By Michelle Yastremsky
From hot air balloon rides in Bagan to breathtaking pagodas in Yangon, each of Myanmar’s regions offer something extra spectacular to experience. In the Northwest you’ll find the Inle Lake region, home to floating villages, lotus flowers, and Myanmar’s last remaining Burmese cats. Here are eight things you absolutely must do during your time in this region.
Go For a Sunrise Boat Trip
Wake up before the crack of dawn and hop on a boat for a leisurely ride to greet the morning sun. You’ll see fisherman practicing showing off their best form as they spend the day searching for that special catch of the day, which brings us to our next point…
Eat Freshly Caught Fish at the Floating Village
A journey through the floating village is filled with dozens of restaurants boasting their freshly-caught wares. Take a break from your exploration and unwind with some succulent prawns, paired with a delicious tea leaf salad.
See How Lotus Flower Scarves are Made
Before cotton made its way to Myanmar, clothes were made using the delicate lotus flower. Stop by one of the lotus flower workshops and see the workers extract the fibers of the plant and transform them into a colorful dress, scarf, or purse – the perfect vacation souvenir.
Sample Burmese Cigarettes and Cigars
From banana leaf to star anise to fruit juice to mint, Burmese cigarettes and cigars are one-of-a-kind. After some lotus flower retail therapy, stop by a cigarette factory and witness the Burmese women using natural leaves paired with locally-grown and infused tobacco to roll this cultural specialty. You can even sample and buy them if you wish.
Eat Shan Soup - And Lots of it
When in Inle Lake, you’ve found yourself in the famous Shan State! And if there’s one thing you absolutely must do, is sample their local specialty – at least one big bowl!
Shan soup is made extra special by the shan noodles used within it, and has a darker colored broth with a robust flavor; this dish is commonly served for breakfast but can be enjoyed any time of day.
Visit the Ruins at Indein Village
Just a short ride down a river off of Inle Lake's main pathway, the small village of Indein houses a majestic secret: hundreds of spectacular pagodas and pagoda ruins! Take the perfect Myanmar vacation photo in front of these relics and perhaps discover an ancient secret or two along the way.
Play With the Only Burmese Cats in Myanmar
Less than a decade ago, there were no remaining Burmese cats in Myanmar. The Burmese Cat Sanctuary opened with the hopes of bringing this majestic creature back to its homeland. They imported cats from the United States and United Kingdom, and today have over 30 purebred Burmese cats! See the cats eat and play, but avoid visiting during the hours of 12-2pm because it’s the most important time of the day: cat nap time.
Take a Multi-Day Trek From Kalaw
The Kalaw to Inle Lake trek is the most popular in Myanmar – and for good reason! Take a two or three day journey through some of the country’s most charming villages and countryside, stopping at authentic homestays - and maybe a monastery or two - along the way.