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As the sun begins to illuminate the sky from behind the eastern mountain range your boat will park along the floating gardens. The drivers will serve you Shan tea while they assemble your breakfasts. Breakfast consists of vegetable steamed rice, wrapped in a banana leaf, and vegetable samosas, as well as a banana. As you eat you will see the sky glow in beautiful reds and oranges as the sun dramatically emerges over the mountains. This is likely to be one of your most memorable breakfast experiences.

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From the floating gardens at sunrise you will be taken to a local silversmith shop on the lake. A local will great you at the dock and welcome you inside where she will explain the origins of silver in the region and take you through the workshop where you can see silver being melted, purified, shaped and delicately worked into beautiful jewelry the local traditional styles. The shop is almost like a museum of local styles of silver jewelry from the various tribes of Shan State. It also holds a collection of precious stones from all across Myanmar. You can also find local puppets, wooden and brass sculptures, and various other traditional crafts. This is a great place to pick up souvenirs and gifts, but there is no pressure to buy anything.

Inle Lake Lotus Weaving

Inle Lake Lotus Weaving

From the silversmith you will ride through a floating community to arrive at a lotus weaving center in Paw Khon Village. You will see how the local women create strong silken threads from the fibers of a lotus stem. You see how much time and work goes into creating the threads from which local textiles are made. Because the lotus thread takes so much work and so many lotus plants, it is very expensive and locally is generally reserved for making robes for monks. A small scarf requires about 4,000 lotus stems, while a monk’s robe can use more than 220,000 lotus stems. You will see women working large looms, creating scarves and longyis, the cylindrical sheet of cloth worn like a skirt by both Burmese men and women, from silk and cotton. You will pass through a room where the lotus, silk, and cotton fibers are being dyed in natural pigments like tree bark, leaves, seeds, and jackfruit. There is a shop attached to the workshop where you can browse many handmade textiles and clothing. It is impressive to see the final pieces after learning how much work goes into making every strand.

5 Day Market at Thaung Tho

5 Day Market at Thaung Tho

The next destination is the 5 day market. The location of the market changes every day throughout 5 villages of Inle Lake. They are all accessible by boat and will have the same vendors selling the same products. The entrance of the markets usually have stalls selling handicrafts and trinkets geared towards tourists. As you walk further into the market you’ll see the rows of booths crowded with locals. There are stalls selling tea leaves and dried herbs, brightly colored spices, medicines, fruits and vegetables, sewing supplies, chicken, fresh fish, some still flopping around. This is where the locals come for nearly all of their supplies. There are small food stalls and tea houses tucked into the isles of the market, which are a great place to sit and watch all of the activity. Save room for your lunch, though.

Inle Lake Cigarette & Cheroot Rollers

Inle Lake Cigarette & Cheroot Rollers

From the market you are taken to a nearby cigarette and cigar shop. Here you will see the entire process of cigars, locally called cheroots, and cigarettes being hand rolled. There are usually a few women working at a time, each ones hands moving faster than you can imagine. The average worker rolls 500 each day. One woman who has worked there more than 40 years rolls closer to 1,000 cigars a day. Both cheroots and cigarettes are wrapped in thanat leaves, which are grown in the mountains. Inle Lake is known for its variety of tobacco flavors in their cigarettes. While they do have plain tobacco options, you can also try tobacco flavored with cinnamon, banana, star anise, cloves, or mint. You are welcomed to sample any or all of these flavors at the shop.

An Assortment of Inle Lake Local Foods

An Assortment of Inle Lake Local Foods

By this time you have likely worked up an appetite. You will be taken to the home of a local family where you will be greeted with tea and tealeaf salad while lunch is freshly being assembled. You can speak with the host and ask questions about the community, culture , daily life, etc, or just enjoy the views from the many windows. You will move in to the next room where you will together on the floor around a large table that will be covered in food. The first courses are all vegetarian. You will enjoy a variety of salads, including a tomato salad, cucumber salad, watercress salad, roasted vegetables, and french fries. Each person is given a generous bowl of rice and a fried egg omelette, and a tofu noodle soup. Hopefully you save some room, as the hosts bring out a fish, freshly prepared in the local style, for each non-vegetarian guest. After the meal watermelon is brought out. You are encouraged to try thanaka, the pulp of a local tree bark used on the face of nearly every person you see in Myanmar. It works as a natural sunscreen and you may appreciate it on the rest of your boat trip in the mid day sun. From the home, you are taken on traditional Inle Lake teak canoes, smaller than the boat you arrived in. There is no motor and you can try the traditional foot rowing technique used by the locals. When you return to the local home you have about 20 minutes to rest and let your food settle before returning to the lake.

After lunch you will go for a scenic ride on the lake and down the Inn Thein Creek to reach the Indein pagoda complex. The journey itself is relaxing and you can enjoy quiet corners of the Inle Lake area. You will see farm workers and monks bathing in the creek and buffalo catching a refreshing splash. There are a number of footbridges you will pass under on your way to Indein, often with monks crossing. You’ll get dropped off at the bottom of the hill leading up to Indein. The path uphill is basically a covered market area. Depending on the day there may only be a few souvenir sellers or the entire path may be lively with packed booths. You will see stupas on both sides of the walkway along the way up. Some of the older, more interesting ones can be found towards the bottom of the hill on your left. As you reach the top of the hill you will see mostly new stupas made from white stone and/or concrete with lots of gold decoration.

The last stop of this full day tour of Inle Lake is the Maing Thauk Bridge. This 500 meter teak walking bridge was built to connect two parts of the village and allow quicker access for some to the 5 day market when it is held in the Maing Thauk village. You can walk as far along the bridge as you’d like, or stop in one of the bars along the bridge for an afternoon beer before making your way back to Nyaung Shwe and Song of Travel Hostel.

The ride home is quick. The occasional splashes of water will likely be refreshing in the afternoon sun. Most people are pretty tired at this point, having gotten up so early and filling the day with so many different sights and experiences. You will return to Song of Travel around 4 or 4:30 pm with photos, memories, stories to tell, and hopefully some new friends.

The sunset boat trip around Inle Lake is very similar, but it departs the hostel at 10 am and returns after the sunset, around 6:30 pm. While this trip does not visit the 5 day market, it does visit an old British meeting house from the early 1900s. While we recommend the sunrise tour, you will not be disappointed with either. This is an experience not to miss!

Trekking Inle Lake

There is no better way to discover the treasures of the Inle Lake area than by trekking. Luckily there are a number of possibilities for trekking Inle Lake.

Song of Travel Hostel at Inle Lake offers a one day trekking trip around the mountains east of Nyaung Shwe. The trip can be slightly customized depending on what the group wants to see. The group leaves the hostel at 8 am. In the mountains you will encounter some of the most stunning views of Inle Lake and see few, if any, other tourists. You will be provided a bottle of water and will stop to enjoy lunch together in the home of a local hill village family. The average journey is about 22 km and arrives back to the hostel between 3:30 and 5:30 in the afternoon, depending on the pace and interests of the trekkers. The guide is one of the local staff at Song of Travel, familiar with the area and with strong English.

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Many people arrive to Inle Lake after a 2 or 3 day trek from Kalaw. You can easily catch a bus from most cities in Myanmar to Kalaw. While you can start the trek around sunrise after arriving by overnight bus, Kalaw is a lovely town to spend a day or two. It was founded as a British station during colonial rule. It is located in the hills at 1320 meters (4330 ft.) elevation where the temperature remains cooler than the rest of the region. There are many lovely day walks you can take around town where you will see friendly locals, flower and vegetable gardens, and remnants of the British colonial era including an overgrown golf course and crumbling colonial mansions. You can walk up hill to the Thein Taung monastery for lovely views of the whole town.

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On the 2 day trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake the first day begins by walking through villages of Pa-O people. You’ll see them working in the rice fields and farming mustard, garlic, corn, ginger and chiles. This is a great way to observe the local people as they go about their daily lives. Locals are friendly and you’ll find most of them smiling at you. The group will stop at Kone Hla village for lunch and later Pattu Pauk for tea before arriving at Htee Tein monastery where the group will spend the night. The second day begins with breakfast served at the monastery and meeting with the head monk. The trekking will be all downhill after the first 30 minutes. The group stops in Indein village for a local lunch and amazing views of Inle Lake below. After lunch you hike down to the lake where the group will board a boat for an afternoon ride across the lake to reach Nyaung Shwe, where you will find Song of Travel Hostel. The 3 day trek includes an extra day in the beginning, where you will see more villages of both Pa-O and Danu tribes. The first night you will stay at a local homestay. The second night you will stay in the Htee Tein monastery.

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There are many trekking companies based in Kalaw where you can book your trek. Jungle King and Ever Smile are two reputable companies who always have trekkers safety in mind. Your packs will be delivered to the hostel before you arrive, so you have less to carry.

If you are planning your trip to Inle Lake we highly recommend looking into a trekking adventure to arrive here. You will meet new and interesting people, experience moments of life with the locals, and see incredible views most tourists visiting Inle Lake miss.

Inle Lake Cycling Loop

Inle Lake is a an enchanted area in Shan State. Most people have seen the idyllic photos of the traditional fishermen and floating villages built on stilts. There are countless treasures off the beaten path, however. We encourage you to try cycling the loop circuit around the lake area. We welcome guests to take our bicycles out for adventures and sights many people will miss. Here is a guide for cycling around Inle Lake.

Before sharing the impressive sites, it is important to note that it can get really hot here. We recommend taking bike trips in the morning. It stays nice and cool until almost noon, even in the hot season. It also tends to cool down after 4pm if you’d prefer an evening ride. Always bring a sunhat, sunscreen and water with you. In rainy season it is advisable to bring a raincoat, as storms can appear any time.

100s of Buddha statues line the walls

100s of Buddha statues line the walls

One of the closer destinations to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway to Inle Lake, is the Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery. Shwe Yan Pyay monastery is 4 km (2.5 miles) from Song of Travel Hostel and directly north of town. It’s incredibly easy to find. From the hostel you bike down the main road in town, Yone Gyi Street, until you reach the market. Turn right on the street just past the market, Shwenyaung - Nyuaungswe Road, and continue straight along Tharzi Pond until you reach the monastery. It should take the average person 20 minutes to half an hour to arrive there on bike. Shwe Yan Pyay monastery is special because it is 150 years old, made of teak and has large, uncommon oval windows. It was built to house poor boys from the area who will become novice monks when they come to live here. The monastery contains a shrine that holds well over 100 Buddha statues in small niches in wall, illuminated by candles. This monastery is not often visited by tourists despite its proximity to town, and has a unique, peaceful atmosphere.

Innoo Pagoda

Innoo Pagoda

To the South West you can find a number of interesting sights. The two most popular are the Khaing Daing Hot Springs and Khaing Daing Village, also known as ‘Tofu Village’. To reach these destinations take the main road in town (Yone Gyi Street) south and cross the bridge. Follow the sometimes winding road along the local streets and rice fields until you come to a T and can no longer go straight. Take a left and continue for about 4 km, until you see a sign for Khaing Daing Hot Springs on the left. You will pass Innoo Pagoda, a collection of beautiful golden stupas, on your way and it is definitely worth visiting. When you enter you will be guided to 3 pools that have recently been built for tourists and charged about 15,000 kyat to use them. You can choose to join the locals in the original pools, in which men and women are separated, for 7,500 kyat.

15 minutes beyond the Inle Lake hot springs is the ‘Tofu Village’. This small community is comprised of families who each specialize in making different foods, including the tofu for which the village is well known. Other treats include local candies make from brown sugar harvested from local sugar cane, fried crackers, rice crackers, seasoned seeds and nuts, and ‘happy water,’ or home distilled rice wine. Upon arriving to the village you are taken on a free tour where you see the families producing the snacks and you’re able to sample all of them. Come hungry because they share a generous amount of food with you. Refreshingly, there is no pressure to buy anything. There is not even a shop. You are welcome to purchase snacks from the families, but you’ll have to ask your guide to facilitate the transaction. After the tour you are given more snacks and are able to ask any questions you have about the village, area, culture, government, or whatever piques your interest. It is a great opportunity to have a real conversation with a local. Though they don’t pressure you, donations are encouraged. The suggested donation is 3,000 kyats. The money the village earns is pooled together to pay for schools and roads and the new sustainable tree farm to power the ovens used to create all of the foodstuffs. After visiting, chances are you will feel really good about leaving a little bit of money with these lovely people.

From Tofu Village, also known as Tofu Palace, you can take your bikes on a boat across the lake. Negotiate with the drivers, but the average price 10,000 for 2 people and 2 bicycles on the boat. The boat driver will drop you off on the east side of Inle Lake near Maing Thauk Bridge. From there you can bike to the Maing Thauk forest monastery for amazing views of the lake before riding north 6 km to the Inle Lake natural swimming pool.

On the way back towards Nyaung Shwe you will find Red Mountain Estates Winery & Vineyard. It is only 3.5 km from the natural pool and about the same distance from the hostel. You will see the sign for the winery and turn right. There is a covered area to park your bikes as you walk up to the winery. Wine tastings are 5,000 kyat for 4 local Burmese wines of Inle Lake. You can also order wine and food in the restaurant and stay to watch the sunset over the mountains and Inle Lake. It’s a stunning sight.

Htet Eain cave temple

Htet Eain cave temple

If you want to see more before returning to Song of Travel hostel, you can visit the Htet Eain Gu Cave Temple and Monastery. This cave is located 2.7km east of the hostel and is very easy to find. From the winery continue north towards town until you reach Yone Gyi Street. Continue on this road until you reach Bamboo Garden. From there you will probably want to park your bikes and walk uphill to the cave. The path will be marked. If you are going to the Cave from the hostel turn left from the hostel doors. At the second intersection turn right. Continue until the 5th intersection where you will turn right on Yone Gyi Street. Out of respect to the culture, please cover your shoulders and your legs when entering the cave. You will find hundreds of Buddha images and figures inside this cave and are likely to encounter monks and few other tourists, especially the earlier in the day you go.

These are only a few of the sights that can easily be explored by one of our free bikes in Inle Lake. Ask our knowledgeable staff about other lesser known routes and destinations if you are up for an even bigger adventure!


1. Morning Market  2. Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery (photogenic wooden)  3. La Riziere Burette Restaurant  4. Walk up hill for an amazing view!  5. Khaung Daing Hot Springs ($10 entry fee)  6. Tofu Village - see how locals produce their food.  Tour and sample local treats and fill up on tofu  and tea at Tofu Palace for a 3000ks donation to  Khaung Daing village  7. Boat across the lake!  (10000ks for 2 people & 2 bikes)  8. Maing Thauk Bridge. We think it is better than  U Bain Bridge  9. Forest Monastery offers sweeping views of  Inle Lake  10. Natural Swimming Pool  11. Bamboo Hut Restaurant  12. Red Mountain Estates Winery  13. Htet Eain Cave temple

1. Morning Market

2. Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery (photogenic wooden)

3. La Riziere Burette Restaurant

4. Walk up hill for an amazing view!

5. Khaung Daing Hot Springs ($10 entry fee)

6. Tofu Village - see how locals produce their food.

Tour and sample local treats and fill up on tofu

and tea at Tofu Palace for a 3000ks donation to

Khaung Daing village

7. Boat across the lake!

(10000ks for 2 people & 2 bikes)

8. Maing Thauk Bridge. We think it is better than

U Bain Bridge

9. Forest Monastery offers sweeping views of

Inle Lake

10. Natural Swimming Pool

11. Bamboo Hut Restaurant

12. Red Mountain Estates Winery

13. Htet Eain Cave temple

Top 10 Things to do at Inle Lake

Inle Lake is a peaceful area in Shan State, central Myanmar. Though there are already many Western amenities in place like spas, hotels, and even a local craft beer bar, tourism is just starting to blossom in Inle Lake. We highly recommend visiting before it becomes a major tourist hotspot.

Nyanung Shwe is the biggest village on Inle Lake and where most tourists stay. It is a great starting out point to reach all of the Inle Lake sights and destinations, which surely include something for everybody. Here is our list of the top 10 things to do at Inle Lake, Myanmar.

10. Check Out the Inle Lake 5 Day Market

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The five day market of Inle Lake are rotating markets where vendors from the small villages and rural areas come to sell their goods. The location changes daily but is always on the lake and some days is only accessible by boat. The schedule is based on the lunar calendar. It can be hard to know where the market will be from day to day, but any local will know if you ask them. Song of Travel hostel has the weekly schedule posted in the lobby with our daily activities. Our organized boat trips feature a trip to the 5 day market.

9.  See Floating Villages

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There are a number of villages built on Inle Lake. The homes are made from wood and are built on stilts high enough to accommodate higher waters during rainy season. There is a boat parked in front of every home and the water roadways almost resemble roads on land with consistent boat traffic. Boating through these villages is a great way to catch a glimpse of local life. Our boat trips include a lunch with a local family in a floating village. This is really a memorable experience.

8. See Long Neck Kayan Women

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The long neck Kayan women are originally from Kayah State, bordering Shan State (where Inle Lake is located) but have migrated to other areas after conflict with the military in the 1980s and 1990s, with the majority of the population currently living in Shan State. One family of Kayan women live in Inn Paw Khon village and work as weavers. They can be seen on some boat trips and are very friendly, speaking surprisingly good English. Ask them why they wear the gold coils around their necks!

7. Get a Traditional Burmese Tattoo

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Traditionally, tattooing in Myanmar was used as a cultural marker. Different tribes and ethnic groups would have unique styles of tattoo. The Shan people believed the tattoos had magical and spiritual meanings, similar to the Thai Sak Yant tattoo, and were used in the same way some cultures use protective charms and amulets. One of the few remaining traditional tattoo artists still has a shop in Nyaungshwe at Inle Lake. The tattoos are given with a bronze needle, sterilized in boiling water between uses. The tattoos are painful, but much quicker than other tattoo methods. You can choose from a book of traditional designs, passed down for generations. A traditional Burmese tattoo at Inle Lake is the ultimate souvenir!

6.  Tofu Village

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That’s right, there is a tofu village, also known as ‘Tofu Palace’. The small village of Khaung Daing is known for its tofu production. The local tofu is made from fermented yellow peas, and is generally loved by vegetarians and meat eaters alike. The village doesn’t only produce tofu, they produce a variety of edible delights to be sold at the local markets. Getting to the village is easy. Take one of our free bikes from Song of Travel Hostel Inle Lake and it’s about an hour ride. You can also get there by boat. Once you arrive you will be greeted by a local who will happily take you on a free tour of the village with samples included. Tipping is appreciated, but there is little pressure to purchase anything.

5. Jumping Cat Monastery (Hga Hpe Kyaung)

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This monastery is well known for its jumping cats. In the past monks would train the cats to jump through hoops during the long hours between scripture recitals. The last generation of jumping cats has mostly moved on leaving behind a generation of sleepy cats. While you may or may not see a jumping cat on your visit, you are sure to see many friendly cats and kittens all around the monastery. It is also the biggest and oldest monastery in the Inle Lake area, built in the 19th century of wood in the local style. It houses an impressive collection of Buddha images and the large mediation hall holds Buddha statues in the Shan, Tibetan, Bagan and Inwa styles.

4.  In Dein, Also Known As Shwe Indein Pagoda

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One of the highlights of any trip to Inle Lake is a visit to In Dein, sometimes referred to as ‘Shan Bagan’. This massive collection of stupas was first built in the 12th century and added upon until the 18th century. In Dein, also spelled Inndein, is part of our organized boat trips and the stupas are just a short climb uphill from the lake. One of the 5 day markets occurs here, bringing locals from many villages as well as tourists. On quiet days your boat driver can sometimes bring you to the foot of the bridge at the entrance to the pagoda. Some of the most instagram worthy spots are located away from the center corridor of the complex. We recommend taking a left from the main path and visiting the stupas toward the south.

3. Inle Lake’s Stunning Sunsets

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One thing that cannot be missed in Inle Lake is the dramatic sunset. Song of Travel Hostel has one of the most spectacular views of the sunset from its rooftop restaurant. As the sun makes its way behind the mountains to the West the sky glows in various shades of reds, pinks and oranges. Enjoy our Happy Hour on the rooftop from 5 to 8 with the best deals on beer and cocktails in town.

2. Wine Tasting at Inle Lake Vineyard and Winery

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Did you know Myanmar is a producer of wine? Some of the country’s best wine comes from the Red Mountain Estates Vineyard & Winery. Though common enough varieties, the grapes grown at the vineyard have distinct flavors. The 8 varieties of Inle Lake wine produced here taste both familiar and unique. The winery offers a wine tasting for 5,000 kyat, allowing you a generous sample of four different varieties. On the west side of the winery you can enjoy dinner and drinks overlooking the sunset. The vineyard is an easy 20 minute bike ride from Song of Travel Hostel and you can take one of our free bicycles anytime. We also organize a free group trip every Wednesday at 4pm.

1. See the Traditional Fishermen

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The highlight for most tourists at Inle Lake seems to be viewing the traditional fishermen on the lake. The iconic image of the fisherman using one leg to paddle and the other to help manage the bamboo nets, has become very well recognized recently. While you will see plenty of actual fisherman out on the lake, the truth is these fisherman are reenacting the traditional method just for tourists. They are professional models and will pose to give you the best shots, but they do expect a tip in return. Please don’t photograph them if you do not intend to tip. The sunrise and sunset tours, organized daily at Song of Travel Hostel, will give you the opportunity to catch the perfect shot of the fisherman and their circular nets framing the sun in the background.

There is so much to see and do at Inle Lake, and certainly something for everyone. This is a list of our guest favorites, but there is still so much more to discover. Come to Song of Travel Hostel where you can look through our local guide books and we can arrange anything you would like to do.


Visit Tofu Village at Inle Lake

If you want an experience off the beaten path at Inle Lake we highly recommend a visit to the Tofu Village. 13 kilometers from the hostel, Tofu Village, also known as Tofu Palace is a great half day excursion from town. It takes 45 minutes to an hour to get there as you bike past rice fields, monasteries, hot springs, and the lovely Innoo Pagodas.

The village, whose real name is Khaung Daing, was originally inhabited by the native Intha people, but is now home to a healthy mix of people including Taungyo, Pa-O, and Danu. It is home to around 300 people whose livelihoods come from different foods made and sold at local markets. It is known for its tofu, made from yellow chickpeas, and very popular in local cuisine.

When you arrive to the village you will be greeted by a village member who will sit you down, pour you green tea and feed you a variety of local snacks. They will tell you about the village and the products they produce based on what grows well in their gardens. You will also learn how this close knit community pools together resources to better the village. Then the free tour begins.

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The tour starts by visiting a family who produces tofu. The entire family is involved in the process, which is more complicated than one might think. Extra steps are taken in the local tofu production which results in a soft, texture, almost creamy in some forms. They produce four varieties of tofu: fried tofu, cubes for curry dishes, tofu crackers, and a “fresh” tofu, mostly used in a local tofu salad. You get to sample them all! Tofu has been produced in this village for over 80 years.

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You are also taken to see families making a variety of other treats. One family makes crunchy crackers that look like fried noodles made from rice flour, corn flour, and chickpea flower. Another makes a traditional candy make from brown sugar harvested from local sugar cane. You can see a family producing cakes made from sticky rice and brown sugar and another producing rice crackers with sesame seeds. You will see a family’s yard full of bamboo mats with pumpkin and sunflower seeds drying in the sun after being roasted with seasonings. Towards the end of your tour you will come across a family who produces “happy water,” a local rice wine that averages about 40% alcohol. Yes, you get to sample it.

When the tour is over you are brought back to the table where you began and poured more tea. New snacks are added to the table, collected from your visits around the village. Then each person is brought a plate of fried tofu and a local sauce made from tomato, cabbage, garlic and a little bit of chili. It’s best to come hungry as you are offered a very generous amount of food.

The tour is free and you are not pushed to purchase anything along the way. In fact, there is no shop. If you want to purchase something from a family directly you may, but you will have to ask the guide to facilitate the transaction. The products tend to cost 500 kyat for a decent sized bag, which is far cheaper than you’d find it in town. While they do not specifically ask for donations, there is an expectation that you will donate something at the end of your tour. Every bit helps. The village of Khaung Daing pools the money together to fund the local school, build roads, and generally improve the conditions for the villagers.

The village is also moving towards being more ecologically sustainable. The Inle Lake ecosystem is very fragile and the locals are trying to protect it. Our guide showed us where they are now planting trees to harvest and replant for firewood, as they previously were deforesting the nearby mountain for firewood, which caused landslides into the lake. Firewood is used in the production of every product we saw in the village, so this initiative is a huge step toward being more environmentally friendly. One shop makes baskets and containers out of old tires. You can also see locals collecting cans and bottles to take to a recycling facility.

Tofu Village on Inle Lake is definitely worth checking out. Depending on the day you may or may not see other tourists. The bike ride to reach Tofu Palace is beautiful, but you can also arrive by boat or tuk-tuk. Just ask our friendly team at Song of Travel Hostel to arrange a ride for you, or for directions if you’re using one of our free bikes.


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Trekking Inle Lake with SOT

Did you just done the trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake but want more? Or, you didn't do the trekking but wish you did? Then you simply shouldn't miss the one day trekking we offer at Song And Travel Hostel! 

Sign up at our front desk one day in advance. The trekking starts at 8:00am after breakfast. Make sure you leave the hostel with stomach full. 

After 30mins walking among local houses and farms, you will reach a dam. From there you will start the climbing. About 40mins you will reach the meditation cave. (We also organize a separate trip to the cave every Sunday afternoon - https://www.songoftravel.com/blog/2018/5/6/sunday-cave-day).

After the cave, the real adventure begins as you will hardly see any tourists or humans :D. Our guide will show you interesting things along the way and some culture facts. Most of the roads are really narrow with cliff next to you. That's where the breathtaking views are at. If you want to take some pics, just tell our guide he will stop. 

There is a resting place by the mountainside where you can sit down for a bit. Depends on the guide, but if you are lucky you might witness a magic - how to make bubbles out of a leaf. 

You will reach the village where you have lunch at around 12:00pm - 1:00pm depends on how fast do you walk. It's your choice of how long you want to rest after lunch. 

After lunch, the road back is mostly downhill. You will have the amazing view of the lake and Nyaung Shwe town along the way.

We also fixed broken water pipe along the way. According to our guide, the pipe goes to the winery (https://www.songoftravel.com/blog/2018/5/16/wednesday-winery)

You will reach the hostel in about 2 hrs. 

Well done!

The total trekking is about 20km. The cost for the trekking depends on how many people that day. Ask our front desk for more information. 

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Get a Traditional Burmese Tattoo at Inle Lake

Apart from the famous lake, Nyaungshwe has a lot more to offer. If you are like me who love to get a tattoo everywhere you visit, you can not miss the traditional tattoo here at Inle Lake. 

I'm sure you know the famous bamboo tattoo at Thailand. Myanmar offers another kind of authentic tattoo done by bronze needles. 

The tattoo shop located in the north of the town Nyaungshwe, not far from the market. You can ask our front desk for the exact location. If you have maps.me, you can easily find the location - "Inle Lake Traditional Tattoos". It's hardly a shop as it's located at the tattoo artist's house which is very similar to any other houses around. Pay attention to the small sign - "Inle Traditional Tattoo"

Once you walk in, the family will welcome you with Shan tea. They will lay the design books out for you before you ask. The design books are all hand-drawn and pass down generation to generation. Note that part of the tattoo (mostly related with Buddha) can only be done on the upper body. If you want a tattoo on your legs/feet, you can communicate with the tattoo artist's daughter. She will show you which ones can be done on the lower body. 

Once you choose your traditional Burmese tattoo design the tattoo artist will bring out the tools - needles, ink, etc. The needle will be sterilized by boiling water. The tattoo artist works really fast. It will be done before you realize. After the tattoo, you will be given a small bottle of coconut oil. Different with other tattoos, you shouldn't put any cream on it but coconut oil. You can go swim or be in the sun after.

Q&A you might have:

1. How much does it cost?

My one-line tattoo costs 20k kyats (4mins). And my friends' tattoos cost 40k kyats (7mins) and 50k kyats (12mins). Depends on the size you want and the time will be spent. It's not the cheapest tattoo you can get in Myanmar but it's more meaningful. 

2. Is it painful?

Yes. It's definitely one of the most painful ways to get a tattoo. But it's bearable. And it's way faster than a machine tattoo and bamboo tattoo.

3. Is it clean?

Yes and no. No to western standard. The artist is not wearing gloves and you will get the tattoo at the floor in the living room.

But it's safe. The needle will be sterilized by boiling water. 

If you have more question, you can either drop us a message or email (SINGINGTRAVEL@GMAIL.COM). Or ask our front desk if you stay with us - https://myallocator.com/booknow/G6Pf0gyVeQCK_p-XWBmrlg

Design and needles

Design and needles

Tools

Tools

Work in Process

Work in Process

Choose a design

Choose a design

Work in progress

Work in progress

Appreciate the art

Appreciate the art

Wednesday Visits to Inle Lake Winery

The Red Mountain Estate vineyard and winery is a popular spot here at Nyangshwe. Different than other wineries, this winery is famous for its stunning sunset view over the mountains. 

The winery located around 4km east of our hostel. It takes about 20 mins on the bike ride.

The winery opens daily. You can go directly to the sunset terrace order by glasses or bottles. If you are not sure what you want, or if you'd like to taste more Myanmar wine, you can pay 5000 kyats per person for a wine tasting. You will have 4 different kinds for wine tasting - 2 white wines and 2 red wines. 

Note that the wine tasting place is facing south which is separate from the sunset terrace. Once you done with tasting, quickly go to the sunset terrace to take a table with good view. It can get busy and crowded from 5:30pm - 6:00pm. My personal suggestion is stick with the right side tables (facing sunset direction) to avoid trees block the view. 

Once the sun is fully set, you should prepare to leave. The road back to town is dark and it is safer to ride while you still have light.

At Song of Travel Hostel, we organize trip a to winery every Wednesday evening. It's perfect if you just arrive in Nyangshwe and don't know anyone. If you can't join the hostel activity on Wednesday, no worries, you can still get there by yourself. We offer free bicycles to our guests. Our staff can point the direction for you. 

Hope to you will join us for the next Sunset Winery activity - https://myallocator.com/booknow/G6Pf0gyVeQCK_p-XWBmrlg 

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Sunrise Boat Trip on Inle Lake

You can't leave Inle Lake without been on a boat tour of the Lake. 

Here at Song of Travel Hostel we organize sunrise and sunset boat trip. We highly recommend the stunning sunrise boat trip.

The trip start at 5:00am at our lobby. So make sure you be here before that. You don't really have to bring anything, but a scarf or longyi is recommended as we do visit a pagoda on the way.

A tuk-tuk will pick you up at 5:00am from our hostel to go to the port. From the port you will go through a long canal to reach the lake at around 5:30am. It's okay if you see the sunlight before reaching the lake. The sun still have to climb up the mountain. You will see the sun at about 6:00am. The "fish men" at the opening of the lake is one of the first things you see. Note that they are actually "models". They wear traditional clothes and pose for you to take pics. You are expected to tip them after (500 kyats - 1000 kyats per person is reasonable price). If you don't want to pay please don't take any pictures). You can still see real fish men during the whole trip but most time they are preparing so are probably not photo friendly. 

Our boats will stop in the middle of the lake for you to have breakfast and watch the sunrise. It can get a little chilly on the lake at this time. We will provide you with blanket. After breakfast, we continue the journey to the five day market. We will pass by floating gardens, tomato farms, etc. You will spend about 40mins at the market. Remember to bargain if you do find something you like to buy. I've purchased 2 silver rings for 3000 kyats each. 

We will go to blacksmith, lotus weaving and tobacco rolling after. At tobacco rolling house you get to taste all different flavor tobaccos. My personal favourite is the banana cigarette. They will explain to you how each tobacco flavor is mixed with the ingredients.

We will head to lunch after at one of the villages. The lunch is included in the total price so there is no extra cost. If you are lucky you get to taste the fresh fish which is from the lake. Depends on the people you are with. You can either have a chill chat after lunch or take a short nap after. The lovely family will also invite you to try the secret to Burmese beauty - Thanaka. What is Thanaka? We explained here - What is Thanaka?

After lunch is workout time. You get to try canoeing in traditional boat. It's harder than you imagined. :)

We continue the journey to the In Dein Pagoda. It is a climb to the top of the hill but totally worth it. 

The last stop of our trip is Maing Thauk where the 1km wooden bridge is located. You can have a cold beer at one of the floating bars. 

You will be back to our hostel at around 4ish. 

The cost for a sunrise boat trip is 16,500 kyats per person. Sign up at our reception.

Below are some pictures from the trip:

What is the Inle Lake Five Day Market?

A very well-known tradition here at Shan State is the Five Day Market.

But, what is Five Day Market?

Back in the old days, there are several kingdoms in Myanmar. Inle Lake belongs to the Shan State. The Shan Sawbwa (leaders) would go village to village and house to house to collect money (or tax). It was quite time consuming. In order to be more efficient, they would gather the people from nearby villages in one town at a certain day. Slowly people started to bring goods and trade while waiting for the Sawbwa to collect tax. 

Even tho today, the Sawbwa was long gone. The tradition remained. :)

Have more questions for the locals? Send us an email or a message. Or just ask any of our staff if you live with us - https://myallocator.com/booknow/G6Pf0gyVeQCK_p-XWBmrlg 

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Sunday Trip to the Inle Lake Cave Temple

Here at Song of Travel, we offer different activities everyday. Today is the Sunday Funday. We went to a cave.

In Myanmar, there are many meditation caves in the countryside. They usually tend to be really long, and at the end it gets narrow. You can find many Buddha statues sitting along the cave. The deeper you go, the thinner the air becomes. 

From our hostel it takes about 45 mins walk to arrive at the nearest meditation cave. Don't worry we always have a lovely staff to go with you. He/she will give you a brief intro of the things you encounter along the way. 

We will leave at 3:30pm from the reception. And be back around 5ish pm. After a cozy shower, it's the perfect time to catch the sunset and enjoy a happy hour drink at our rooftop bar. 

 

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