Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in Myanmar, collected almost 500 million kyats in entrance fees from foreign visitors in the last six months. The pagoda sits on a large gilded boulder that is perched on top of a mountain in Kyite Hto Township, Mon State.
Foreign visitors to the ancient culture zone that included Kyaiktiyo are charged a 6,000 kyat entrance fee. Between October 16, 2016 and April 19, 2017, 82,953 foreigners visited the site, paying 497,718,000 kyats ($336,000), according to one of the site’s trustees, U Soe Hla.
“We had higher revenue at the ancient culture zone from foreign visitors than previous years because more foreigners visited. Each foreigner paid 6,000 kyats and all of that money went to the Mon State government,” he said.
Before November 2013 the Union Ministry of Culture collected entrance fees at Kyaiktiyo, but transferred that authority to the Mon State government’s municipal committee. As the number of foreign visitors has grown, entrance fees have become an important source of revenue for the state.
Admission to Kyaiktiyo is only charged to foreigners, but foreign monks and diplomats are exempted. The largest number of foreigners to visit in the last six months were from Thailand, with a significant number also from Vietnam, China, Japan, the United State and Europe, according to U Soe Hla, the trustee.
Kyaiktiyo collects the most entrance fees of any site in Mon State and has recently admitted more than 100,000 foreigners every year.