Kayah State trip

Kayah State is Myanmar smallest state and tucked away between the Southern part of Inle Lake and the Northern part of Kayin State. An interesting state for it’s people with all different beliefs and customs who have lived for centuries in this hilly part of Myanmar close to the Thai border.

local villages - Myanmar

During this 4 day trip that starts from Kalaw we take you by train, car and boat for an adventure discovering several communities, have a look into their daily lives, their customs and believes and their fascinating stories. The Kayah have many different tribes and one of the most well-known are of course the longneck women. A recently set-up community program makes it possible to meet the Man, women and children living in these communities and ask them directly why they were the rings, how they feel about it and anything else you would like to know.

From Kalaw we take you – partly by local train – through an area mainly inhabited by the colourful Pa O people all wearing their traditional costumes. We continue by car and have 1,5 day to visit 2 different Kayah tribes and travel from there by private boat over Pekon Lake and stay overnight in lodge built in a traditional Shan house on the lake side. From there we travel over the lake and stops for visits in , Hmawbi pagoda and floating gardens towards the more developed part of Inle Lake.

Especially during the green season (June – September) it’s an excellent area to visit as the fields are green and scenery is beautiful


Day 1:

Kalaw (or Heho) – Pinlaung – train & car to Loikaw

Meals: L, D

A former Shan palace and a scenic train ride

From Kalaw (or from Heho airport if you arrive around 10:00 AM) we bring you by car to Pinlaung (about 2 hours’ drive) where you are being welcomed by a local family who will take you on a short walk to visit the leftovers of old wooden palace from the last Sawbwa (=prince) of the Pinlaung principality. If permitted we pay our respect to the over 80 year old former princess who is still living in the compound.

We start in the morning from Kalaw by car and do parts of the trip by train and parts of it by mountain bike. As the train through the mountains is so slow it’s possible to bike faster than the train. So if you bike fast enough you can hop off the train, hop on your bike and catch the same train again at the next stationJ. A fun way to compete between yourself and the train and enjoy a beautiful scenery in the Shan hills. Yes, there are hills in the Shan hills so some parts are uphill while other parts are downhill.

We have a simply Shan lunch at the host families home and continue to the railway station where we say goodbye to our Shan guide and take the train (leaving a 14:07) for a scenic trip till Saung Byaung (arrival around 16:00).

Your Kayah guide is waiting for you at Saung Byaung station to welcome you in Kayah state and bring you by car (about 1 hour and 15 min) to Loikaw.

In the evening a home cooked typical Kayah dinner is served at a local family house.

Overnight at Kayah Resort – deluxe bungalow

Temples - Myanmar

Day 2:

Loikaw – visit long neck communities and trekking

Meals: B, L,

The Dutch organization CBI has set-up a program in Kayah state to ensure that communities benefit from tourism and organize excursions in a sustainable way. 2 of their projects will be visited during the stay in Loikaw.

longneck - Myanmar

We start the morning with a visit to the always bustling morning market in Loikaw, the former palace of the Kayah prince and the Kayah Museum to spend 15 minutes or so see some of the typical artefacts of this state.

Trail of the ancestors trek and long neck villages

From here we continue to Kasae Kum village where we will see how the rings that some Kayah women wear around their neck are actually made. An excellent opportunity to learn about the legends of the longneck women.

Continue by car to Pemsong village where we start a trekking: Trail of the Ancestors.

During about 4 hours a local community guide will walk along with you and the translator guide and tell the story of their ancestors including all beliefs in spirits, the importance of the totem pole and herbal medicines. The first 30 min is uphill followed by mainly flat parts, the views are always stunning and a delicious picnic lunch is served half way.

The trekking ends in one of the Kayah villages where you will meet more longneck women. We drive towards Loikaw and visit a traditional Kayah boxing training centre (and hopefully can see a glimpse of this traditional martial art form in action) and go for some “sundowners” with typical Kayah liquor (or simply a beer) and Kayah sausages.

Overnight at Kayah Resort – deluxe bungalow


Day 3:

Loikaw – Pekon – Samkar

Meals: B, L (Breakfast at the hotel)

Kayah village walk & BBQ lunch at 7 lakes

In the morning we visit by car the Hta Nee La Leh and meet some of the community members who explain (translation by your guide) their shrines where animist traditions are practiced. An easy stroll through the community. Continue by oxcart for a 30 min scenic ride to the 7 lakes where a Kayah Barbecue lunch has been set-up for you.

Shortly after lunch we drive to Pekon where you say farewell to you Kayah guide and meet your Shan guide who will take you by private boat over the wide Pekon Lake in about 2 hours to Samkar village.

Inle Lake - Myanmar

If time allows we visit the Samkar monastery or simply let you relax on the terrace at the little Samkar Lodge to watch the sunset.

Overnight in a little lodge in Samkar


Day 4:

Samkar – Inle Lake

Meals: B, L (Breakfast at the lodge)

We continue by private boat and drive northwards to Nyaung Shwe (or your hotel on the lake). On the way we visit Hmawbi temple ruins and other sights the lake is famous for.

Inle Lake - Myanmar

A day on the lake!

Inle Lake in southern Shan State is a vast natural lake surrounded by traditional Shan villages. On the lake itself the Intha people have been living for many centuries in village built entirely on stilts on the lake. Today we will take you by private motorboat around the lake to discover the natural beauty of the lake, visit the floating gardens, see some of the famous leg rowers and have some tea at a local family’s house. On and around the lake traditional markets are held in different villages according to a 5-day rotating schedule and today we will take you to visit a colourful market frequented by Shan and PaO people living nearby. We will certainly also visit a local cheroot factory (where the Burmese cigars are made), floating tomato gardens, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, an Intha house where a traditional Intha lunch is served and if wanted we visit a weaving factory.

We suggest you to spend 2 or 3 nights in Nyaung Shwe or Inle Lake area for further trekking, biking, kayaking or other visits on the lake by boat.

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