After a couple of days exploring the temples of Bagan, we flew to Heho, the closest airport to our destination, Inle Lake. When researching Inle, the biggest decision seemed to be “where to stay?” There are dozens of lovely looking resorts around the lake, but did we want one closer to a town to have more dining options, one farther out but closer to the sights we wanted to see, luxury or budget options? In the end, we settled somewhere in the middle.
For us, it’s almost always “all about the view” and in this case, the Inle Resort, fit the bill in that it offered over water bungalows in our price range, with unobstructed views. Take care when researching hotels, as many have very similar sounding names (Inle Resort, Inle Lake View Resort, Villa Inle Resort, etc.), it’s very easy to confuse them.
But first, we had to get there:
On the way to Heho; when was the last time you had paper tickets? And when was the last time they held up a paddle with the flight number on it to get you on the plane?
The plane had seen better days, for sure, but the flight was quick.
Baggage claim at the Heho airport; low tech means never losing your bag!
Getting to the hotel: I contacted the hotel prior to arrival to ask about a transfer from the airport. I was told that their transportation was “all booked” and I’d have to figure it out on my own. In the end we used Santa Maria Travels (with whom we’d booked our air tickets) to book the transport; car from airport to lake, and boat from lakeside to hotel. It was expensive and while interesting to arrive by boat, I would not choose to do it again. What we didn’t know then, was that it’s possible to arrive by car, and it’s faster and less expensive.
In addition, we would not have had to suffer the boat driver who stopped the boat in the middle of the lake before we got to the hotel, cut the engine, and then tried to intimidate us into booking excursions for the next days with him. It took several firm “no thank you, not now, maybe tomorrows” to get him moving again. For the return to the airport, we booked a car and driver with the hotel.
They had the right of way…
In the town of Nyaung Shwe, we had the driver stop at a shop where we purchased some drinks and snacks for the hotel because we knew we’d have limited options there. He then brought us to the boat dock where we got on to our Santa Maria reserved boat.
The Hotel and Room: Because the view is so important to us, we booked a “Royal Villa Lake Front View Room”. I emailed the hotel directly to make sure one of these specific rooms was still available. They said it was. When we arrived and checked in however, we were brought to a room which was not lake front (it was one row back). We went back to reception and asked for another room and fortunately, they were able to accommodate us.
At the time we booked, our rate was $136 per night. In looking at their web site now, I see the room rate has gone up about $30 a night for our time frame (mid July) but I still think it’s a good value. I’m sure it’s more expensive in high season. If you book though booking.com (affiliate link), you can currently save about $20 a night by being a member, and you get free breakfast and free cancellation (we had to pay in advance when we booked through the hotel).
Our bungalow was the third from the right.
During the check in process we were offered a cold drink and a cool towel.
Finally, here we are at our room! I have to say, it was worth the effort. The “room” is more like a small house with over 800 square feet to it. It sits over the lake so fish swim underneath and it’s reached by an over-water walkway.
The living room space and bathroom, below. There are sliding doors to separate the bedroom from the living room, and at night we closed these to keep the A/C in the room and keep it cooler.
Bathroom area below, opposite living room space. There was a huge shower room, two sinks in the middle area and separate toilet room to the right. The room had a closet with a safe box, and a small refrigerator in the wood cabinet in the photo below right. There was wifi, but it was extremely spotty and only seemed to work in the morning.
Bedroom, with giant windows and deck, below. At night, we did use the mosquito netting around the bed because the windows did not have screens and bugs were attracted to the lights inside.
Below, our “snacks” from our stop in town. Oh yes, nothing but the finest blend of “16 single Scotch malts and Myanmar grain whiskies ” for us. Soda water, ice, and Burmese lemons to complete the drinks. Then there were the Russian version of Pringles. Even the fish in the lagoon would not eat them. I did. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Food is always important to us, but in this case, we made an exception when booking the hotel. It would have been nice to have options outside the hotel for places to eat, but here there really aren’t any. We’d heard the food was decent, and the photos on the web site certainly are beautiful, but they aren’t what we experienced. Perhaps it has improved. Dinner choices were a la carte or an expensive buffet served out of chafing dishes. The western options were where they really struggled (seems like a no-brainer, but order the Burmese food whenever possible). Breakfast was a fine buffet with lots of options.