If you are lucky enough to be traveling to Myanmar, you have to make sure you go to Inle Lake. It is a magical and relaxing place. If you are up for an adventure, the trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake is a special and unique experience you seldom get to have while traveling.
Hiking through the backcountry of Myanmar, you get to interact with the local village people and see how they actually live.
It is a beautiful and humbling experience to see how happy they all are and how little they have. Walking through the undeveloped landscape, with no roads or cars will take you back in time. You will only see the locals working the farms with their water buffalo.
This was the highlight of my whole trip to Myanmar. You are able to choose between a 3 day/2 night tour or a 2 day/1night tour. I opted for the 2-day tour since I was running out of time and thought it would be plenty of time to get the true experience of the trek, which it was.
The hike starts from a small town called Kalaw and ends up in Inle Lake. Depending on which tour you choose you will walk between 36 – 56 km, which is a good amount if you’re not used to daily exercise.
Before you start the trek, be sure to arrive in Kalaw at least one day before, to give yourself enough time to relax and unwind.
Things To Do In Kalaw Before The Trek
The most popular way to do the trek is to start in the town of Kalaw. I’ve heard of people doing it the other way, but not many. When starting in Kalaw most of the trek is downhill. On the last day of the tour when you are tired from walking you’re welcomed into a beautiful valley overlooking the stunning lake of Inle.
Kalaw is a small, but lovely town. It is the perfect place to rest up before the trek to Inle. It is also easy to access by bus from either Bagan or Yangon. Most hikers will only stop in Kalaw for one or two nights, but while you are in Kalaw you should:
What To Expect Trekking To Inle Lake
I happened to be in Myanmar during the rainy season, and it happened to be the worst rainy season they have had in years. My trek to Inle Lake was wet and muddy, but 100% worth it. If you are lucky enough to go in the dry season, then you don’t have to worry about the mud or the rain, just the heat. The hike was very slow and mostly flat.
Besides constantly stopping to take photos, we would stop for a proper break about every hour. We would sit down to rest, drink water and just enjoy the clean air and the beautiful greenery around us. Occasionally, our breaks would lead us to a local pit-stop where we could order a coffee or snacks.
We also stopped for 2-hour lunches where we were fed at local homestays. We were cooked local meals by the villagers. It was a great way to see and experience how the Burmese people live in the countryside in the Shan region of Myanmar. The food was tasty and there was always more than enough, although after a couple of days I was tired of eating rice.
- Rainy Season (June – October)
- Cool Season (October – February)
- Hot Season ( February – June)
Difficulty Level Of Trekking To Inle Lake
The trek was pretty flat and there were never any steep inclines that we had to worry about. Our group moved fairly slow, and they made sure to always have one guide in the front and another guide in the back. If we got too spread out, we would stop to let everyone catch up.
The hardest part for me must have been the mud. There was so much rain that the mud was pretty bad in some places, and it was near impossible to stay clean. The mud would also accumulate on the bottom your shoes making it difficult to keep any traction as you walked, as a result the trek was very slippery.
Over-all it was a fairly easy walk. With only a couple of days of walking, you don’t have to carry a ton of gear and you are able to fill up with fresh drinking water along the way or buy more at the homestays. Most of the trekking companies will ship the rest of your luggage to your following hostel or hotel in Inle Lake, so you only need to take the bare essentials with you.
Where Do You Stay Along The Trek
Depending on what tour company you use and which tour you choose will depend on where you stay. But the part of the enjoyment of the trek is getting a feel for how the local village people live.
When I did the tour we stayed in the local room with no electricity or hot water. It was clean and quiet. We all stayed in the same room, much like how the Burmese people would sleep.
We were cooked hot meals at every accommodation. The homestays would also have beers, water, sodas, and snacks available to purchase. To be honest, after a long day of trekking over 25 km, an ice cold beer was exactly what you wanted.
Above is our shower and our sleeping arrangements for the night. The shower was a bucket that you would dump on you to wash and rinse. We all slept in a large room with clean bedding.
There was no electricity, so nowhere to charge your phone or any other devices. The bathroom was also just an outhouse with a hole in the ground which are very common all throughout Myanmar.
Where To Book
I highly recommend booking with eversmile. It is the best tour company around and also the cheapest. A two-day tour is $20 where the three-day tour was $25. It’s so cheap that you actually save money while you do the trek because it is cheaper than staying in town somewhere.
You can book by following the link below.
The Inle Lake trek was the highlight of my trip and I highly recommend it to anyone planning a trip to Myanmar. If you are coming from Yangon or plan on visiting during your trip to Myanmar, be sure to check out What Foods to Eat in Yangon!