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An Inle Lake boat tripThere really is no other way to get around than by boat. Both of the Secret Retreats Inle Lake luxury hotels take check-ins by boat and once you are over the initial nervousness of boarding these narrow watercraft, essentially large wooden canoes, it really is a very relaxing experience. Whether being rowed around an Inthar village admiring the floating gardens and unique architecture, or taking longer trips on the motorized canoes, an Inle Lake boat trip is a very pleasant way to get around. The Inthar’s life is lived on the lake, their workshops, their gardens and farms, their worship, it all happens over the lake’s surface. A visit to a boat builder is a must, synonymous with lake life these craft are unchanged for centuries and are all hand built at workshops on the lake. Artisans of many crafts call Inle Lake home but none more unique than the lotus weavers. Making an incredibly soft and fine fabric, the weavers extract the lotus silk from within the lotus stem, a task that requires a lot of patience as these very fine fibres from within the lotus have to be built up and rolled together to form a single thread - it typically takes up to 2 months to collect just 1kg of fibre ready to make the thread. Silversmiths also have their workshops on the lake, making silverware and jewelry in traditional designs, very fine and intricate work and all hand made.
There are many holy sites, pagodas and monasteries on and around Inle Lake. Phaung Daw U Pagoda is perhaps the most revered site on the lake, containing the 5 gilded Buddhas, these images have been revered for so long that the application of gold leaf from devotees over the years has built up into what appears to be almost football sized balls of gold. The village of Indein on the banks of Inle Lake offers an almost Bagan like view with more than 1,600 stupas dating back to the time of King Ashoka, over 2,000years ago, the stupas vary in style and condition creating an enigmatic scene and a wonderful spot for sunset photography. And don’t miss the Nga Hpe Kyuang Monastery, set over the lake this ancient wooden monastery has an incredible prayer hall, filled with ancient Buddha images, a timeless scene that inspires calm. We’ve barely touched the surface with this overview but the Secret Retreats concierge is ready to assist you with planning your Inle Lake boat trip to ensure you see and experience the best of Inle Lake.
Secret Retreats’s recommended Inle lake HotelsArriving at Heho airport it is a short and scenic 1hr drive to the entrance to Inle Lake at Nyaung Shwe town where you can board your boat to take you to the Inle Princess Resort or the Inle Heritage Hotel. Both of the Secret Retreats Inle Lake hotels are set on the lake, with the Inle Heritage Hotel literally built in the middle of the lake set on stilts and Inle Princess Hotel set on the banks of the lake with uninterrupted views of the Shan Hills across the lotus flower decorated lake. A stay at the rural town of Pindaya before heading to Inle Lake is highly recommended. This busy little country town is famed for it’s cave of 1,000 Buddhas, a holy shrine that dates back centuries where devotees of Buddhism have donated and set Buddha images within the Pindaya limestone caves. Pindaya Farm House is the Secret Retreats selected Pindaya hotel. A family owned and run farm house offering a delightful homestay style boutique inn. The picturesque views from the restaurant across the fields and rolling hills make it all too easy to sit in this peaceful spot all day but there is lots to see and do around Pindaya, guided by the family or simply enjoying some of the country walks, maps provided, of the local area. Back to the restaurant for a well earned dinner and the home style cooking, straight from the garden, of traditional Shan and Myanmar dishes is not to be missed, really excellent homely dining at Pindaya Farm House.
Of all the Inle Lake hotels, Inle Princess Resort offers a truly local experience but with all the luxury and attention to detail expected from a top Inle Lake boutique hotel. Set within garden, this Inle hotel also supports local artisans and traditional craftsmen giving over part of the hotel’s grounds to a dedicated artisan’s village where wood carvers, weavers and potters work their craft and are also open to visitors joining them and trying their hand at making a pot or learning to weave. In keeping with Secret Retreats’s philosophy of working closely with the community and promoting responsible tourism both Inle Princess Resort and Inle Heritage Hotel support the local community on many levels. Inle Princess, aside from supporting local craftsmen, the hotel also provides a junior school, while offering quality education for infants and juniors the school, built from bamboo, also promotes eco-architecture with its unique construction almost entirely from locally sourced natural materials. Inle Heritage is a non-profit foundation, providing a school to train young adults from Inle’s community as hospitality professionals and also supporting the protection of Inle’s unique ecosystem and the reintroduction of the Burmese cat. So you can be sure with every dollar spent at these two Inle lake luxury hotels you will be assured of a luxurious stay with a true sense of place while supporting the local Inle community and contributing towards protecting the environment for generations to come.
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