The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism knows the importance of having communities involved in its tourism efforts. As such it has been actively promoting the Community-Based Tourism (CBT) initiative. In its programmes, locals and tourists are able to experience engaging interaction and cultural enhancement. Because of the unique and diverse range of peoples in Myanmar, there is so much to learn and indulge in for both local and foreign tourists alike. Participate in Myanmar’s Community-Based Tourism (CBT) programmes, interact with the people of Myanmar, gain in-depth knowledge of their culture and traditions, and contribute to the community members’ communication and skill development.
The Inndawgyi Wildlife Sanctuary was Myanmar’s first eco-tourism site. Opened in 2013, this sanctuary is the result of the ministries of hotels and tourism’s efforts in environmental conservation. As of 2016, there are four villages appointed as CBT sites: Lone Tone, Haipu, Nant Mee Laung He and Nyaung Pyinat. Local residents would provide bed-and-breakfast accommodation as part of the CBT programmes. Package tours organised by organisations and travel companies are also available. Tourists can enjoy kayaking, cycling, explore villages and even discover the history of religious sites.
This Community-Based Tourism (CBT) happens to involve six Ayeyarwady villages between Sagaing and Mandalay. This CBT programme has caught the attention of many tourists for its unique activity that showcases a special interaction between local fishermen and the famous Irrawaddy Dolphins. Visitors also gain hands-on experience in fishing and casting nets under the guidance of local fishermen/women involved in the programme. Boat trips along the Ayeyarwady River reward tourists with the splendid view of nature and wildlife. Tourists can also observe village life and learn about architecture, religion, tradition, and even handicraft skills.
In Sagaing Region’s CBT, tourists get to experience pottery-making and learn the people’s way in local agriculture. This programme also allows tourists to explore the beauty of nature found in this region by observing dolphins discover a rare Pyu City listed as a UNESCO World Heritage.
CBT in Zalon Taung was initiated in 2017 but foreign tourists are not allowed entry as the area is still one of the restricted zones in Myanmar. However, there were 76,854 domestic visitors who participated in CBT programmes from December 2017 to September 2018.
In 2016, the small Kayah State (Loikaw) was offered the CBT initiative in 4 villages: Pan Pet, Hta Nee La Leh, Daw Ta Ma Gyi and Htay Kho. As the state is rich with distinctive tribes packed with diverse culture and traditions, cultural tours in this region give tourists a detailed insight into the authentic lifestyle of the villagers. This tour provides valuable experience in exploring Kayah’s breathtaking surrounding, learning about each tribe’s culture, lifestyle, handicrafts, and silversmithing skills. Locals will also invite tourists to join them in making Kayah sausages to be savoured together with Kayah rice wine on a feast-like occasion.
Four villages are chosen to be CBT sites of Pa-O. Lwe Kaw, Inne, Hteenae and Kakku villages offer ample opportunities to tourists who wish to discover more about Pa-O’s culture, craft, cultivation and cooking skills. Tourists can join the locals in dancing and singing to folk songs enjoyed by the villagers. They can also participate in cooking and tasting traditional delicacies that can only be found in the villages. By engaging in constant interaction, tourists get to learn more about the locals’ culture and the villagers are able to be better communicators and individuals who keep their culture alive.
The Danu CBT focusses on the Danu people along with their traditions and skills. Based at Pin Sein Pin and Sikyaa Inn villages in Pindaya Township, visitors can immerse into the authentic lifestyle of the villagers by staying there with the locals. One lodge is available in each village, offering close interaction between tourists and locals. Villagers offer to bring tourists to trek the landscape of the area while introducing traditional agriculture to them. Tourists are also invited to dance and sing with the locals in cultural events to experience the traditional routines of the Danu people.
The CBT initiative in this village encourages participation of tourists and locals alike by building six bungalows which each being able to accommodate up to 12 visitors. As locals are also living nearby, tourists can observe and even participate in the daily routines of these villagers. It is a unique hands-on experience to tourists who love to immerse themselves into the authentic traditional environment of a village.
“Samkar” takes its name from the frangipani tree and here on Samkar lake travelers have the opportunity to spend time with communities of three ethnic groups: Shan, Pa’O, and Intha.Samkar Lake CBT is located about 35 miles south of Inle Lake. The CBT project was started in 2017 and the first 1Day packages were launched on the market in 2019. Now Samkar Lake CBT offers several experiences as home-cooked traditional lunch at a local family’s home, relax on a unique bamboo raft or traditional handmade canoes to admire the beautiful and pristine lake with its ancient aqueduct and pagodas. Community guides lead travelers around their villages to discover workshops and handicrafts. Moreover, this CBT offers accommodation in the eco-friendly Samkar Kham Lodge, entirely made in bamboo and equipped with solar panels, and it proposes local delicacies in the annexed restaurant.
There are 4 available CBT lodges in Lwal Pann Sone to accommodate visitors who participate in its programmes. Locals would bring visitors to explore Pekon Township where there are plenty of activities to do, such as kayaking, traditional agriculture, sightseeing and learning about the culture of the villagers.
For this pending initiative, villagers are required to attend local guide, hotel services, history and destination knowledge training as part of being involved in the initiative. This is to ensure that the community is able to provide services that are helpful to tourists when they visit the villages.
Sorlong Village has been chosen as one of Chin State’s CBT sites in 2017. The tours provide visitors with a worthwhile experience in observing the Chin people’s culture and traditions. Locals will also guide tourists to climb the Khaw Nau Sone Mountain, a crucial area for various bird species and witness the scenic beauty of Kawlong Waterfall. Visitors can also spend the night in a nearly untouched village and interact with the locals there. Tourists can also enjoy celebrating like the locals by dancing and drinking traditional Chin wine.
Ta Suan village, well-known for its great historical value was chosen to be a CBT site in 2018. The village was where Bo John Bi, former Chin National Leader once resided. The village was also a communication hub between Chin State and India during World War II, attracting tourists over to the village due to its historical value. Visitors can enjoy seeing the architecture of the houses and the village formation in Ta Suan as well as the historical landmarks and buildings.
The initiative was implicated in 4 villages in Magway: East Kangyi Taw, West Kangyi Taw, Inn Yaung and Suli Pan. The villages provide a comfortable and convenient stay for tourists. They can cycle around the villages and observe the routines of the locals as well as visiting the impressive 170-year-old monastery near the area. CBT members are provided with skill training in which they will be qualified to be guides, handicraft and weaving experts and many more. Tourists also get to enjoy taking a ride on the traditional bullock-cart.
CBT in Magyikan Village (Tamarind Lake Village Homes) serves as a platform for locals to showcase their culture and traditions to tourists. Visitors are constantly invited to join the locals in enjoying traditional activities, enabling them to learn more about the people’s culture. This includes trekking around the village with the locals, tasting the village’s traditional cuisines and snacks, riding on bullock carts, and visiting tamarind juice production sites.
In this village, tourists can enjoy activities included in the CBT initiative like sightseeing, exploring natural forests and witnessing the villages’ agriculture. There is also an old monastery nearby believed to be 100 years old. The intriguing sight of the monastery usually attracts tourists to join the programmes offered by CBT. Visitors can also enjoy weaving, fishing, swimming, bamboo raft raiding under the guidance of the locals.
In October 2016, Sithe Village and MyitKanGyi Village were chosen to be CBT sites. The initiative allows tourists to experience the authentic traditional lifestyle of the villagers through architecture, people, activities, handicraft-making, pottery and cooking. Local fishermen will also guide tourists in casting nets to catch fish in the traditional way. Tourists get to immerse themselves in this village and gain the experience of living like a local with CBT.
In Daung, YwarThit, Myay Sun, Sein Pan Gone, Aye Kyun and HsinKyun villages gain attention from foreign visitors due to cultural and natural diversity. With as many as 6 participating villages, tourists get to witness distinctive clans showcasing different culture and traditions. Visitors also get to see Irrawaddy Dolphins interacting with the fishermen as they learn about traditional fishing.
The negotiation to launch a CBT initiative in Sin Taung Village is still ongoing. There have also been talks about building a village lounge with comfortable rooms that are enough to accommodate tourists involved in the programme. If a CBT is launched in this village, tourists will get to experience the authentic traditional lifestyle of the locals.
CBT in Kyaikthalae village, Twante Township allows tourists to witness the planting of the Bio-garden in Yangon. Visitors can also see how locals weave baskets, visit monastic schools and talk to the students residing in the area, and at the same time offering them harvest from the bio-garden. Tourists can also learn the interesting process of creating natural fertilizer, cultivating crops and also poultry farming.
Initially implemented at Launglon Township, Thanintharyi as a pilot project, the CBT initiative in San Hlan has 3 lodges that can accommodate up to 20 visitors. As the area is near the beach, visitors get to relax with comfort or participate in water activities like snorkeling, swimming, enjoying the panoramic view and also learn how to fish using traditional ways from local fishermen.
Despite proposing to initiate a CBT project in Makyonegalet Village, Kaw Thaung, the initiative has to be put on hold due to land ownership issues, making the village a pending CBT site rich with cultural and natural diversity waiting to be explored.
Despite proposing to initiate a CBT project in Makyonegalet Village, Kaw Thaung, the initiative has to be put on hold due to land ownership issues.
Villagers offer bed and breakfast services to tourists as well as local guiding services. Tourists will obtain great experiences in this CBT village as the locals have received training in multiple areas and skills needed to aid tourists who are visiting Myanmar. Tourists can explore the forests with locals as their guide and also gather with the locals to celebrate their festivals.