Loikaw is the capital of the Kayah State at the South East of Inle Lake in between the Shan State at the North, the Kayin State in the South and Thailand at the East.
An extension to Loikaw and its surrounding villages is a very interesting experience to discover the variety of landscapes in this region situated at around 125 miles from Heho airport.
To reach Loikaw from Heho takes about 6 hours with a few stops on the way for short visits in some villages; the road is narrow but in overall rather good apart few portions yet in poor condition, that can be curvy, and similar as a mountain road; the scenery is beautiful along the road, green and hilly;
the road crosses a part of Pa -O territories, a minority easy to recognize with Pa-O ladies headdress with a bright orange color shawl that often wear women of this ethnic group;
The fields are essentially paddies fields, corn fields and it can be often seen vegetable gardens around local houses. The main cities crossed from Heho are Aung Ban, … bearing the name of the huge artificial lake that constitutes an extension to Inle Lake and Sagar Lake;
Before to arrive Loikaw, you will notice a huge reservoir to connect to Inle and Sagar Lake; the lake of Pekone was created in 1963 to produce hydroelectricity and provide Yangon and Mandalay electricity.
Hotels are still very few in Loikaw, comfort is basic but acceptable; the hotel the most popular by tourists “Hotel Loikaw.”
The first day is then dedicated to the transfer by road from Heho. During the second day, an excursion to the village of Pampet about fifty kilometers from Loikaw to discover the local life of the minority Palaung and the famous “Giraffes” women with elongated neck and superimposed rings; This tradition still continues in today’s day among the younger generation… you might seen some of them working in the surrounding fields of their village…the village consists of about forty houses…at midday, a nice experience is to even have your lunch at the village, a simple but tasty lunch;
most of the people is busy with agricultural activities; some now have small tractors; many villagers have gardens and houses are equipped with solar panels to offset electricity that has not yet reached the village;
after coming back from Pampet, the second part of the day is dedicated to visit the small capital of Kayah State, Loikaw; most residents of that State, are Catholic, converted by Italian missionaries in the nineteenth century, originally animists; the belief continues today among some residents; pillars erected in the village of Chi Ke as posts of offerings to the elements as the sky, the sun in order mainly to get good harvests; the offerings ceremonies take place during the Burmese New Year.
Loikaw is primarily known for the famous site of Thaung GWe, where two temples are erected on a rock cleft in the middle overlooking Loikaw and from where you can admire the panoramic view on the surrounding countryside; a visit is the magnificent wooden building, originally the town hall of Loikaw, was converted into a monastery and totally renovated; the building is well preserved and you can admire the finesse of wood architecture.
On the third day, the return to Inle Lake is mainly by water from the Pekone tank, then through the Saggar and Inle Lakes; the trip takes about 5 hours by boat, the scenery is gorgeous with the mountains surrounding the lakes until you reach Inle Lake or Nyaung Shwe in the evening. You can then continue your discovery of Inle Lake the following days.
This excursion to the Kayah State is a real trip off the beaten paths in a beautiful countryside to discover the provincial life and some minorities to live there with their traditional activities away from the tourists flow, a getaway in “real” Burma, typical and diverse; a discovery not too miss if time allows you to grant a minimum of three additional days in your journey.