Dos and Don’ts for Travelers in Myanmar

Myanmar is a Theravada Buddhist country, which is well known as The Golden Land as well as the Land of Pagodas. To visit Myanmar, tourist should know the behaviours, norms, and traditions in public and religious monuments.

Be Kind, Polite, and Smile

The local people in Myanmar are friendly, helpful, and polite and their characteristics are kind and trustworthy. Every time and everywhere, they are always willing to offer you a help. A smile can really do you no harm. Therefore, smile when you see local people. A smile from international tourists may brighten up both their and the locals’ day.

Learn Basic Words in Burma

Learn a few basic words from the local language and use them as much as you can. These words are very helpful in the fostering goodwill when you travel in Myanmar:

To say “Hello,” say Mingalabar (pronounced as Ming-Gah-La-Bar)

To say “Thank you,” say Chesube (pronounced as Kyay-Soo-Bal)

And, whenever you address people, don’t miss “U” (pronounced as Oo) (instead of using “Mr”) and “Daw” (instead of using “Ms/Mrs”). Slowly and clearly speaking is better. But no matter your pronunciation is clear or not, they can understand and will not mind you.

Mind Your Manners and Body Language

  • Never step over any part of a person! It’s a rude manner for Myanmar.
  • Beware of pointing with your foot. It means disrespect to others.
  • Avoid touching any adult on the head. It’s considered aggressive.
  • Don’t hug or kiss in public! Tourists should avoid displaying physical closeness in public areas. Close physical contact will cause awkwardness and unpleasantness in front of Burmese.
  • Use your right hand to accept or give things.
  • In Myanmar, nodding means “Yes” and shaking head means “No.”
  • Avoid touching Myanmar’s woman on any part of her body.

Respect Myanmar’s Religious Customs and Unique Traditions

Most Burmese are devout Buddhists. When you visit to religious places,

  • remove your footwear,
  • treat Buddha images, monks, nuns, and novices (even if they are children) with respect, and
  • avoid offering your hand to shake hands with a monk,
  • sit lower than a monk and elders.

Don’t stretch out your legs, and your feet should never face the Buddha.

Moreover, a woman should not touch a monk.

Wear decent clothes and cover your shoulders and knees as much as you can when entering pagoda areas.

Don’t donate food to a monk, nun, or a novice afternoon time.

Enjoy the Festivals and Cultures

Many enjoyable festivals are in Myanmar. Myanmar people enjoy when their guests take part in their festivals. It can make them happy as well as their traditions. They will definitely love you if you try wearing Myanmar traditional costumes, like longyi (for women) and Pasu (for men).

Try wearing Thanakha makeup. Thanakha comes from Thanakha tree bank and is an effective sunblock. Mostly, Myanmar women like and lovely paint on their cheeks and nose.

Try traditional foods like Mohinkha, Monti, and some other snacks. You’ll love it.Please follow Myanmar laws and don’t visit restricted areas.

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