Do and Don’ts in Myanmar
Courtesy and respect for tradition and religion are expected. The Burmese appreciate the effort of your trying to observe their way of living. We should understand clearly the dos & don'ts in Myanmar before traveling to this country.
If you happen to be one of the visitors to the land of Golden Pagodas, there are some things you should know about the customs and beliefs of the Myanmar people that will go a long way toward making your stay more pleasant. Courtesy and respect for tradition and religion are expected.
1. What we should "Dos" when traveling to Myanmar
- Respect the Myanmar people and their unique traditions. Most Burmese are devout Buddhists, and while they will not impose their beliefs on visitors, they will expect you to pay due respect to their traditional practices. The Burmese appreciate the effort of your trying to observe their way of living.
- Respect the elders: Let the oldest be served first, and bend a bit when crossing close in front of the elders.
- Always smile. The Myanmar people are very friendly. A smile will brighten up everyone’s day.
- Keep your hands off people's heads; touching other people's heads is considered the height of disrespect, something to avoid doing even to children.
- Dress should be modest, so both men and women should avoid shorts cut above the knee (a few local men wear shorts, but really long trousers are more appropriate if you can tolerate them in the heat). Mini-skirts and tight or revealing clothing should not be worn.
Please dress modestly to religious sites
- Shoes and socks must be removed before entering any religious building and it is customary to remove shoes before entering a traditional home (in modern residences this may not be observed any longer except in bedrooms).
- When sitting, avoid pointing the soles of the feet towards people or in the direction of Buddha images as this is considered offensive.
- Always ask permission before taking a shot of locals. Myanmar people are generally friendly and accepting of having their picture taken, but it is polite to first ask, or have your guide ask. Taking pictures of meditating monks is considered very disrespectful.
- To maintain Myanmar’s unique heritage, do not buy antiques. Buy arts and crafts instead.
- Help protect Myanmar wildlife by refusing to purchase wildlife products: The illegal selling of wildlife endangers the species native to Myanmar. Tourists should not buy these products.
- Visitors could set a good example by collecting their rubbish and educating Myanmar people about environmental responsibility.
2. What we should "Don’ts" when traveling to Myanmar
- Don’t show affection in public. Myanmar is still a conservative country, and the locals may be offended by public displays of affection. So when traveling with a loved one, no hugs and kisses in public
- Don’t touch the robe of a monk. Monks are very revered; they observe many rules, study the Dhamma, practice meditation, and are highly respected in Myanmar society. Visitors should never touch the robe of a monk, not even if they see a worm crawling up his robe.
- Don’t disturb people praying or meditating. Visitors should avoid loud talk and should take care not to touch people meditating.
- The Myanmar people are generally quiet, calm people. Loud behavior (especially in anger) is unacceptable. It is best to keep voices at a low level when conversing in a restaurant or other public place.
- Do not step over the body of anyone else. But if you must, always ask to be excused first.
- Giving money or sweets to children is not advisable: Instead of creating children’s dependency on tourism, visitors should consider the saying: "Don’t give a helpless person a fish, teach them how to catch a fish and they will learn for a lifetime”.
- The use of any kind of drugs is illegal.
Overall, by paying attention to these "dos and don'ts" during your travel to Myanmar, your travel to this beautiful country will be much more memorable.
You may also like: A Guide To Plan Your Trip To Myanmar
Image sources: Internet