On a wide area of level ground in Kayah State, within the misty landscape of the Karen Hills, nestles Loikaw: the state capital, and regional focal point. Closed to visitors for over half a century, this diverse and picturesque region has only recently opened up again. The town has several higher-education institutions, a hospital, busy markets, and air and rail links to Yangon and Mandalay, making it a comparatively thriving hub in this remote part of Myanmar. Experience the warm hospitality of the local communities as you learn about the region’s unique cuisine and customs.
Obviously there's a lot more, this is just to get you started...
The centrepiece of the city is the 13th-century Thirimingala Pagoda, also known as Taung Kwe Zedi: a tall limestone outcrop topped with the gleaming, golden spires of a large temple complex. Second, perhaps, only to the Golden Rock, this is one of the most beautiful temples in Myanmar. Climb to the top for fantastic views over Loikaw, particularly at sunset, and see the pagodas illuminated at night from the city below. Search out similar, smaller groups of pagodas dotted around Loikaw, each providing peaceful moments and a different perspective.
A highlight of any visit to Loikaw is a stay at the welcoming Loikaw Lodge. The level of hospitality is exceptional: nothing is too much trouble and staff are only too happy to offer information and advice about the region. The food is excellent, with the in-house cafe serving delicious Italian-style food alongside traditional Burmese dishes, all created using fresh ingredients bought daily from the market. The Lodge’s owner, Jens, is a talented photographer specialising in documenting the culture and traditions of local communities, and the corridors double up as a gallery for his stunning work.
Travelling to and from the remote villages in the hills surrounding Loikaw isn’t for the faint hearted, as the bumpy roads certainly give your vehicle’s suspension a work-out! However, the chance to spend time with members of some of Myanmar’s diverse communities, finding out more about their ways of life, is more than worth a tricky journey. Learning about gathering edible and medicinal plants from the forested hillside and, with help from your guide, chatting and sharing stories with the villagers, is an unforgettable experience.