Loikaw is a beautiful and quiet city, the capital of Kayah State in Myanmar. I’ve spent here one week and it totally worthed! I enjoyed the nature around the city, the villages and the people welcoming me and smiling to me.
I’ve arrived in Loikaw from Yangon by a night bus, after a long trip of 13 hours (the roads are not so good in Myanmar). From the citadel and crowded life of Yangon, I ended up in a calm city where the time has another rhythm and people are more connected with each other.
1. Exploring the Kayan villages. I would say that the best experience that I had in Loikaw is about visiting PanPet villages. The Kayan tribe is a sub-group of Karenni people, “the long-neck tribes”. The Kayan tribes are in big numbers in two states of Myanmar, Shan, and Kayah, (currently I’m in Kayah) but they are spread in Thailand and Vietnam too. I was lucky enough to visit these Kayan villages with a local by motorbike so I didn’t take a tour. I’ve learned about their traditions and clothes. I’ve seen their houses and I tasted their traditional food. They taught me how to say “Thank you” in Kayan language “Tareiba” but it’s only a spoken language so I’m not sure if I’ve written well.
2. Enjoying the power of nature at Htee Sel Khar waterfall. I’ve spent an amazing half of the day at this waterfall, enjoying the noisy silence of nature. Htee Sel Khar waterfall is located around 45 minutes driving north of Loikaw, being well known through locals, all the people that I’ve met in the city recommended me proudly to go there.
3. Watching the sunset from Taung Kwe Pagoda. The centerpiece of Loikaw is the Taung Kwe Pagoda, which comprises a number of white and gold monuments sitting on top of limestone outcrops which jut dramatically from the surrounding plains. I’ve asked the locals where I could have a beautiful view of the sunset and they sent me up to this pagoda. It was an amazing experience, the beautiful red sun is hiding slowly behind the Karen Hill, covering with a warm light the fields around the city. Watching the sunset up there is a unique experience.
4. One day hiking on the highest mountain in Kayah State. If you’re an active person and you love spending time into nature like me, I recommend you to hike the Nattaung mountain, the highest one of the Karen Hills. It is located in the border area between Kayin State and Kayah State, 72 km to the west from the border with Thailand. With a height of 2,623 m and a prominence of 1,726 m, Nattaung is a good challenge to climb it in one day. I did the hike up in almost two hours and less than one and a half coming down. The view is amazing up there, you can see the villages around and the other hills.
5. Walking through the corridors of Aung Tha Pyay Cave. This cave is not so famous but I found it quite impressive. It’s located around 20 minutes’ drive north of Loikaw, you could easily drive there by motorbike. The cave is close to a 1km in length and houses a dozen or so buddha statues, as well as many stalactites and stalagmites. Rather than take a tour over there, you could go by yourself, the entry is free and the place is empty. You’ll have the chance to explore it in silence, it’s quite a spiritual place because of all of the Buddha statues. At the entry you’ll see also some statues of women warriors in Myanmar, the locals were praying to them.
6. Taking amazing photos at Ngwe Taung dam
Loikaw’s nearest neighbor, Demoso, holds its own when it comes to natural beauty. The dam, which helps to irrigate 4,000 acres of farmland, sits between the village of Ngwe Taung and Demoso and is something of a local magnet. Around the dam, Kayan women are selling their crafts and they offer you the chance to wear traditional Kayan clothes and take pictures with the view.
7. Listening to the heartbeat of Loikaw city around the Naung Yar Lake. I have to recognize that the most time spent in Loikaw was around this lake. It’s like a symbol of the city, where people are coming to take a rest or to have food and drinks. Whenever I felt that I need some time for myself, I came there and I just cleared my mind. In the evening, young people are gathering together and sing songs with the guitar. The atmosphere is so relaxing and positive, I wanted to end my article with my favorite place from Loikaw. I enjoyed a lot my time there, I have good memories.