Trip To Inle Lake (and Back)


Nov 7, 2017
Last weekend was a 3-day weekend in Myanmar, because National Day fell on Monday 13th November.

So I took myself off to the Inle Lake region, where I stayed for 2 nights in the town of Nyaung Shwe. This trip allowed me to visit several orphanages for an initial assessment, to drop off some teaching supplies at other orphanages, and to do some 'marketing' at the many hotels dotted around the lake.

Since some of these hotels charge several hundred USD per night, it occured to me that I might be able to solicit ongoing financial donations from the rich foreign guests. But I needed to sell this idea to the hotel management, and get permission to put up an information poster in the hotel foyer.

Early on Saturday morning, I followed the familiar route out of Naypyidaw, stopping for a hot coffee when I reached the single-lane road that winds over the hills to the town of Pinlaung, which has been a popular, poppy-growing region.

At the first pass, there had been a recent small landslide, but no problems for my dirt-bike.


This windy road could have been created just for motorbike riders! The hairpin bends as the road sneaks up the hillside invite the rider to race up (and down) the hills. But care needs to be taken, in case a lorry or village bus appears around a blind corner.


There are 2 parallel hill ranges between Naypyidaw and Pinlaung, with the small village of Paunlaung between the 2 ranges, and nestling on the lakes created by the Paunlaung river, which is dammed some 10 Km or so downstream from the village.


After another coffee at Paunlaung, I continued my journey, crossing over a bridge that spans the flooded land.


The road starts to rise up again, as I approach the second hill range. This is a photo of the village primary school, with the previously-mentioned bridge in the background.


After reaching Pinlaung, I turn left and follow the main road northwards, stopping to snap a photo of a very-apt billboard for tea bags!


After a further stop for coffee, I enter the Inle Lake Biosphere region, and start to visit each hotel on my list, one-by-one.

Now I don't know about you, but I'm not greatly impressed with Inle Lake. It tends to piss down with rain, is cold, misty and the water is dirty. This 5-star resort looks somewhat attractive with the rainbow, but I wouldn't pay even 10% of the nightly room rate!


Actually, my 'private' room at Sweet Inn in Nyaung Shwe cost me all of $8 USD per night, even though the hotel is right next to the canal, where watching the river traffic is a great way to pass the hours.


OK, granted that my room had no air-con
... and it had no fan!
... and it had no toilet or bathroom
... and the internet didn't work
... and there was no TV, fridge, wardrobe etc etc
But it had a clean bed, some free bottles of drinking water and ... er .... well that's it :)

As it had been really cold during my ride over the hills, I popped into a ladies underwear shop in Nyaung Shwe to buy some wolly tights, to wear under my jeans. Oh, the laughter that ensued with the shop staff when I sign-languaged my request, with further merriment when I cheekily asked where the fly was, so that I could take a pee in the hills without dropping my tights!

I had time to ride my bike on the village roads that lie on the western side of the lake. This was a very pleasant way to sample traditional Myanmar village life.

Any ideas what's being grown here?


This is a popular crop in this region of south-west Shan State. It's actually Dragon Fruit.

After my time in Nyaung Shwe, I rode back to Naypyidaw. Unfortunately, on this return journey, the cloud level was low, and I ended up riding in cold, drizzly rain which then caused me to develop a heavy cold. I'm resting in Naypyidaw, drinking plenty of whisky!

My next trip will probably be around Kayin New Year, which falls on December 18th and is a public holiday. Also, although I intended to go to Bangkok for the Christmas break, the anally-retentive admin staff at my school insist that I do my visa-run several weeks later in the middle of the term, rather than following commonsense and arranging it during the Christmas break, so as to avoid disrupting my students' lessons. But that being the case, it means that I will have about 12 days holiday at Christmas to plan some bike rides to more far-flung places in Myanmar, (with the proviso that my intended overnight destinations offer a hotel/guesthouse that is licenced to accept foreign guests).


Staff member
Mar 22, 2016
Hi Simon - despite your experience with the weather, the photographs are excellent. I can well imagine the merriment that ensued over the woolly tights purchase, that story will reverberate around the countryside! :)


Nov 7, 2017
Very nice report. I do like your TopBox

In Myanmar, you have to use whatever is available!

I bought the yellow toolbox in the local supermarket and strapped it to my bike carrier. Then I added the smaller box on top to hold wet weather gear and a few tools. It maybe looks sh*t, but it works very well :)