With the steady increase of tourism since Myanmar opened its borders in 2012, Inle Lake is facing some environmental challenges. To do your part, enjoy a sustainable holiday to the lake by adhering to these handy hints.
TRAVEL MAKES ONE MODEST, YOU SEE WHAT A TINY PLACE YOU OCCUPY IN THE WORLD. — GUSTAVE FLAUBERT
1. Pay the Inle Lake Environmental Fee. It’s actually quite a common practice in Myanmar for tourists to pay a visitor’s fee, and Inle is no exception. 12,500 kyat ($9) is a small amount to pay to help keep the area clean and safe from environmental threats!
2. Share a Boat. Fewer boats equal less pollution. Plus, you can save some money in the process. Hiring a boat for the day will cost you around 15,000 kyat ($11) depending on how hard you negotiate. Why not share the cost and split the environmental effects as well. Sounds like a win-win to me!
3. Go Vegge. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, try it during your visit to Inle Lake. With plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables on offer, why not indulge. While the fresh fish may be tempting, the overfishing of the area is a big challenge facing Inle.
4. Ask your Boatman to Skip the Long Neck Women. We had a very authentic experience with the Karen Tribe in Thailand, but unfortunately, they are not indigenous to this area. Instead, stop by the weaving factories to watch the women work their magic.
5. Tip the Local Fisherman for Photos. If they earn a wage from photo ops, it means less overfishing of the lake. And let’s face it, you want to have your camera ready for your visit! After all, where else will you see fishermen rowing the boat with their legs and balancing with large nets on their heads!?!
6. Don’t Litter. Be part of the solution; not part of the problem. It seems crazy to think people in today’s world still litter, but clearly, it’s still an issue. If you see a local doing it, gently speak with them and educate them on the benefits of utilizing bins instead of throwing trash on the land or water instead.
7. Refill your water bottles, turn off the lights & electrical plugs when not in use, and take short showers. These no-brainers still apply! Wherever you are, lead by example and follow these practices wherever you go. What’s your best tip for sticking to short showers as truth be told, this is one I still struggle with if I have hot water available.
8. Walk or Hire a Bicycle. Instead of using a motorized taxi or tuk-tuk, use your legs and get some exercise in the process. The area is great to explore on foot or by taking a leisurely cycle around. So take your time, load up on sunscreen and enjoy!
- Friday Inn – Situated in Nyaung Shwe, Friday Inn was undergoing renovations where we visited late 2016. But it was nice when we stayed and can only get better, so go pay the guys a visit!
- Inle Lake Boat Tour – Visit the highlights around the lake including Nga Hpe Chaung (formerly the Jumping Cat Monastery), Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Ywama Floating Market, In Paw Khone Floating Villages, and an array of local handicrafts, including wood carving, hand weaving, silversmith and cigar making.
- Red Hill Winery – Don’t miss one of only two wineries in Myanmar. Try a selection of locally grown wines while taking in a beautiful sunset. Wine tasting 5,000 kyat ($4).
- Red Hill Winery – Whilst enjoying a glass of wine, go ahead and check out the food menu too. Some tasty dishes on offer!
- Pub Asiatico – Great place to drop in for a drink or two. Didn’t try the food, but the menu had a wide variety. Note, opens at 4 pm, so don’t plan on lunch here.
- Sunflower Restaurant – A simple, yet delicious venue. Our top pick in the area! Go try for yourself and let us know what you think!
- Arrange your boat trip ahead of time (a day ahead) for best likelihood of being able to share a boat.
- The winery is a bit out of town, and taxi options there and back are a bit pricey. Hire a bike and take a ride to and from instead…you’ll probably want to burn off the calories from the wine anyways.