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The Kayan tribe is a subgroup of the Karreni people. An ethnic minority in Burma. Because of the military conflict of 1990 most of them left for the border with Thailand.

Characteristics Kayan

The Kayan are recognizable especially by the necklace that women wear. These large brass rings around the neck of a monstrous weight is a tradition that tends to get lost.


The nickname "woman-giraffe" is not well seen in Burma because the people do not want to compare their women to animals.


The government would like to stop perpetuating this tradition so that the country appears more "western". But the tribes bringing back tourism, and the economy allowing them to live, the tradition does not lose its vitality.



Where to meet them?

Most of the villages are not far from Loikaw .


Book a hotel in Loikaw and ask a tuk tuk or taxi to take you to the Kayan villages for the day or afternoon.


You will have to negotiate the price and above all make the driver understand that you do not want to go to the tourist place.


Indeed, the driver will bring you to the first point, where you will see women with long necks, but it will mainly be small shops where they will try to sell you fake necklaces and other gadgets.

It is a tourist trap and nothing is authentic about it.


After debating a while with the driver who pretended not to understand, we managed to get him to drive us further, sinking into the real villages.

It's super poor and their houses are made of odds and ends.


We were not expecting the experience that will follow!




Discovery of a Kayan village

After asking the driver to leave us in the wild  (he did not quite understand our attentions) we advanced towards a village without really knowing what would await us.

There was super loud music so we went to have a look. A large family was making preparations. We approached slowly, and they did not speak English. Difficult to explain why we were there and that we did not want to intrude on them.


Through someone who was gibbering a bit in English, we understood that they were celebrating the pre-wedding party. They cooked and played music. What an experience!





The women with the long neck wanted to make us taste a drink in an earthen jar. I was afraid and did not want to. The boys drank it several times because the old women insisted and laughed when they drank. So we thought it must be something not very clear, ahah like why not an opium drink.


We finally learned that it is a kind of fermented rice alcohol.

But it had already made them a bit dizzy.


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We tried to communicate with people, danced with the children, then they invited us to eat to our surprise. They prepared a table for us and made everything all right, we were a little uncomfortable. (For respect we gave them some money at the end, they were very grateful. Besides, it is often advisable to ask for authorization to take photos, portraits, in exchange of a few coins).


After that, I asked to try the basket they carry for harvesting in the fields and the huge slopes. It is heavy, uncomfortable and mine was empty and I was on a flat floor ! An immense respect for these women ..


I then took out the drone on the ground which was used as a soccer field. The crowd was there, they had never seen it in their life and were happy to see their village from another angle.


A great time!





The afternoon ended with a boys' volleyball match.




Get off the beaten track. Do not be scared. You may live a unique experience and an unforgettable exchange.



How to get to Loikaw?

From Yangon center, take a grab to Mingalar Highway Bus Station. Allow some time given the traffic.


The VIP bus for Loikaw costs € 10 per person. This kind of bus is the best for traveling in Myanmar, because the most comfortable and good value for money.


We spent the whole night on the bus, and experienced the famous delay on Myanmar's roads, because we get a flat tyre in the middle of the night, time to change the wheel etc ... it's the adventure you will see ! Always plan extra time for all cases.

Where to stay?

Empire hotel

Private room with bathroom, breakfast included 30 € per night for 2


I hope you liked this article and made you want to get out of the tourist path for a more authentic experience.

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