Ever Smile, arguably Kalaw’s most popular trekking company has this reminder: The landscape between Kalaw and Inle Lake changes dramatically. It is mostly green and wet during the rainy season, and brown and hot during the dry season.
We completed our 3D2N trek in August, so we can attest to the “lush, wet and green” scenery. We have yet to do the same trek on a different month.
We signed up for this trek because a hike to a summit we liked cost hundreds of dollars, which we couldn’t afford. Check out this list of Southeast Asia’s tallest mountains…
Did we regret this decision? Not at all.
In fact, we’re glad we did the trek. Not only did we see a beautiful side of Myanmar – something you don’t get to see at lot in Southeast Asia – we also gained new friends.
Ever Smile Kalaw to Inle Lake Trek: How Was It?
The Kalaw to Inle Lake trek was mostly a sightseeing activity on foot, featuring the scenic countryside of Myanmar’s Taunggyi District and ending with an exciting boat ride on Inle Lake.
It’s not a cultural immersion per se, but a guide kept us constant company, explaining when necessary some important details about the life and culture in this part of the country.
Here’s our guide explaining about tea.
We trekked from village to village, made our way through muddy footpaths, and shared stories while walking past rice paddies, water buffaloes, and the most beautiful vegetable fields we had ever seen.
Also read: Vibram Five Fingers Trek Ascent Review (Kalaw-Inle Lake Trek)
“It feels like I’m in Ireland,” someone in the group said when on the second day, we were greeted by a breathtaking sight of rolling hills of vegetables.
We have yet to travel to Ireland, but we agree that the fields looked idyllic from afar. We don’t think there’s one like it in Southeast Asia, although Sa Pa’s terraced ride fields elicited almost the same reaction.
Sadly, this image doesn’t give it justice.
During the few times we interacted with the locals, it was all about showcasing their products – like the time when we all sat down to watch a woman weave headscarves, and when at Inle Lake before the trek officially came to an end, we were given a tour of an establishment making jewelry from silver.
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The boat ride on Inle Lake was the most enjoyable part of the trek.
It would’ve been more memorable had we scheduled our Myanmar trip within the dry season when the waters are crystal clear.
We especially loved the floating gardens, which reminded us of a documentary about the “chinampas” of 15th century Mexico (Tenochtitlan).
Of course, we were all looking forward to seeing a leg rower up close. We weren’t disappointed.
The trek ended at Nyaung Shwe. We checked in at the Hotel Emperor – Inle while our newfound friends chose Ostello Bello Nyaung Shwe.
Inle Lake Trekking Price
What’s Ever Smile’s Kalaw to Inle Lake trek price?
For our 3D2N Kalaw to Inle Lake trek, we paid 40,000 kyat for an all-inclusive service. This includes transporting your baggage from Ever Smile’s Kalaw office to your hotel in Inle Lake. We got a refund because we opted to carry our own backpack.
Also read: Pre-Trek Stay: Where to Stay in Kalaw, Myanmar
Poster in Myanmar: How to Be a Better Traveler
We came across this poster (see image below) two times during our Kalaw to Inle Lake trek. It reads “How to Be a Better Traveler,” and it has 12 tips.
It’s important that you read it before the trek because the tips included here are not the generic type. Through these tips, you can understand and respect Burmese culture better.
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Here are the 12 tips.
- Don’t give gifts directly to children. Giving candy, pens, balloons, etc. only leads to a begging mentality. We want our children at school not asking you for presents. If you want to give an appropriate donation ask your guide how this can be arranged.
- Do wear suitable clothing. You are visiting rural communities, not taking a beach holiday. When in villager’s homes or monasteries your shoulders from knees should be covered. Very revealing clothing is never appropriate. [RELATED: Only 7 Things: What to Bring When Hiking Mt. Agung in Bali, Indonesia]
- Don’t litter. Keep your rubbish and dispose of it correctly. Waste management is an issue in rural areas. Set a good example and carry your waste until it can be disposed of correctly.
- Do check you are registered for overnight treks. For your safety and regulation of tourism in the region ask your guide to confirm that you have been formally registered with the Tourism Police before commencing your trek.
- Do respect the family shrine. Every household will have a shrine. Never point your feet at it, never hang clothes above it and never sleep with your feet pointed towards it.
- Don’t disrupt village life. Remember you are a guest. Drunken behaviour is not acceptable.If you are staying overnight keep quiet after 10pm.
- Don’t kiss in public. Excessive dispalys of affection should remain private. Communities, villager’s homes and monasteries are not the places to dmonstrate your fondness for another.
- Do use water wisely. Many regions including our Township suffer from severe water shortages. Little ways that you can help include limit the length of your shower, turn off taps when not in use, tell your hotel that you don’t need new towels or linen each day, wash clothes after not during your overnight trek.
- Do let your guide know if you have a problem or questions. Your guide is here to assist and explain local culture. If you are unsatisfied with your guide’s knowledge, provide constructive feedback to them and their agency. Tourism is a new industry in Myanmar. Help us to improve our services.
- Don’t sit on the pillow. In Myanmar culture the head is the most sacred part of the body.The pillow is where you head rests not your bottom.
- Don’t get close to animals. Buffalo are unpredictable and can have a nasty temper.
- Do enjoy your holiday. Smile, ask questions and immerse yourself in our unique culture.
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