Located in Karen Hills of Kayah state – a remote and least visited area of Myanmar, Loikaw is the capital of Kayah State. The town is mentioned as the home to mountain-top pagodas, mysterious caves, volcanic lakes, especially the distinctive ethnic groups.
Getting to Loikaw.
- By plane: The tourists can take the regular 1-hour flight from Yangon to Loikaw; the route is operated 3 times/week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday by KBZ …
- By bus: It takes over 17 hours by bus from Yangon and 16 hours from Mandalay.
We can also travel overland from the closer destination Inle Lake. It can reach from the southernmost part of Inle lake to Phe Khone by boat (5 hours) then drive to Loikaw by car about 2 hours.
It’s also about 6 hours’ drive among Kalaw and Loikaw.
Getting around Loikaw
The town is small and it’s easy to arrange your own town exploration. What a pity that there is a lack of self-transporting vehicles (bikes/ motorbikes), then you can choose to take a ride by trishaws or cabs. Meanwhile, reserving a guide and their transport is highly recommended for sightseeing in the surrounding natural areas….
A must visit place within town is a series of hilltop pagodas. Beside the Taung Kwe pagoda which can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, you can also take time to Myaka Lup pagoda, Shwe Let War pagoda and Nagayon pagoda. They are the white and gold monuments on the limestone outcrops. Reaching the places, you will experience the stunning, panoramic view from above. The pagodas are also great for the view of sunrise and sunset. Particularly, the top-hill places are described as the fairylands with the twinkling lights, the ideal option for star gaze, and weather watch in the middle of a dark platform.
Trekking to Tribal villages
The soft trekking journey will offer you with a visit at the living museum of authentic tribal cultures. Two days is the shortest time frame to take the tour.
The Kayan, the Kayah, the Kayaw are the three main tribes in the area.
There are various options to visit tribal villages around Loikaw, including Hta Nee La Leh, a farming village. The first eye-catching thing is the traditional costumes, and the distinctive ears. The large earlobes is pierced just a few days after birth, then filled with amber stone, silver, metal… In addition, this is the spot where you can learn the interesting Kayah belief of Buddhism, animist and Nat.
It is suggested that you visit the Kayah traditional weaving factory. As there are many different tribes in the region, the fashions worn is various for you to discover and and buy the produces.
Place of “long-necked” women
Higher into the hills is Pan Pet, the area of five villages where the Kayan or Padaung people lives. It is the international famous place of “long-necked” women. They wear the rings which are made of brass wrapping around the neck to form coils. The women can start wearing rings from 5 years olds then add more rings when they get older. The maximum number of rings is 28, and the rings have become an integral part of their bodies, without them the women will suffer discomfort… The place is great for those who love local hospitality and the cultural experience.
Further down to the southwest Loikaw is the Kayaw village. Almost everyone wear traditional clothing with the leg rings, circular earrings, and elaborate necklaces. Many of them only spoke their own tribal language, and could not understand Burmese. The people are friendly, they welcome you warmly and are willing to tell you the stories of their daily life, custom and culture….
Please be advised that the areas can only be visited with a permit as part of an organized tour; Travelling can be involved at many checkpoints, the travelers need photocopies of passport and visa pages.