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Kayah State

 

Kayah (formerly ‘Karenni’) State is Myanmar's smallest state, and is occupied by 9 distinct ethnic groups; the largest is that of the Kayah and the second largest is the Kayan tribe. The women of the Kayan people (also referred to as the Padaung tribe) are well known for wearing the neck rings that make them appear to have remarkably long necks. Although one can see Kayan women exhibited as tourist attractions in China, Thailand and even other parts of Myanmar, by visiting Padaung villages in Kayah State travellers can meet and engage with these affable ladies on their own turf, on their own terms.

Travellers can also visit ethnic Kayaw, Lisu and even Inthar villages, the latter having migrated down from Inle to the banks of the Balu Chaung river.

In the state capital Loikaw, Myanmar visitors can try their hand at making the fiery pepper sausage of the Kayah people, visit the old Shan palace Mingalar Haw Gyi, and climb up Taung Kwe, or ‘Broken Mountain’, on the split peak of which sits one of the most outré pagodas in Myanmar.

 

Kayah State is an optimum destination for adventurous explorers in Myanmar. One can delve into the mammoth caves Aung de Pyi and Kyet Gu, the latter containing a large amount of empty broken coffins. (If you ask the Karenni who the former inhabitants of these coffins could have been, the answers you receive will vary from British colonialists to vampyric, shape-shifting behemoths.) Travellers can also go swimming at Tee Say Kah waterfall and clamber up one of the Taung Thong Lo (‘Three Mountains’) for stunning sunset views over the state.

One can travel down to Kayah State by boat from Inle Lake or alternatively by car from Kalaw through the Shan Hills.

Keen to visit Kayah? Have a look at our discovery journeys and get in touch if you have any questions.