This week we will tell you what it looks like for Burma to be “back on the map” and about the importance of being mindful of Bagan’s cultural heritage. You will learn what can happen to tourists who join peaceful protests in Burma and we have good news about the Irrawaddy Dolphins, which you may also remember from one of our previous travel stories.
If you haven’t noticed yet: Burma is back on the map. Of course, it has never stopped existing but visitors’ numbers have increased tremendously this year. And there are new challenges in coping with such an influx of tourists.
While tourist infrastructure and hotels are still overflowing, transport networks have been greatly improved and new services have been launched to give travelers the opportunity to visit more of the upcountry locations. “Direct routes now link the major tourist sights, and a new highway joins Yangon and Mandalay via the new capital of Nay Pyi Daw.”
Nevertheless, as this article rightly points out, “several factors generally combine to keep travelers in the central core of the country, [with] stringent requirements for permits to visit outlying areas”. For example, there is the ongoing civil unrest in the Rahkine State. There, as well as in other areas, outbreaks of violence may arise from discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities and this may affect Burma’s democratic transition.
Another challenge involves transparency of tourism industry in Myanmar. It is still very uncertain who really benefits from tourism. However, as this article acknowledges, “many of those visitors who do choose to make the trip are acutely aware that their spending could fall into the hands of the generals or their cronies”. It seems that perhaps travelers are becoming more sensitive to responsible tourism.
We encourage you to explore the rest of the article. It gives some very interesting and useful travel tips for the major destinations in Myanmar such as Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake.
Bagan Struggling with Tourist Influx
The terraces of five more of Bagan’s ancient temples have been opened in response to major influx of tourists. However, “Visitors to the temples must abide by rules and regulations designed to prevent erosion of the temples’ structures, including restrictions on visitor numbers”. We can however wonder, who will enforce the rules of good behavior.
The objective to preserve the fragile beauty of Bagan’s cultural heritage should also be managed by tour guides. According to this article, tour guides should foster respect for local cultural traditions and “be more sensitive to national culture and set good examples to foreign visitors.”
Tourists visiting Bagan’s ancient pagodas and temples should be respectful towards people, traditions and heritage. To assist with setting some basic rules and regulations and in response to recent protests by local people drawing attention to incidents of “temple dinners” for tourists within the sacred temple areas, “three dining areas have been selected for tourists to dine outside the temples.” The selected sites are located at the southern side of the Golden Palace, the northwestern side of the Dhammayangyi Temple, and O-htein Gone.
French Tourist Arrested
“Burmese authorities arrest French peace marcher.” The Frenchman was arrested in Taungoo while he was participating in a peace march to protest against the ongoing conflict between Burmese government and Kachin rebels. The article was not able to provide more information on the man’s identity and the French Embassy was not available for comments.
Return of the Dolphins
Finally, here is a slice of surprising news: “Irrawaddy dolphins returned to Mingun after 10-year absence”. This unexpected migration of a group of rare and endangered dolphins could be “the result of falling water levels or the migration of fish – the dolphin’s main food source – from downstream.” Usually, the dolphins stay in the Irrawaddy Dolphin Protected in the Ayeyarwady River between Mingun and Kyaukmyaung. If you plan to journey to the area in the near future, enjoy this rare and enchanting experience. Meanwhile do not forget to read one of our amazing travel stories on Irrawaddy dolphins.
Before You Go
Last but not least, this travels check list can be very useful if you are planning your next Burma trip.