In May, the board of trustees of Shwedagon pagoda- Yangon most famous monument- announced to increase the entrance fees from K 8,000 (US$5.85) to K 10,000 (US$7.30)from June 1. However, at the end of May, the archeology department indicated that any increase should be reported at least six months ahead before to be implemented.
“This is not only applicable to the Shwedagon pagoda but also for all things happening in the country. A discussion must be made with the stakeholders involved first before making a final decision on policy. It is very important,” Daw May Myat Mon Win, vice chairman of Myanmar Tourism Federation told The Myanmar Times. The grace period is necessary for tour operators to adjust their prices in the packages. Prices for packages are generally set a year in advance from one business season to the next.
The Union of Myanmar Travel Association, UMTA submitted to the ministry of religious affairs and culture that notice of six months should be systematically given for any price change according to a press release on May 31 by UMTA. However, with most packages now been presented and sold on line, tour operators are able to adjust quicker than in the past. Especially as most travellers do their booking only 30 to 45 days before departure. Whatever the debates about the reactivity of UMTA members, the grace period has already been approved.
In 2016, more than 600,000 foreign visitors visited Shwedagon pagoda generating Kip 5 billion (equivalent to US$3.5 million) and over $1, 700 as entrance fees, according to a release by Shwedagon pagoda’s trustees. From the end of January to the end of April, over 250,000 tourists already visited Yangon most famous monument with top visitors being Thais, Chinese, Germans and French.
Fees in Kyat were introduced back to 2014 but previously foreign visitors had to pay the entrance in US dollars.
The 2,500 years old Shwedagon Pagoda, which enshrines strands of Buddha’s hair and other holy relics, is located on Singuttara Hill, west of the Royal Lake. YThe Shwedagon Pagoda today stands close to 110 meters. The monument has 69 pagodas including the main stupa and four small pagodas located at the four cardinal points.
Shwedagon is literally an architectural “jewel”. The lower stupa is covered plated with 8,688 solid gold bars, the upper part with another 13,153. The tip of the stupa, far too high for the human eye to discern in any detail, is set with 5, 448 diamonds, 2,317 rubies, sapphires, and other gems, 1, 065 golden bells and, at the very top, a single 76-carat diamond!