Kayah State is one of the poorest State in Myanmar. Situated in the Eastern part of Myanmar, it is bordered by Shan State in the north and Kayin State in the west and south. To the east was Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province. The capital of Kayah State is Loikaw, a medium size city in this highly mountainous region. It was recently opened for tourism although several areas outside the capital Loikaw are still off limit to foreign tourists at the moment.
You can reach Loikaw by car or by air. Travelling by air is the most convenient and most comfortable way to go, as well as the safest. Roads are still bumpy in this State, and during rainy season might be a bit dangerous to travel. Myanmar National Airlines flight flies once a day to Loikaw, leaving Yangon in the morning at 7:45 AM. Flight from Loikaw to Yangon leaves at 9:05 AM. Fare is around USD 100 per person per trip (one way). If you prefer to travel by road, you can use the express buses to Loikaw. The express buses leave from the Highway station at around 2 PM, and will arrive to Loikaw the next day early in the morning.
There are several hotels and resorts in Loikaw. For the best resort, we recommend Kayah Resort. It is the only resort in the city with a swimming pool, and is both popular among local tourists as well as among foreign visitors. The hotel staffs are quite friendly, and could arrange for hiring cars or bicycles for travelling in the town. The hotel is also quite close to the city, with only four minutes by car. Several of the places near Loikaw are still off limit to tourists, and require permission to travel. The hotel has some connections that they could arrange to get the permission in a short period of time for its customers. You can contact them at +95 925 888 7070 and +95 925 888 2020.
For a cheaper deal, Kan Thar Yar Hotel is quite popular among tourists. The rooms are clean and staffs are friendly. Number of hotel rooms are quite limited in Loikaw, and during tourist season, rooms may be sold out pretty quickly, so we recommend booking in advanced, rather than find a place to stay after arriving to the city.
If you ride a bicycle from Kayah Resort to Loikaw City centre, there is a market near the bridge next to the airport. The market opens the whole day and is a good place to start your tour of the local customs and meet local people.
A must see place in Loikaw for any visitor is the Taung Kwei Zedi. Famous for its unique construction, the pagoda complex was built on a mountain that was split into two halves, hence the name “Taung Kwe” (split mountain) in Myanmar. Another must see place in Loikaw is Lwe-ta-mu Cave. Recently discovered, it is quite popular among local tourists. It is actually situated inside the military establishment so may be off limit to tourists, but you could ask your hotel to get permission to visit the cave. The cave goes down deep into the mountain and is quite deep and beautiful inside.
While you are in Loikaw, one must try local food is traditional Kayah sausage. The best Kayah sausage is sold at a shop in Mingalar quarter, with the brand name Mingalar sausage. If you prefer a home made Kayah sausage, call Ko Paw Lu at 09778785812.
For dinner, most of the shops and restaurants in Loikaw close at around 7 PM. Loikaw City Restaurant near the city centre remains open until late night, and serve delicious food at a reasonable price. Or you might ask your hotel to arrange for the dinner if you don’t want to venture out during the night time.