CBT sites in Kayah State
Destination Ayeyarwady is a multi-award-winning Eco-Resort for tourists situated idyllically on the east bank of the Ayeyarwady River in Hsithe Village and ideal for daytrips or over-night stays in the bespoke ‘Dolphin-Ecolodge’ with river-view.
Created as a Dolphin-Conservation-Programme, Destination Ayeyarwady is a must-see for all dolphin lovers and those interested in traditional Myanmar culture. With its visitor centre and ecolodge accommodation, both made of reclaimed wood and biodegradable materials, delicious organic food, wide range of activities and village-made handicrafts, it contributes to sustainable tourism.
The villagers who run this project will give you a wonderful reception and make you instantly feel relaxed and at home. Through the authenticity of the place, you are transported 100 years back in time and you will love it! Hsithe village is one of the few places in the world where fishermen and women have traditionally fished cooperatively with dolphins. Without roads or cars, life still revolves around the river. Local transport is boat and ox cart. Life continues in the three monasteries as it has for centuries; and family life is lived in old-style wooden houses, shaded by giant mango trees.
Destination Ayeyarwady has wonderful opportunities for wildlife watching and photography. Critically endangered Irrawaddy River dolphins are frequent visitors to the river opposite the ecolodge (but not guaranteed). Destination Ayeyarwady offers authentic fishing-trips with photo opportunities and alternatively bird-watching between November and March. Cultural activities include learning to cast a traditional fishing net, a much-loved experience – practicing initially on land before venturing out onto the river itself.
A guided tour of the village is also a must with much to see, and interactive experiences include making traditional cigars. There is also a lovely walk to Khathin Pagoda, passing through a village, where traditional pottery is made.
For those with a culinary inclination, cooking lessons are available - an excellent chance to learn how to prepare traditional Myanmar delicious dishes. There are bicycles (FOC) for visitors to explore and in the evening sunsets with cocktails and candle light barbecues by the river.
Situated 60 km north of Mandalay, a visit to Destination Ayeyarwady can be combined with visiting other local attractions such as the famous potteries at Kyaung Myaung. Further afield, there is the town of Katha, which provided the inspiration for George Orwell’s novel ‘Burmese Days’.
For those who like diverse landscapes and cultures, there is the town of Mogok on the edge of the Shan Plateau. Mogok is famous for its gemstones and especially its beautiful pink ‘Burmese’ rubies and visiting the gemstone market is particularly interesting.
Meanwhile to the west, the town of Shwebo is the gateway to Chatthin Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to some of the last remaining Indaing forest and a flourishing population of globally endangered Elds deer. It is also a birders paradise, with over 260 bird species recorded.
The best time to visit Destination Ayeyarwady is from November to March - the dry season. Conditions are very pleasant at the destination, and in December and January it can be quite cool at night. The lower level of the water means that dolphin sightings are more frequent and there are many migrant birds who have flown south to escape from the icy Siberian winter.
The month of May is best avoided as there are frequent storms and the temperatures can be very hot. The rainy season (June to October) is not particularly wet in Hsithe village and the vegetation looks attractively green and lush. However, it is a time when renovation works are often planned.
In addition, there are days when the destination and much of the village flood, so this is only for the most intrepid. Bookings for this period can only be taken at relatively short notice.