Inle Lake is often cited as one of South-East Asia’s finest trekking regions, and one of our favourite routes takes in a variety of diverse terrains, including tall forests and cultivated farmland, over a relatively gentle 24km path. Developed in partnership with the CIT (Community Involved Tourism) group, this trekking tour has sustainable travel at its heart. This inspiring project brings a source of income to isolated Pa-O communities, creating employment opportunities and helping to promote and preserve traditional ways of life.
Start out early with a long-tailed boat trip across the lake to Magyigone Village on the eastern shore, to begin your trek. Your specialist guide, who will have lived or worked within the Pa-O community, brings the route to life by adding their personal perspective to the experience. Hike through rural countryside, shady bamboo glades, and farming villages, glimpsing the dedicated bustle of village life as you pass. Some sections take you over steep and challenging ground, but there are plenty of opportunities to rest and soak up the views along the way.
Once you reach the Pa-O village of Hti Ne, you’ll be ready to tuck into a hearty traditional meal as you chat with your local hosts (with your guide on hand to act as interpreter), before descending back towards Inle Lake via the villages of Pa-O, Shan, Yeacho and Nampan – another stunning route. Hop back into the boat to enjoy a leisurely cruise back over the water.
If you enjoy hiking in short, one-day bursts, there are plenty of other routes that bring you back to your hotel in time for a well-earned sundowner.
Start at Thaleoo on the eastern shore for a 4-5 hour amble, predominantly downhill, through fertile rice fields and along a narrow creek, to Naunglay where you can see beautiful baskets being woven. Carry on to Konechan monastery for magnificent views over Inle lake, before eating a traditional Pa-O lunch in Alemyaung and relaxing on the boat back across the water.
Alternatively, begin at Minetauk Bridge for a gentle 5.5 hour walk to Dalapin village, pausing en route to learn about the region’s reforestation programs and to observe serene meditation at a monastery. Lunch in Dalapin with a view over the lake, then head back via Intha village to learn about locally produced sugar cane.
For a more challenging one-day experience, take a horse and cart ride to Loikhaw, around 6 km from Nyaung Shwe, and begin a 7-8 hour trek through Pon Tae and Palawat villages to Minetauk, where you can take in the views from the bridge before returning across the water.
Keen to head a little further afield? The option of an overnight stay broadens the trekking possibilities, allowing you to break up the journey with a night in one of the few, recently-licensed community homestays in Myanmar. The specially-constructed community houses are part of the CIT initiative mentioned above, and provide simple, comfortable accommodation for visitors to the villages. Along with cosy sleeping quarters, the tiny clusters of buildings include bathroom facilities (though the showers are likely to be cold water!), and communal dining areas, often with pretty fantastic hillside views.
From Minetauk, you can head along a winding path through the rough vegetation to the tiny village of Pawlapat for a traditional lunch overlooking fields of avocados, turmeric, oranges or tea, before hiking to Inne where you’ll spend the night. Start out early the following day to stop at the nearby ancient stupas en route to Nuanglay, where you can discover the local craft of paper making, and spot some of the many bird species that roost in the forest.
Routes from Nyaung Shwe take you out towards Loikhaw, via the Pawlapat plantations, the Lwe Kyan caves or Naunglay’s industrious basket weavers, culminating in a community overnight stay. Most of these treks take a fairly gentle pace, walking for 4-6 hours each day over mostly flat or downhill terrain, and (as there’s no rush to get the whole route done in a day) there’s plenty of time to slow down and take in your surroundings.
If you’re up for a more intrepid experience of Myanmar’s Great Outdoors, then a 3-day trekking tour takes you out of the usual holiday comfort zone and fully immerses you in the local landscape and culture. With three days to play with, the region is your proverbial oyster, but there are several tried and tested routes that are a good place to start.
Begin in Nyaung Shwe and hike up through the cool hillside air to the villages of Loikhaw, Naungdel and Inne to spend time in traditional communities, chatting and eating with the locals. After a peaceful night at Inne, you’ll get a taste of community life as you meditate together, learn a few words in the regional dialect, and participate in a cultural exchange of songs and stories. Wake in Inne and say a fond farewell to your hosts, before trekking back down through the rice fields of Thepyaygone, past the basket weaving at Naunglay and ancient stupas on the hillside, to the lake.
These routes give you just a taste of what to expect from an Inle Lake hike, which all offer rural serenity, traditional culture, hillside farming life on long routes that enliven body and soul. Give one of our Myanmar Specialists a call (+44 (0) 1273 670 001 or get in touch to learn more about hiking in this spectacular region.