In a nation where gigantic and exquisite pagodas are identified as its cultural treasures, there is a certain unique region gaining traction and popularity during this internet age. The region of Nyaung Shwe, best known as the gateway to Inle Lake, attracts tourists for its scruffy atmosphere and backpacker feel.
The region is also proud of its cultural contribution – the old stupas and pagodas surrounding the beautiful lake scenery, its rich history as part of the ancient Shan kingdom, and the undeniably hospitable and rowdy townsfolk eager to accommodate tourists!
As previously mentioned, the Inle Lake is the crowning glory of the region – known for its serenity, the vast expanse of water is the boon of the tourist industry in Nyaung Shwe. The lake features a floating market of the Ywama people, the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda – home to five ancient golden Buddhas, the floating gardens north of Nampan village, and other enjoyable spots. The modern way of life can be seen in the number of internet cafes, restaurants, food stalls, and bustling markets found all over the place. The Yadana Manaung Pagoda that resembles Shan architecture cannot also be dismissed with its watery counterparts. Above else, the backpacking feel of the region perfectly suits the whole Nyaung Shwe experience!
The nearest domestic airport is the Heho airport, so grab a domestic flight from your arrival at either the Yangon or Mandalay International Airport. You can choose between taxi, pick-up trucks, or buses as your form of transportation from Heho to Nyaung Shwe. Taxis offer the best comfort with the fastest travel time of 45 minutes at a fare of MMK 30,000. Pick-up trucks and buses are less convenient but will allow you to save on travel costs if you’re vacationing on a budget!
Myanmar’s currency is the Kyat (MMK). Numerous banks are scattered in the region wherein you can obtain such currency. ATMs are also available at busy parts of the region. But, if you’re going to Inle Lake, you better stock up in the local currency as the simplistic way of life there dictates that there won’t be any automated money machines available. Nyaung Shwe accommodation services are also satisfyingly convenient – with hotels, resorts, and lodges at the forefront. Prices vary but start normally at a minimum of USD 10 per night at lodges and increases along with the offered comforts. Affordable meals complete with rice and viand start at USD 2.
The Nyaung Shwe atmosphere is generally warm and temperate with an average annual temperature of 21.4 degree Celsius. January leads in terms of the coldest at an average of 16.5 degree Celsius, while April as the hottest at 25 degree Celsius. The best time to visit Nyaung Shwe is during the hot months of April to June.
Exploring Nyaung Shwe can be done in so many ways. There’s the healthy and immersive way of walking. Bikes are also offered for rent to tourists at a range of USD 1 to 3 per day for normal ones and USD 7 to 15 per day for quality mountain ones. E-bikes are also gaining prominence in the area with a cost of USD 5 to 12 per day. Rickshaws and motorcycle taxis can be negotiated at a starting fare of MMK 500 or USD 0.50. Pick-up trucks and buses have cheap fares starting at USD 0.30 or MMK 300 but can be extremely inconvenient. Although you can opt for air-conditioned or VIP buses at slightly more expensive fares of around USD 20. Lastly, motorboats and canoes are the best means to explore Inle Lake. Rates are around USD 1 to 6 for canoes and USD 18 to 20 for motorboats.
The cuisine offered in Nyaung Shwe is multicultural — drawing from Burmese, Shan, and Western influences. Restaurants offering these dishes are also as diverse as the cultures in it – bar themed, western themed, and simple local theme. Meal prices at these establishments start at around USD 5.