KAYAH STATE, LOIKAW AND VILLAGES
Loikaw is the capital of Kayah State at the Southeast of Inle Lake between the Shan State in the North, the Kayin State in the South and Thailand at the East. An extension to Loikaw and surrounding villages is a highly recommended experience to discover the variety of landscapes in this region and interact with local minorities. There are direct flights from Yangon. Coming from Heho is another option, and to reach Loikaw takes about 6 hours with a few stops on the way for short visits in villages; the road is narrow but in overall rather good condition similar as to a mountain road. The scenery along the road is beautiful, green and hilly, crossing the Pa -O territories, a minority to be recognized with Pa-O ladies headdress by a bright orange color shawl. The fields are essentially paddies and corn fields, with vegetable gardens around local houses. Before to reach Loikaw, you will notice a huge reservoir to connect Inle and Sagar Lakes; Pekone reservoir was created in 1963 to produce hydroelectricity and provide to the country electricity.
Two full days in the region will allow you to discover villages and busy local life mostly focus on agricultural activities. Among the different ethnical groups to live in the region, you might meet with Palaung people and famous long neck women to wear superimposed rings; this tradition still continues nowadays among the younger generation… Most of Kayah people are either Buddhist or Christian converted by Italian missionaries in the nineteenth century. Many of them are also animists; the belief continues today among some residents; you will see at pillars in some villages erected to honor elements as the sky or the sun; the offering ceremonies take place during the Burmese New Year.
Loikaw is well known for a site named Thaung Gwe pagoda, where two temples are erected on a rock cleft in the middle overlooking Loikaw from where you can observe the panoramic view on the countryside. Another visit to be recommended is a beautiful wooden building, originally Loikaw city hall, converted in a monastery and totally renovated. On the last day and if you plan to reach Inle lake, the return is mainly by water from Pekone reservoir then through Sagar lake and Inle lake. The trip takes about 5 hours by boat; the scenery is gorgeous with mountains surrounding the lakes until you reach Inle Lake or Nyaung Shwe in the evening. An excursion to Kayah State is a trip out off the beaten paths with beautiful sceneries and local life to discover, away from the tourists flow. It is an original experience not to miss if time allows you some extra days to explore this part of Myanmar during your journey.