Inle Lake is one of the most beautiful places to visit on your Myanmar trip. Yangon to Inle Lake distance is about 650km. Most people would travel from Yangon to Inle Lake or Nyaung Shwe, the town closest to the lake. Unlike earlier times, it is now very easy to reach Inle Lake from Yangon, thanks to so many options available for the travelers. In this travel guide, I’ll share all the ways on how to get to Inle lake from Yangon, including prices and comfort level.
Yangon to Inle Lake By Bus
There are plenty of buses available from Yangon to Nyaung Shwe, the nearest backpacking town to get to Inle Lake. It takes around 9 to 10 hours to reach from Yangon to Nyaung Shwe by bus.
Nyaung Shwe has a pier, which takes you to Inle Lake on boat trips. It is the centre for most travelers who prefer budget accommodations and a good number of places for food. You can also rent a motorbike or cycles here to get around Inle Lake.
There are different types of buses to reach Inle Lake – minivans, regular buses and VIP buses. Both regular and VIP buses are air-conditioned, have reclining seats and are comfortable. You’ll get blankets, drinking water and some snacks. The VIP buses have 2+1 layout though, and have extra leg space and are better. The price difference between the two is not much, so I would highly recommend you to book VIP buses while traveling in Myanmar if buses are your choice.
Buses to Inle Lake depart from Aung Mingalar bus station in Yangon, and you will arrive at Nyaung Shwe town. The buses drop you to your hostel/hotel.
At the entry of the town, foreigners need to pay 15,000 Kyat as an entry fee for Inle Lake. Keep this ticket with you at all times while exploring the lake.
There are buses during the day that usually leave early in the morning around 6 or 7 AM as well as buses in the night.
Some tips to know before taking Yangon to Inle Lake Bus
- The JJ express VIP buses sell out very soon because of their popularity, especially during the peak season. I couldn’t get any as tried at the last minute and had to take a minivan to Inle Lake, which was an uncomfortable trip at night. Hence it is better to book a few days in advance.
- Taking the JJ Express Yangon to Inle Lake night bus is a great way to save your money on a hotel for the night. Also, you’ll reach early in the morning around 4:30 AM or 5 AM. This means you can keep your bags at the hotel upon arrival and go on a boat tour to witness an amazing sunrise at Inle Lake.
- Reach Aung Mingalar Bus Station at least 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled departure. The bus station is quite huge and it takes time to find out where your bus would come.
- The traffic jam in Yangon is too bad, and if you take a public bus to reach the bus station, it takes a lot of time. Local cabs reach faster but are expensive. Either way, it is best to leave early to not miss the bus.
- The entry ticket of 15,000 Kyat needs to be paid in cash. So make sure to carry enough money with you. Otherwise, you will end up searching for ATMs(which are only a few) in the early morning hours.
- You can book your buses through your hotel or you can even book online through 12Go Asia, where you can also compare the buses, check reviews and prices. The cost is around 7 to 25 USD per person.
Editor’s note: How To Get From Yangon To Mandalay in Myanmar?
Yangon to Inle Lake By Flight
If budget is not your constraint or your time is, then you can take Yangon to Inle Lake flight. The nearest airport to Inle Lake or Nyaung Shwe is Heho airport, which is about 50km away.
It takes an hour to reach Inle Lake from Yangon by flight and costs around 130 USD per person. You can get better deals if you are booking in advance or flying during the offseason, but it is still the most expensive way to get to Inle Lake.
Here are some of the airlines that make a trip from Yangon to Heho – Myanmar National Airlines, Yangon Airways, Air KBZ and Asian Wings Airways. There are flights from Mandalay and Bagan to Inle Lake as well.
If you are flying from Yangon to Bagan, make sure to reach Yangon airport early, as it is far away and the traffic in Yangon is bad.
It takes about an hour to reach Nyaung Shwe or Inle Lake from the airport. Taxis are available outside, but they can be slightly expensive. Haggle a bit for prices, which is not uncommon in Myanmar.
Editor’s note: How To Get From Yangon To Bagan in Myanmar?
The slowest, longest and hence the least preferred way to reach Inle Lake is by train. It takes around 25+ hours and can take more if there are delays. Experience a train journey in Myanmar is on the bucket list of many travelers, but this one is too long for that. If you don’t mind spending more than a day or the exhaustion, you will probably love this.
The nearest railway station to Inle Lake is Shwe Nyaung station. There is no direct train from Yangon to Shwe Nyaung.
You will have to first take a train from Yangon to Thazi, which is an overnight train leaving from Yangon central station at 5 PM. It arrives at Thazi at around 5 AM. The best way to have a comfortable 12-hours journey is to book a seat in the upper-class cabin, which costs about 10,000 Kyat. The seats partially recline and are way better than ordinary seats. It is still exhausting for a long journey though.
The train from Thazi to Shwe Nyaung arrives at Thazi station at around 7 AM and reaches Shwe Nyaung at 5 PM the same day. Buy the tickets at Thazi station by paying 3000 Kyats for an upper-class seat. During this 10-hour day journey, you’ll pass through some winding hills, rice fields and green landscapes, which is probably the only upside of traveling by train to Inle Lake.
Once you arrive at the station, you will have to pay Inle Lake entry fee for foreigners, which is 15,000 Kyat.
Beware of many scammers on the train or who approach you claiming that they collect money for the entry tickets. Only buy these tickets at the toll collection counter at the station.
Inle Lake is about 5km from Shwe Nyaung train station. You can take a tuk-tuk or a cab to get to Nyaung Shwe or Inle from the railway station.
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