While a boat trip is a must-do when visiting Inle Lake, there are also a few things off the water worth exploring. So I took one of the free bikes that the Song of Travel hostel offers and went on a day trip along the northeastern shore. The land is relatively flat and traffic not too bad, which makes the bicycle an excellent means of transport for this tour. However, if you don’t feel like exercising and still want to stay on a budget, shared tuk-tuks regularly leave from Nyaungshwe to Maing Thauk (and further).
Note: To find out more about Inle Lake in general – how to get there, where to stay, what to do, please refer to my full Inle Lake guide.
I started my Inle Lake bike tour by going all the way to Maing Thauk. Since I had already since the teak bridge on my boat tour a few days earlier, I turned off the main road to the left into the mountains for the Forest Monastery. Motorcycle taxi drivers were offering their services at the corner and warning me that the path would get steep, too steep quickly. But since I was not intending to come back into Maing Thauk village but instead wanted to loop via a spring, I declined their services.
Sure enough, I soon struggled, pushed my bike for a bit, and eventually parked it by the turn-off to the spring, continuing up the mountain on foot.
The view from Forest Monastery Pagoda was not as spectacular as I had hoped but the long walk back, through the actual monastery, made up for that. I found a golden rock, a silver and a blue house, and I saw young monks going about their daily lives – some praying, some preparing lunch, some playing.
I picked up my bike where I had left it and continued along a narrow dirt road along fields to the spring.
It had been raining a fair bit in the past days, so I took it very slowly to not slip in the mud opening up between grass and rocks that made up the path.
Eventually, I found the spring which was feeding a pool with crystal-clear turquoise water. Ice-cold as it was, I didn’t dare go for a swim. I hung out for a while and when two young locals appeared, obviously keen on their bath, I moved on.
Soon my Inle Lake bike tour was to become wet anyway: first, it started raining, and then a stream of water was gushing across my path back towards the main road. After debating whether I should turn back, I decided to “live a little” and found a branch to test the depth of the reddish-brown waters. Confident that it was no deeper than my knees I slowly stepped into the stream. It turned out to be two inches above my knees in the middle, but I made it across without drenching myself and my gear.
I had one more stop to make on the way to Nyaung Shwe: the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards & Winery. Red Mountain looks back at a 15-year history and is one of only two wineries in Myanmar (the other one, Aythaya Vineyard, is about 30 km up the road in Taunggyi). Using French and Australian know-how, they produce the full range of wines from white to red to rose and even fortified wines.
Unfortunately, there was no tour of the vineyard available, so I sat down on the terrasse outside the estate’s restaurant and feasted on the lake view and a glass of fresh pear juice.
The whole tour took me about five hours.
Check in with the Song of Travel hostel (or the Nyaungshwe/Inle Lake accommodation of your choice) or check out the tours offered on Get Your Guide. The widget only shows six, but there are many more; however, at time of writing, I didn’t see any bike tours.