Myanmar: Govt to ban tourists from climbing pagodas in Bagan

Tourists climb the Shwesandaw pagoda, a landmark in Bagan. Source: Shutterstock/Thanachet Maviang

BURMA’S Culture Ministry will ban tourists from climbing ancient pagodas to protect the monuments and aid in its bid to score Bagan the status of Unesco World Heritage Site by 2019.

Tourists often scale the iconic temples to get a better view of the landscape and hot air balloons sailing across the sky, and the experience of climbing a pagoda to get a sun-drenched view of the landscape has become somewhat ubiquitous in Bagan. However, it could cause damage to the temples in the long-term.

A similar ban was implemented last year, but was quickly abolished after tourism operators expressed it would be bad for business.

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The ministry said after last year’s ban:

“Bagan’s ancient buildings have been there for many years and we are concerned about damaging the pagodas and the danger of hurting people.”

Meanwhile, the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi said in January this year a ban on sunset-viewing from pagodas must be carried out to ensure “long-term sustainability” of the structures.

To compensate, the government is planning to implement more look-out points and encourage more hot air balloon rides.

As it is, poor structures have damaged national heritage sites in Bagan. A 6.8-magnitude earthquake which rocked the area last year damaged dozens of temples and many had been covered with scaffolding to prevent further damage.

SEE ALSO: How Myanmar’s recent earthquake put Bagan on the tourist map