Visiting Loikaw will put you in the true heart of Myanmar. There will be very few tourists around. Some days you won’t see anybody. And that was an incredible experience to be in a place as the only foreigner. It’s where I learned way more about the country than any other city I visited. I’m sure you’ll learn something too. Below is a guide to experience it all.
Loikaw is a surprisingly long way away from Inle Lake, although on the map it looks close distance-wise. You have to route through Kalaw to get on a different highway – a total drive of six hours. You could also go to Taungoo or come from there. Yangon is a direct shot with a stop in Naypyidaw, the new capital – a total of 12 hours.
Where to Stay:
Amazing Box Hostel – this brand new hostel in the center of Loikaw, features a rooftop bar, very clean beddings, and one of the best air condition systems in Myanmar. We stayed here a few more days than expected and loved every minute of it. The staff were super friendly and even took us to dinner one night.
What to Do:
Visiting the Pan Pet Longneck Villages
The draw towards visiting Loikaw is primarily based on visiting the Longneck Villages – the original location of this tradition. There are equivalent locations in Thailand called the Karen Long Neck Tribe, but these are survivors who fled from previous wars within Myanmar. Visiting this unique place opens your eyes and lets you see something that no other tourist has seen.
See Elephants and a Few Long Neck Villagers
Myanmar has the largest population of Asian elephants in the world and in Loikaw you can see a few of them at a small spot on the turnoff after the city of Demoso. It’s on the way to the long neck villages. In front of the Ngwe Taung Dam (Lake), you can find two or more elephants and a few long neck children and adults who hang around for the day.
I don’t know the name of this pagoda, but it sits on top a hill as you are driving towards the Pan Pet Longneck Villages. In the photo, the road going to the right is towards the villages, and to the left is going back to Loikaw. You’ll see it 20-30 minutes after the turnoff that cuts through Demoso. It’s a beautiful set of silver, red and gold stupas.
Taung Kwe Pagoda
A beautiful pagoda that sits on top of a rock outcropping, Taung Kwe is the perfect spot to watch sunset and marvel at the unrivaled landscape of Myanmar. It’s a steep climb to the top, but once you get there, the sun sets behind a large mountain range, and the colors on the pagodas change to all sorts of hues.
Most of the city of Loikaw can be walked from the Amazing Box Hostel. To reach the villages though, you will need a scooter. The rental is quite expensive for Myanmar standards, but that could have also been my lack of negotiating skills. Expect to pay around $20-30 for a day. But on the plus side, they can pick you up (our moped broke down along the way) and deliver you a new bike on the road, if you know where you are.
More Myanmar Guides Here:
These are my other guides for Myanmar:
Explore the whole country: Your Travel Guide to Myanmar
Explore Bagan: Your Travel Guide to Bagan
Explore Inle Lake: Your Travel Guide to Inle Lake
Explore Loikaw: Your Travel Guide to Loikaw
Explore Hpa-an: Your Travel Guide to Hpa-an
Explore Yangon: Your Travel Guide to Yangon
Get Inspired for Myanmar: Top Five Reasons to Visit Myanmar