How To Get From Mandalay to Inle Lake Myanmar – 2019

Traveling from Mandalay to Inle Lake or the other way from Inle Lake to Mandalay? You’ll have a few options all of which are time-consuming.  No matter what route you take the road from Mandalay to Inle Lake will go through mountains and there are tons of turns.

When planning out your Myanmar itinerary we suggest spending at least 3 days in Inle Lake as it will take one full day to travel to Inle Lake.


How To Get From Mandalay to Inle Lake

Ubien bridge at sunrise - how to get from Mandalay to Inle Lake Myanmar

We personally traveled from Inle Lake to Mandalay in and considered all of the following options. The cheapest option is the bus, click here to check rates and book online.

Bus From Mandalay to Inle Lake

Night buses and day buses to Inle Lake run every day of the week. The only proper full-size buses run at night, which means you will be arriving into Inle Lake at 3:30am-5:30 am. The only day buses are minivan shuttles where you will be crammed in there like sardines.

The buses drop off right in the main town of Nyaung Shwe where there are tons of hotels and taxis within walking distance. If you are staying at a higher end hotel, it will most likely be outside of Nyaung Shwe and you’ll have to take a taxi or a local truck similar to a collective taxi.

Call our recommended Inle Lake taxi driver 0949300255 – He was reasonably priced and came to get us as soon as we called.

Related Article: Myanmar Travel Tips

Taxi From Mandalay to Inle Lake

You can hire a private driver to take you to/from Inle Lake and you’ll be on your own time schedule. You’ll have the freedom to stop along the way and take photos as you drive through the mountains.

  • Cost: 130,000k ($100 USD) after negotiations
  • Time: 6-7 hours
  • Distance:  227 km to Mandalay Airport from Nyaungshwe

We contacted the driver Koh Fatty who we hired to explore all the things to do in Mandalay earlier in our trip. He wasn’t available, but he arranged to for another driver to take us from Inle Lake to Mandalay Airport. Our driver was Mr. Shay drove from Mandalay the night before and spent the night in an Inle Lake guesthouse to ensure he wasn’t late.

He was at our hotel at 8 am to take us to the Mandalay airport from our Inle Lake hotel. I would highly recommend either of these two drivers. Koh Fatty and Mr. Shay are available to bring you all around Myanmar or for a Mandalay guide, just contact them for rates:

Ko Fatty Mandalay Private Driver

We opted to take a private taxi for several reasons. Our Inle Lake hotel Amata Garden Resort was a $25 USD taxi ride to the Nyaungshwe bus station and the bus would then drop us off at the Mandalay bus station where we would have to take another taxi to the Mandalay airport $10-20 more.

It wasn’t that much more for us to hire a driver than if we would have paid for those two taxis and the bus ride, plus private taxis are so much better than buses.

Flights From Mandalay to Inle Lake

It is now possible to fly to Inle Lake from Mandalay. The nearest airport to Inle Lake is the Heho airport (HEH), which is 46 kilometers from Nyaung Shwe. Taxis from the airport to Inle Lake take 45 minutes and cost 20,000k + depending on your negotiating skills.

There are several airlines offering daily flights but Golden Myanmar Airlines has a direct flight every morning.

  • Cost: $65+
  • Duration: 30 minutes

Flying is the fastest and easiest way to travel to Inle Lake. If you are on a tight schedule in Myanmar I would fly rather than spending a whole day in the car. If you’re on a Myanmar honeymoon we highly suggest flying because there is nothing romantic about buses & trains in Myanmar.


Recommended Inle Lake Hotels

There is accommodation for every budget in Inle Lake with the higher end hotels located right on the lake. Staying at a hotel located outside of Nyaung Shwe has its ups and downs.

You’ll have to take a taxi into Nyaung Shwe for more dinner and nightlife options HOWEVER you will have gorgeous views of the lake. We choose to stay on the lake, our hotel was a 40-minute drive to town and cost 20,000k each way.

Recommended Inle Lake Restaurants

Inle Lake has a wide range of restaurant options. We only had 3 meals in Inle Lake and one restaurant was so good we went back again. We highly recommend

  • Innle Hut Indian Food House #3 restaurant on TripAdvisor the best Indian food we have ever had. Get the chicken tikka masala, butter chicken, and garlic naan.
  • One Owl Grill serves real coffee and breakfast all day. We had their soup, hummus, and fries all were tasty.
  • Pub Asiatico Inle has a great rooftop bar with 2,000k happy hour cocktails. The inside restaurant looks straight out of a magazine.

Related Article: How to get from Inle Lake to Bagan


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8 thoughts on “How To Get From Mandalay to Inle Lake Myanmar – 2019”

  1. All my queries have been answered by this blog. Thank you so much.

    I hope those taxi drivers’ numbers are still active. I still have a concern though, I’ll be doing a 3-day trip there – 1 day for Bagan, 1 day for Mandalay and 1 day for Inle lake. Do you think it’s possible with the destinations’ proximity? Hope to hear your thoughts. Thank you in advance.

  2. Hello, thanks for sharing. I’ll be going from Inle Lake to Mandalay in a couple of weeks. I’m considering hiring a taxi instead of opting for a flight. Sometimes I do it just for fun – it makes one appreciate the country more. In hindsight, is it worth it in your opinion? I mean things like scenery, interesting places, photographic opportunities etc. Also, do you feel the balloon flight over Bagan is a must-go? Hot air ballooning is something I did in the past therefore it’s the views that I’m after, not the actual experience of flying in a balloon. Thank you 🙂

    • We hired a taxi (private driver) to take us from Inle Lake to Mandalay and the price wasn’t bad. Our recommended driver details are in the post. I think it’s work it because then you can go at your pace, stop when you want to stop, etc.

      We did a hot air balloon over Bagan and a hot air balloon in Inle Lake. Both are amazing and see different things. In Bagan, I was hoping we would get closer to the temples, but apparently, the rules just changed on how close the balloons can get. In Inle Lake, our ride was over 2 hours long and we were 10,000 feet up. Both are amazing and hope you can get on at least one of them.

  3. This post is very informative. I’m doing a 7 day boat trip from Mandalay to Pagan March 2018. I’m hoping to go to the lake, but have to work out the logistics, as I’m flying on to Osaka from Mandalay. I’ll be doing a 2 week tour there before flying back to U.K. I’m not young!!!!!!!!! & wonder if it’s worth going to the Lake? My daughter loved it. What do you think? Travelling alone doesn’t bother me. I will also have 3 days in Yangon. Sue.

    • The lake is nice and peaceful, and if you have time should be included in your Myanmar Itinerary. However, if I had to choose between Inle and Bagan I would choose Bagan. We did not make it to Yangon, so I can’t say there. We enjoyed the hot air balloon we did over the lake, the traditional fishermen were cool to see, the villages of the lake are starting to become popular with tourists, but still interesting to see. I would leave at least 3 days if not 4 or 5 to see Bagan properly, so if you have time do it, if not Inle was cool, but not our favorite stop in Myanmar.

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