Why go to Loikaw? (Travel+Leisure)

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Newly alluring Loikaw, in Burma, brims with karsts, hill-tribe markets and bold brews. Here, four reasons to go now.

Because the temples and the scenery are impossibly photogenic.

A nest of majestic conical spires, Taung Kwe Pagoda (Road 5 next to Thiri Mingalar Market) awaits you at the top of Thiri Mingalar Hill. Breathe in the scenic panorama of Loikaw from the city’s venerated limestone karst and discover the history of this holy site, then enjoy street-food delicacies and shopping at the adjacent Thiri Mingalar Market.

Because the markets are chockablock with sensational local souvenirs.

Shuffle through a dazzling pageantry of culture and commerce at Demawso Market. Every day, hill-tribe women adorned in colorful dress from nearby hamlets gather at the market to trade and sell produce. Hone your bargaining skills here by purchasing some lacquerware, rattan furniture or other traditional handicrafts.

Because the Burmese brews are the perfect accompaniment to the regional specialties.

End the day with a fresh draft of icy Myanmar Beer while watching a lakeside sunset on a private cottage patio at Hotel Loikaw (hotelloikaw.com; doubles from US$70; drinks for two K2,000). A popular rustic retreat, the hotel’s rooms are comfy, the service warm. Gather with new friends at the property’s restaurant bar, the busiest in town, which serves up familiar Western comfort food and local cuisine. Try hin htoke—a rice-flour batter seasoned with herbs, topped with chicken or pork and pocketed and steamed in a banana leaf.

Because a boat ride here will take you back in time.

Charter a trip from MT & K (traveltomyanmar.com; three-day river journeys from US$463 per person, double) from Moe Bye, one hour’s drive from Loikaw, north to Inle Lake. A scenic five- to six-hour longtail boat ride takes you on a journey back in time as you pass water buffalo and bucolic villages accented by the ancient Shan temples of Sankar. Take every opportunity possible to interact with the friendly tribes in front of mountain vistas. +

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