I visited Bagan in 2012 just after finishing some Phd fieldwork – it was just as Myanmar was opening up with the easing of sanctions, and while I was there at the low season and there were few tourists, I could sense the strain in the difficulty of getting hotel rooms!
Myanmar Tourism’s ‘Crown Jewel’ Feels Strains of Growth
The Irrawady, 31 March 2014
With several dozen A4-sized paintings weighed down with stones on the cobbled forecourt of the ShweguGyi pagoda, artist U Aung Aung offers visitors to the shrine an affordable souvenir of their visit—a commissioned painting of the temple for a fee of 10,000 kyat or less.
He and brother U SoeLwin run an impromptu gallery and art shop outside one of the bigger temples making up Bagan’s panoply of around 2,500 mostly red- and brown-bricked pagodas—a renowned tourist draw pulling in around 200,000 visitors in 2013, up from 160,000 the year before.
The brush-wielding brothers depend on the tourist season, which runs from around mid-November to mid-February, with numbers dropping sharply around March or April when temperatures in Bagan, situated on a river bend in Myanmar’s parched dry zone, hit toward 40°C (104°F).
Full story here.