Dos and Don'ts in Myanmar

Typical Character

Friendly, helpful, honest, but proud. Treat everyone with respect and you will be respected.

Speaking

When addressing people, don't leave out U (which stands for Mr) or Daw (which stands for Ms/Mrs). Speak slowly and clearly.

Manners

Not always necessary to shake hands. Don't hug or kiss in public. Don't touch any adult on the head. Don't step over any part of a person, as it is considered rude. Accept or give things with your right hand. In Myanmar, unlike the Indian continent, nodding means YES, and shaking head means NO.

Eating

For hygiene reasons, eat only in decent restaurants. When not available, always eat heated food. Donít eat food purchased from street vendors. Don't drink tap water. Drink only bottled water and soft drinks that haven't been opened yet. Let the oldest be served first. Chinese food is common and suggested. Myanmar food are often complained as 'oily'. To try good Myanmar food, go to decent restaurants in Yangon area, where they cook Myanmar food according to international standards.

Shopping

When buying gems, sculptures, or any expensive souvenir, make sure it comes with an export permit. Buy arts from authorized dealers only and get a certified receipt.

Safety

Don't leave expensive items in your room. Use safe deposit box. Beware of cheats, swindlers, imposters.

Health

Stay away from narcotic drugs. Carry some medicines for diarrhea. If sick, don't worry. All doctors are English literate. Health insurance is not available.

Traveling

Accept that facilities may not be the best. On trains, keep windows shut. Speed or distance descriptions are in miles, not kilometers. Carry toilet paper in your bag.

Visiting

Most Myanmar do not wear shoes in their homes. Take off when visiting.

Moving About

Don't jay walk. Watch where you walk and what you step on. If driving, city speed limit is 30 mph. Drive on the right side.

Religion

At religious places, remove footwear, but to remove headwear is not necessary. Avoid shouting or laughing. Avoid being a nuisance when taking photographs. Treat Buddha images with respect. Tuck away your feet. Don't point it toward the pagoda or a monk. Don't play loud music in these areas. Note that Buddhist monks are not allowed to listen to music. Do not put Buddha statues or images on the floor or somewhere inappropriate. Don't touch sacred objects with disrespect. Hold them in your right-hand, or with both hands. Leave a donation when possible. Show respect to monks, nuns, and novices (even if they are children). Don't offer your hand to shake hands with a monk. Sit lower than a monk and elders. Don't offer food to a monk, nun, or a novice after noon time. A woman should not touch a monk.

 

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