I've recently heard about sky burial tourism, and I've got a couple of questions about it.

Has it been banned in China? I recently retweeted someone tweeting about sky burial tourism by Chinese tourists, and if reports of its subsequent banning are true, I ought to acknowledge that. Unless it's one of those fake bans which aren't enforced that governments do when they want to stop people complaining.

Is sky burial tourism available in Mongolia (the country, not the region of China)? I tried searching for info on sky burial tourism in Mongolia, but I typically get hits talking about sky burial tourism happening in Tibet that explain that sky burial also happens in inner Mongolia and Mongolia itself.

Are local people in the ethnic groups that practice sky burial usually ok with sky burial tourism? I came across one anecdote of a family of a deceased person inviting the tourist to sit with them and even take photos, but I've heard elsewhere allegations that local people aren't happy with it. Wikipedia doesn't have info much info on tourism in its sky burial article, and Wikivoyage has only a handful of sentences throughout the site mentioning sky burial tourism.

  • 6
    +1 on the one hand, sky burials are fascinating, on the other hand, any form of funeral tourism feels like voyeur tourism at its worst... Jan 21, 2016 at 12:26

1 Answer 1


Let's start with your first question - Has it been banned in China?

A: China has tried to ban them, but some people keep doing it anyway.

A year ago, the Chinese government sought again to ban these burials as tourist sites — this is legislative stuff that apparently doesn’t stick. Over the years, there have been gaps in this protection. But now Tibetans are allowed to regulate sky burials, yet some tour guides and adventure junkies don’t give a good goddamn and continue to return.

Can It Be Done In Mongolia?

A: As you said, it's very hard to distinguish between information for Mongolia and the Mongolia region. This information may help, Why Sky Burials Are Vanishing in Mongolia - suggesting that this activity is decreasing.

Are local people in the ethnic groups that practice sky burial usually ok with sky burial tourism?

A: There are mixed opinions on this - some will welcome you with open arms, while others are just not happy. Hopefully this explains the difference generally in attitudes;

Western attitudes toward death are vastly different from Eastern, especially Tibetan. Most Tibetans are Buddhist, which has a strong focus on the teachings of impermanence, expecially of the body. Tibetans understand that death is a natural and normal thing, inevitable for all of us. In Western society however, we keep our elderly and dying on life support, respirators, all manner of medications, just to stave off death for a little longer, instead of understanding that it is natural and a part of being a human on this planet. We will do anything to avoid death, and even after death, we pump the bodies formerly occupied by our loved ones full of chemicals in order to mimic the appearance of life. Death to a Westerner is something evil, horrible, and ultimately terribly unpleasant- we live in a culture that does everything it can to deny human mortality. To Tibetans, death is very much the opposite, just as natural as birth, and not something to treat as the end of the world.


Because of these mixes in opinions, those who practise sky burial may not welcome tourists to do the same.

It's an odd topic to try and find information on - but hopefully this may give you some leads.

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