Besides taking a boat tour, we also went cycling around Inle Lake. It was fun and interesting to see the villages and how the Burmese live.
After breakfast, we received some rough instructions from the hotel on the routes we could take and we were on our way. Since we decided to take it easy, we decided to take the bike-boat-bike route, which was shorter.
We first headed over the bridge by the jetty in Nyaungshwe and followed the road straight on. There were cars and motorbikes but since they were not going too fast, it was relatively safe for cyclists. Along the way, we cycled past paddy fields and villages of stilted houses. It was the hot and dry season in March and the sky was hazy from farmers burning their fields.
Oh, there were also tractors carrying passengers. A very efficient mode of transportation!
We also saw a young boy sitting on a buffalo heading towards the paddy field.
The road was long, straight and flat. However, there was a steady incline when we got nearer to the mountains where we had to turn left to go to the hot spring. At this junction, I rested to catch my breath while waiting for Elayne to catch up. I saw this cutie that was baaaaa-ing at us but eventually hid under one of the stilt houses.
The road towards the hot spring was even quieter with fewer traffic. There were motorbikes every now and then but cars were rare.
As we continued cycling, we came across 2 families washing laundry whilst their young children were taking their baths in the same river. I jumped off my bike and interacted with them. The kids were waving, saying hi and hello to me.
After bidding the families goodbye, we cycled to the foot of a mountain, near the hot springs. Since we were not interested in the hot spring, we parked our bikes near the well. It was a working well and used by villages who passed by.
At the foot of the mountain we met 2 boys who seemed excited to see us. Even though there was language barrier between us, it was fun trying to communicate with them. They offered us some sweets and even raced us to the top of the mountain where the pagoda sits.
Passing the hot spring, we were accosted with offers to get across the Inle Lake by boat. After checking the prices of a few offers, we settled at 6,000 kyats with one guy (there was one asking for 10,000 kyats!). He then led us to his longtail boat inside the village, loaded our bikes and sent us across the lake.
We had our last opportunity to enjoy our time on the lake.
Since it was already lunch time, we asked the boatman to send us to a place where we could get food. The “restaurant” at Maing Thauk was actually somebody’s house with the balcony designed to allow customers to sit and relax. It was simple but beautiful since it was directly opposite the bridge which looked like a mini version of the U-bein bridge in Mandalay.
After our meal, we were transported across the river on a tiny canoe-like boat to the bridge to collect our bikes. I really have to hand it to the locals for their fantastic balancing and one-leg rowing skills, no matter men or women, young or old!
The bridge was narrow. I tried to cycle on it but almost fell into the water! So…. we decided to push the bikes instead.
There was a sign further down the road after getting off the bridge directing us back towards Nyaungshwe and we turned left to get onto the tarmac road. It was getting hot and there was no shade along this long and windy road. This road had more car traffic compared to the earlier ones but since the road was wide, we had no worries. We cycled pass houses and some plantations, including a sunflower plantation with beautiful blooming sunflowers.
The road eventually led us near to the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards and Winery. However, since we had already visited the vineyard on our first day in Inle Lake, we decided to by-pass it and headed straight back to the hotel. It was getting really warm under the sun!
We started cycling around Inle Lake at about 8am at a very leisure pace with many stops in between and returned to the hotel just before 2.30pm. Since it was the hot season, we were trying to avoid the afternoon sun as far as possible.
Even though we didn’t manage to visit Kaung Daing, the Intha village producing Shan state’s famous tofu, which we had to go past the touts sending tourists across the lake, it was a great 1/2 day cycling trip with beautiful rural sceneries and surprises along the way. Other than the must-do boat tour, I would highly recommend cycling around Inle Lake to check out the quieter side of the town.
Check out other interesting things we did in Inle Lake here!