World Heritage Site Etiquette

Every World Heritage site you visit will have general rules for your behaviour whilst visiting the site, but what is culturally appropriate and what is not?


Behaving appropriately at any World Heritage site all boils down to respect. Respect of the place and respect of the peoples. High levels of visitation, recreational activities, illegal activities and deliberate destruction of heritage are some of the primary threats to the conservation of heritage sites.

Appreciate the Site

Be wary of destruction, deliberate or not. If you can touch, make sure your hands are clean. If you are taking photos of art or other delicate artefacts, make sure you have your flash off. Do not under any circumstances graffiti or vandalise the site. Throw your rubbish and other waste in the bin, and use the facilities provided. Make sure you are aware of the rules about standing or sitting on culturally, naturally or archaeologically significant artefacts and monuments.

Regard the Law

You must regard the law relating to cultural heritage sites. This includes no poaching, hunting or other extraction of biological resources; no blast or cyanide fishing; no extraction of geological resources including mining of fossils; no looting or stealing; no treasure hunting and excavation of sites without permission; and no camping, occupying or building at these sites without permission. Any of these acts can result in criminal charges.

Regard the Rules

The first thing you need to remember is follow the rules and regulations for each site. All World Heritage sites have their own website and if in doubt – check the UNESCO website. These rules are in place to protect and preserve the sites. They are also there to help you show respect to the cultural values the traditional people have a that site.

Bangkok Museum

 The most important thing you should remember when visiting World Heritage sites is to learn, explore and enjoy yourself.

11 Replies to “Showing Courtesy at World Heritage Sites”

  1. Excellent, creative post! It is a challenge to balance tourism at he sites and preserve them. People that visit should do their part to preserve the site, or at least take nothing away from it.

    1. Thank you! This is one of my main educate people on why these sites are so significant, and why there are so many things they should consider when visiting. As I said in my post though, it all boils down to respect; respect of the place itself, respect of the people and the country, and respect of the history.

    1. I especially dislike when people graffiti by carving their names or drawing pictures and whatnot… Even at places like national parks… You would think people would have more respect.

  2. I can totally relate to this post. At the end of last year while visiting the Mỹ Sơn temple in central Vietnam I witnessed 4 French tourists climbing and jumping on the already half ruined temples (reported to be 1000+years old) for photos. Luckily their tour guide gave them an ear bashing sorted them out before they did any damage. Yet when visiting a world heritage site you would assume fully grown adults wouldn’t need to be educated on this type of etiquette.

    1. It really does amaze me, the amount of grown adults acting so disrespectfully toward world heritage..and not just world heritage but also different cultures. And the saddest part is that I have come to expect that of people…

  3. Valid points, it’s honestly so sad that a large majority of people will not or do not following these simple rules!

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