Travel to Loikaw, Kayah State Myanmar

posted in: Asia, Myanmar, Travel | 0

After visiting Inle Lake Marc and I continued our journey through Myanmar. Due to our itinerary we almost skipped the small town of Loikaw in the Kayah state. Gladly, we didn’t.


The reason why we almost skipped the town of Loikaw was on the one hand that it was kind of the opposite direction of our next destination, which was Mandalay. On the other hand according to our hotel and a travel agency in Nyaung She (Inle lake) the bus costs about 30’000 kyat (about 20 bucks) In comparison the night bus from Yangon to Inle  costs 16’000 kyat and is about twice as long. Moreover, the information on go-myanmar.com about Loikaw seemed pretty lame despite another pagoda on a hill and some hill tribes. Yet, the appearance on the web can be deceiving. Therefore, we already put off the idea of visiting Loikaw.

Bumby bus ride with the locals to Loikaw
Bumpy bus ride with the locals to Loikaw

As we arrived at the Nyaung Shwe junction, where the buses stop, we were surprised by the information about a small bus for 10’000 kyat. We instantly decided to take it. The bumpy ride with the locals was a delight. Having the size of a common VW bus they fitted 16 passengers in it including a baby. Additionally, there were heaps of boxes, rice sacs and luggage. Once more I experienced the kindness and generosity of the people of Myanmar. Throughout the ride they offered local food, asked questions about our travel and showed deep interest in us. We, in turn, did the same.

Market at the festival of the 65th anniversary of the Kayah state (Loikaw)
Market at the festival of the 65th anniversary of the Kayah state

Before the night fell, we made quick stop at a buddhist shrine, where our driver donated and prayed for our safe journey. I thought he thanked for the successful trip and we would be soon there, but it was not long until I realised that the drive just had begun. The street, better called path, was a 3 meters wide gravel road in the middle with about 2 more meters dirt and dust on each side. The road slithered through the mountain region and every time another vehicle approached the driver broke hard on the middle path just to escape with two wheels into the dust and dirt. It goes without saying, that the bus had no working safety belts.

Yet, there was light at the end of the tunnel, although there are no tunnels in Myanmar as far as I know. The sky was full of stars and even visible even through the tainted windows – just magnificent. Glad to be alive we arrived at 10 pm without accommodation in Loikaw. Another passenger made some calls for us and within 10 minutes we stood in front of our next guesthouse. It is called Nanayar minutes from the centre away and the family who owns it lives and breaths hospitality. Here you have the address:

Nan Ayar Inn

No (112-A). Nat Shin Naung Street

Daw Oo Khu Qt Loikaw

Kayah State, Myanmar

Fair of the 65th anniversary of the Kayah state in Myanmar
Fair of the 65th anniversary of the Kayah state in Myanmar

[…] it was striking to me how different the view on beauty is around the world.

After a quick chat in the lounge in front of the house, they told us that there is a festival celebrating the 65th anniversary of the Kayah state. They dropped us by car at the entrance and it was as if entering another world once more. Not only the food, the stands and the entire festival was unreal, but foremost the locals were totally different to us than in other areas of Myanmar.We did not a see a single tourist. The locals invited us to play games, gave presents and we made heaps of pictures with and for them. We got many compliments and it was striking to me how different the view on beauty is around the world.

Video from the festival of the 65th anniversary of the Kayah state in Loikaw Myanmar:

The next morning we went to see the sunrise at the Taung Kwe Pagoda in Loikaw, which is a 30 minutes walk from the Nanayer Guesthouse. The Pagoda sits on a limestone hill and majestically looks down on the surrounding area. There are several different ways to the top. Some stairs are steeper than others and as we found out on top there is even an elevator. The entrance is free but a small donation is appropriate. Atop of the Pagoda the views were spectacular and we were not the only ones with the idea to see the sunrise. Moreover, there was a staggering amount of people with drones. In total, including me, four. I suppose it is only a matter of time until further restrictions are introduced to Myanmar concerning drones.

What a surprise Asian fish eat rice.

After exploring the surrounding of the Pagoda, we returned to our hostel. On the way there we came across two fisherman who caught some small fish with bamboo rods. As I asked them about the bait, they show me a small bag full of rice. What a surprise Asian fish eat rice. Back in the guesthouse, the traveller mood set in and we enjoyed the lazy day and the time to do just nothing at all.

Locals fishing in Loikaw Myanmar with Rice.
Locals fishing in Loikaw Myanmar with Rice.

Summary of Loikaw

This was one of my highlights so far so my only advice is: go there and experience it yourself. However, keep in mind that we were lucky that this festival took place when we were there, which was a serendipitous happening.

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