Mandalay, Bagan and Inle are three destinations that frequently appear on tourists’ itinerary. There isn’t really a most time-saving way to travel among these three destinations since they are positioned in a triangle. Some tourists will choose to visit in this order: Bagan – Mandalay – Inle. In our case, we wanted to take the boat between Bagan and Mandalay, and it made sense to take the boat downstream instead of upstream, so Inle – Mandalay – Bagan it was for us.
From Inle Lake/Nyauang Shwe to Mandalay
There are buses running between Nyaung Shwe and Mandalay. The bus journeys are relatively shorter than the train ride, but reviews had mentioned about boring routes and very bumpy journeys. It was also part of our plan to experience the various modes of transportation in Myanmar as much as possible. In summary, we spent a day travelling from Nyaung Shwe to Mandalay:
Hopping onto the tuk-tuk at Nyaung Shwe (tuk-tuk in Myanmar is different from those in Thailand. They resembled more like a pick-up truck in Myanmar), we had a chilly and bumpy ride to the nearest train station, Shwe Nyaung (yep, Nyuang Shwe vs Shwe Nyaung. Same same but different!). We requested for a stop over at a convenience store to stock up on water and chips for our long journey. Tuk-tuk from Nyaung Shwe to Shwe Nyaung – US$8 for two.
Shwe Nyaung – Thazi
Train tickets cannot be reserved or bought online. Simply purchase in person on the day of travelling. Knowing that the journey would be long, we purchased the Upper Class seats – fixed bench, non-reclining, padded leatherette. We were invited into the office while our hand written tickets were being issued, and were also personally escorted onto the train. Train tickets from Shwe Nyaung to Thazi – US$7/pax.
It had been a rainy morning the previous 2 days, making it almost impossible to organise any trips out to the lake. Our third day at Inle Lake was, as proclaimed by our boatman, ‘LUCKY DAY!’ =)
With various settlements and villages scattered around the lake, one may research more on the highlights of each village, and request for the boatman to include specific villages in the trip. Our boatman Ko Zaw Lwin had suggested a few places to bring us, visiting in an anti-clockwise manner thus making a full round of the lake. Alas, we had to cut short our trip since CL was feeling quite down from the food-poisoning the night before.
The places we covered in our trip included
Khaungdine village and market
Taung To village and pagoda
We will let the photos do the talking for the beauty of Inle Lake.
We rented the bicycles from Mingalar Inn (US$1.50/day), and embarked on our cycling adventure around the lake. We had been told the first leg is slightly bumpy, and that the entire route is mostly flat. Novice cyclists: BE WARNED! The first leg is VERY bumpy and muddy (if it rained). YM, admittedly not a very seasoned cyclist, was traumatised, and had a couple of falls during the journey. Besides the occasional trucks/pick-ups and SUVs, the roads are mainly shared between motorbikes and bicycles. Continue reading Cycling around Inle Lake→
We stayed at the old wing at Mingalar Inn (they have a newer wing which looks stunning), and it was good and clean enough. The room was quite dim, but this was not a major problem since we were out most of the time. There is a wall fan which is sufficient, since the night temperature can get quite low. Staff service was excellent! They had good command of English so communication was not a problem, and they were always very eager to deliver freshly squeezed lime juice whenever guests return back to the inn. The little garden area was equipped with a swing set, and some wooden benches and tables, perfect setting to wind down after a long day out in the lake. Breakfast was simple and clean, but the items were the same everyday – choice of omelette/scrambled/fried eggs, toast, choice of plain pancakes/banana pancakes. The samosa local snack which they sometimes served as a side was delicious!