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.
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.
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.
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.