Any Inle Lake visit will include stops at some of the numerous and still largely traditional their special floating gardens and fishing villages.
The gardens and villages are typically visited on a day trip from Nyaung Shwe, which will take in the various handicraft villages as well. Standard day hire for one of the Lake’s motor-powered longtail boats is 18,000-25,000 kyat from dawn to dusk. You can book directly with a boatman at one of the jetties, though you’ll encounter plenty of touts in Nyaung Shwe’s streets. Pilots – most of whom will speak at least minimal English – may offer discounts during quiet periods while if you book hotel with them, it can include a small commission, but there’s more incentive for reliability.
Though serious fishermen may not appreciate the wash or distraction of a boatload of camera-wielding foreigners rocking up to see them, some showmen hang around at the head of the lake, where the channel from Nyaung Shwe township arrives. Think of them as buskers; they’ll do rowing and fishing demonstrations to satisfy your photography needs in exchange for a little cash tossed into a hat handed round at the end, a win-win for everyone.
These guys traditional Intha gear — baggy beige trousers and bamboo hats — and some put on truly awesome demonstrations. The grace and balance of the best ones is just phenomenal and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to describe it as aquatic ballet. Get out early to catch the keen ones before any other boats arrive and the light is good.