Loikaw is the capital of Kayah State in Myanmar. It is located in the Karen Hills area, near the State’s northern tip, just above on the Pilu River. The inhabitants are mostly Kayah (Karenni).
The town’s primary interest is its varying hill tribes, some of which are only found in this area. The Padaung or “Long Neck” tribe, distinguished by their gold (or copper) coils which circle their necks, are one of these.
The Kayah (Karenni) ethnic group forms the majority, and the territory was named for the bright crimson head wraps and shawls of the Kayinni, or “Red Kayin” people. The town bursts with color as many ethnic minority groups proudly wear their traditional dress.
Another ethnic group, the Padaung people, are known for the circles of thinly pounded brass necklaces used to elongate the necks of the women, though the practice has become less standard in the younger generations.
What To See In Loikaw?
The town itself is scattered around the Thiri Mingalar Taung Kwae pagoda perched high up on a limestone monolith which affords great views of Loikaw and the surrounding mountain ranges, especially at sunset. Further to the south is the little visited Emerald Tree pagoda where the vista spreads over the old and new parts of town. From here, it is evident to see where the much more verdant hills of Shan state and the arid lands of Kayah meet at Loikaw
Thiri Mingalar Taung Kwae Pagoda
The centerpiece for most visitors to 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. They are interesting and fun to wander around and provide a different experience to other pagodas in Myanmar as well as offering panoramic views of the distant plains, hills and mountains.
Loikaw also provides ample opportunity to learn about local cottage industries and crafts making. The surrounding areas are perfect for treks and unique explorations in the future when the region opens further.