Morning: Explore the Lake by Boat at Sunrise
Inle Lake is some 200 kilometers long and 10 kilometers in width and is one of the most stunning features of the Shan Plateau. The lake is peppered with unique finds, from local, stilted homes made of bamboo to the many floating gardens spotting its glass surface. The best way to experience Inle Lake is by private boat. Every visitor will enjoy exploring the lake as it has an attraction and sight for every type of traveler. Those who enjoy seeing historical structures should frequent one of the many pagodas found along the lake’s murky coasts. Depending on the boat visitors hire out, there are many stops along this exciting journey, including the Nampan Village, where cigars and cheroots are rolled, Thaung Thut, a village known for its incredible lotus weaving, or the Indein Village, home of the crumbling pagodas.
Afternoon: Cycle to the Caves and visit the Mingalar Market
The Pindaya Caves are located just a bit outside Nyang Shwe and can be reached by bicycle in about 40 minutes. There are plenty of caves in Southeast Asia, but these are certainly in competition for being some of the most unique as they are filled with hundreds of small Buddha relics throughout the dark corridors. Visitors must climb only a handful of steps in order to reach this amazing natural attraction. The caves are quite dark, so be sure to bring a cell phone or flashlight to explore them in their entirety. There is no entrance fee.
Visitors will then cycle to the Mingalar Market, which is a 20-minute bike ride from the Pindaya Caves. It is a vibrant hub of locals selling everything from fish straight from Inle Lake to modern longyis, the traditional wear that is commonly worn all over Myanmar. Visitors enter the market from Yone Gyi Street and are greeted with one too many Burmese handicrafts and home décor items. The start of the market is mostly made up of souvenir-like items when the market then seemingly transforms into a food haven of sorts, as visitors make their way towards the back of this tarp-covered bazaar. Flies flock to the poultry section, which is mostly made up of fish. Whether it is fresh fruit visitors seek or a complete lack of tourists that entices them, this is the market to frequent in Nyaung Shwe.
Evening: Visit Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery
A visit to the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery is the perfect way to end a day exploring the area surrounding Inle Lake. Many visitors steer clear in fear that the glasses will cost an ungodly amount of kyat, as the winery is nestled up between stunning gardens, colorful foliage, and rolling mountains … scenery that would certainly cost a fortune to enjoy anywhere else. That being said, visitors will be pleased to hear they can get a glass of wine for as little as 2,000 kyat, and wine tasting at this otherwise luxurious venue will only set guests back 5,000 kyat. Found in the southern Shan State, this winery has some 400,000 plants on its property, claiming to produce some of the best wine in the country, with plants imported from wine connoisseurs such as Spain and France.