Bagan, also spelled Pagan, on the banks of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River in Myanmar, is home to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world with many dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. The shape and construction of each building is highly significant in Buddhism with each component part taking on spiritual meaning.
Perhaps in some ways, its lack of recognition as a World Heritage site has, so far, saved it from over popularity and mass tourism. However, all of that is surely about to change with the recent political advancements of the past year and, after decades of isolation, recognition by the U.S. and an ease on trade restrictions. Slowly, but surely, Myanmar is on a path to finally join the remainder of the Asian nations on its road to development and increasing wealth – although it may take two or more generations before it can catch up with its neighbors.
What these means for tourism however, is a rapid surge in popularity. Myanmar, suddenly, is safe and a ‘hot’ destination to visit. With its incredible sites, largely English speaking nationals, and wealth of culture and spirituality, it will be hard for Myanmar to resist the temptations to build its tourism industry fast and furiously. After decades of isolation and hardship it is hard to begrudge the country that.