Tourists disappointed with the closing of temples in Bagan

25 July 2019
Tourists disappointed with the closing of temples in Bagan
A half-collapsed pagoda stands in Bagan. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

After listing Bagan as the UNESCO World Heritage Site this month, the temples are completely restricted to walk and climb up for environmental and cultural heritage preservation. More guards are staying in different monument sites to stop people from climbing up. While locals feel grateful for this, some tourists are sad with it.

Referring to the Department of Archaeology and National Museums, there are more than 3500 temples, monuments, monasteries and fortifications in Bagan. However, many structures and sites were wrecked during a serious earthquake in 2016. Since then, most of the sites are under reconstruction and are not allowed to climb on.

“These temples represent our history and culture. The visiting of tourists destroys the structure and traditional writings in the temples. The sublime landscape and sites should be conserved for generations,” Kuang Het Hein, a local living in Nyaung OO, said. 

For the tourists, Bagan has always been the top-listed city in Myanmar with the sceneries of hot-air balloons and temples. Although travellers can still go into the sites, they can’t walk to the top. 
“Watching the magnificent sunrise and sunset views is my greatest expectation in Bagan. I have driven around the temples for 3 days to search for a good spot with a brilliant view, but there are no temples allowing people to climb up at all. It’s really frustrating news for tourists,” William Wright, an American traveller, expressed his disappointment. 

Bagan is famous for the beauty of sunrise with the view of temples. Many companies provide tour from sunrise to sunset. Notwithstanding, William emphasized that visitors could only watch and capture these picturesque sceneries from the postcards. It is probably a disadvantage for tourism in Bagan.

Still, it’s understandable that the temples are closed for preservation and long-term viability. The destruction brought by the earthquake and frequent climbing of tourists can never be estimated. 

“It’s better to have the temples preserved than to let it collapse in a few years with continual climbing. So, the government should offer alternatives to viewing spots,” Abbie Pratt, a foreign visitor, said.

Currently, Nann Myint Viewing Tower, which is the highest spot to watch the whole view of Bagan, charges visitors $5USD as entrance fee. Also, few man-made hills are found within the archaeological zones as superb places to watch sunrise and sunset. In light of this, some hope that higher and more man-made hills can be constructed.