Kayah State in Myanmar Now Open for International Visitors

Myanmar, Kayah State, communities

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For now a month, restrictions have been lifted for tourists to further discover two regions of Kayah State, which used to be restricted for foreign visitors.

Local Myanmar newspaper the Irrawaddy reported last month that Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism had decided to relax travel restrictions for foreigners visiting Kayah State, allowing them to visit two previously restricted areas. The opening of  occurred to commemorate the 68th anniversary of Kayah State Day on January 15.

“Those villages already have community-based tourism. Previously, foreigners had to seek prior approval from authorities to visit those villages. Now, they don’t need to do so,” said a ministry official who spoke under condition of anonymity to the Irrawaddy. He said that previously, foreigners could only visit urban areas of those townships freely.

He added that the Hotels and Tourism Ministry may coordinate with the Home Affairs Ministry and the state government for the security of foreign visitors, if necessary.

According to the Loikaw branch of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar tourism authorities and their Thai counterparts are also involved in negotiations to establish the border between Thailand’s Mae Hong Son Province and Kayah State’s Mese Township as an international border gate. During a session of the Lower House of Parliament in December, deputy Hotels and Tourism Minister U Tin Latt said his ministry would work to develop tourist sites in Mese Township.

Nearly 100,000 local and foreign travelers have visited Kayah State annually for the past few years, according to the Loikaw branch office of the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism. The area mostly attracts European travellers, particularly French, Germans and Italians who come to know about the culture of the famous Kayan Padaung long-neck ladies.