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Discovering the Lahwi Hill People of Kayah State

January 16, 2019 by Khiri Travel | Filed Under: ,

Kayah State is the smallest state in Myanmar, tucked away between the southern part of Inle Lake and the northern boundary of Kayin State. Long isolated from the rest of the country, its Kayah people have developed their own unique customs and traditions, which can only be found in this mountainous part of Myanmar.

With Khiri Travel Myanmar you travel by car and boat for a four days, three nights discovery of this stunning region that includes trekking to several isolated local communities; learning about their customs and beliefs, and hearing their fascinating life stories, steeped with folklore.

The Kayah people, also known as the Karenni, are a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group made up of many different subgroups and one of the most unusual is the Kayan Lahwi, also called the Padaung, whose women are known for wearing brass coils around their necks – a custom which has earned them the name, ‘longnecks’.

Until recently, thanks to little or no communication with the outside world, many of the traditions and customs of the Kayan Lahwi have been preserved. A recently established community program now makes it possible to meet the men, women and children living in the Lahwi longneck communities. With your guide helping to translate, you can chat and exchange stories with these friendly people and find out more about their strange customs, including the significance of the brass neck coils.

You will also pass through areas inhabited mainly by the Lisu people, another Tibeto-Burman group, who wear colourful costumes and inhabit the mountainous regions of Kayah and Kayin states. Friendly and curious, the Lisu people love to meet and interact with outsiders.

During the trekking you pass through rugged mountains, encountering small village settlements and people working in the fields – tending to their crops and rice paddies. The terrain is undulating so at times the trails ascend and descend, though the walking is not too challenging. You will enjoy some fantastic views overlooking the southern part of Inle Lake, near Pekon Township, created by the Moebyel Dam.

You then continue by car to visit several different Kayah tribes, before boarding a private boat that crosses the lake to a traditional Shan house, where you spend the night on the lake’s edge. The final day is spent boating across the waters of the lake; stopping off to explore local villages, the and the famed floating vegetable gardens on the more prosperous parts of Inle Lake.

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