Thriving with dense greenery and wildlife, Ayeyarwady serves as the ideal getaway for those who love to explore the beauty of nature. The journey to the region from Yangon takes about 2 hours. Tourists crowd this place for a session of relaxation by the calm and peaceful environment of Ayeyarwady. The locals also love visiting the beaches during the weekends as they are not too far from the surrounding regions and states. The picturesque view of the beaches that showcases crystal clear water under the bright blue sky prompts tourists to go for a refreshing swim. The region is rich with culture and traditions of tribes that reside in that area. Ayeyarwady also offers tons of fun adventures and activities like sailing, elephant observations and visiting pagodas.
Origin: People in Ayeyarwady Region belong to several ethnic groups like Bamar, Rakhine, Indians, and Kayin. Common religions are Buddhism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism. The locals mainly speak Myanmarese/Burmese.
Geography: With the size of 35,140 km2/13,570 sq mi, the region is bordered by Bago Region, Yangon Region and Bay of Bengal with tropical monsoon and tropical savanna climates.
Interesting facts: The delta region used to be a part of Mon which is another state in Myanmar. Ayeyarwady has the most population out of all regions and states in Myanmar with 6.184 million people (2014). As Ayeyarwady flourishes with forests, the region heavily relies on wood products to contribute to the economy.
FLOURISHING RIVER DELTA
The river flows through a delta before reaching the Andaman Sea, making the delta fertile with a packed ecosystem and rare animal species. The river-borne slit flourishes the delta with fertile alluvium, making it an ideal area for rice plantation, mangroves and swamp forests. The delta also functions as a migration spot for birds during the winter. Tourists can see migratory shorebirds, brown-headed gulls, Eurasian coots, and even ducks, geese and swans in this delta. Several species of mammals are also present in this delta in small and scattered populations. Asian elephants have decreased over the years, but tourists can still see them in their natural habitat at the delta. The southern part of the delta was dominated by saltwater crocodiles but like the elephants, the species have ceased in number and only a small population remains. Apart from that, tourists can easily find the Malayan sambar deer, Indian hog deer and wild boars in reserved forests as these species flock the area. Other species that could be spotted in the delta include leopards, Bengal tigers, macaques, and even sea turtles.
HOME OF IRRAWADDY DOLPHINS
The dolphins are named after Ayeyarwady’s less-known name, ‘Irrawady’. These dolphins are known to have a unique mutual relationship with fishers in the river. They would drive fish into fishers’ nets and be rewarded with some of the catch. This rare cooperation between dolphins and humans always leaves visitors in awe. Myanmar is one of the few countries that house the Irrawady dolphins and the country has extended its efforts to protect the species, including launching a community-based tourism initiative. Activities in the programme include dolphin observations, boat trips, village tours, net-casting, and wildlife tours. As tourists observe how the locals fish with traditional fishing methods, the fishers would drum the side of their canoe to call out to the dolphins. The dolphins would come over and help them gather fish into the nets as well as surprise tourists with a playful, leisure swim around the area.
The region is also known for its scenic beaches and resorts. The combination of pristine seawater, sandy beaches and sea breeze provides a great holiday for those who love spending time at the beach. The charming beaches are also a great resting spot for those who wish to take some time off their work. Ayeyarwady has a popular resort that offers one of the best beach experiences in the country with multiple exciting activities for visitors of all ages. The beaches attract even the locals from other states and regions to enjoy comfortable stays in the resorts. The area is full with tourists who love to indulge in scrumptious meals while watching the sunset on the panoramic beach. Beach-goers can look forward to visiting more beaches in the region as the Government of Myanmar is exploring more beaches to boost the tourism industry. Less-known and secluded beaches will soon be connected to more common areas of the region. By adding electricity supplies along with bridges and roads, these untouched beaches will also be accessible by locals and tourists. Tourists can anticipate more luxurious guest houses and affordable hotel stays in these new areas.
Ngwe Saung Beach Tourists who love the beach would want to spend a few nights at Ngwe Saung Beach Resort. The resort is known to provide one of the best beach experiences in Myanmar. The crystal clear water tempts visitors to swim in the sea and take part in a variety of water activities available in the huge area that stretches as far as 15 kilometres.
Chaung Tha Beach The beach is situated 40 kilometres west of Pathein and can be reached by a 5-hour drive from Yangon. Coconut and casuarina trees decorate the quaint beach, providing a soothing view for tourists who are there to enjoy the sea breeze. Tourists also flock the area to indulge in fresh and cheap delicacies as there are fishing villages nearby that could provide freshly caught seafood.
Pathein The capital city of Ayeyarwady was once populated with many Arabic and Indian traders. The name ‘Pathein’ is said to be derived from the word ‘Pathi’ which means ‘Muslim’ in Myanmarese. Tourists can travel around the city by bus, train and even boat. The picturesque waterfront and Buddhist temples invite tourists to visit the peaceful town. They can also learn how to make umbrellas in workshops.
Mawtinson Pagoda Cape Mawtin that houses the Mawtinson Pagoda is a famous site for festivals between February and March. The pagoda that could be found on the seaside is accompanied by the breathtaking view of the sandy beach. The pagoda is water-logged most of the time, making it look like it is floating on the sea. The water surprisingly only subsides during festive months.
Shwemokhtaw Pagoda or the ‘Golden God Temple’ is situated in Pathein. The Buddha statue in the pagoda is highly respected by devotees. It is said that the pagoda was first built by King Asoka from India, followed by other kings who added more layers later on. The layers are made of gold, silver, bronze and precious stones, and all of them are still intact today.
Pyi Taw Pyan The pagoda is named “Pyi Taw Pyan” which literally means “returned home from abroad”. When the bronze Buddha image was taken to England during the British colonisation, the Queen is said to have frequent headaches and nightmares. However, she recovered as soon as the image was sent back to Myanmar. The place is now frequently visited by tourists eager to see the pagoda and Buddha.
Meinmahla Kyun was heavily affected by Cyclone Nargis in 2008 but has since been transformed into a mangrove ecosystem reserve that aims to provide a protective barrier against natural disasters. The area is covered by many mangrove trees. It is famous as a bird-watching site among bird-watchers. Tourists can also see saltwater crocodiles that are exclusively available in the region.
Thingyan Festival: Greatly valued by the people of Myanmar, the Thingyan Festival has locals and tourists gather to welcome Myanmar’s new year together. Every April, people would welcome the new year by warding off any evil from the past year. They do so by throwing water on themselves. creating a fun water festival for everyone to enjoy in the hot summer.
Tabodwe Full Moon Day: Magha Puja, or Tabodwe Full Moon Day is a festival where Buddhist devotees would practise good deeds to gain merits. During this festival, Buddhists will donate necessities to monks and nuns and participate in a Patthana (Buddhist scripture) recitation that lasts up to hours and even days.
Thadingyut Festival: People light up the streets and buildings with lightbulbs and candles for three days at this festival as a symbol to welcome the Buddha’s return from heaven. The beautiful arrangement of lights represents the stairways used by Lord Buddha when he descended down to the mortal world.