DOs and DON’Ts
When visiting Myanmar, there are some customs and beliefs that travelers should be aware of before coming to the country in order to avoid offending any of the locals.
Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind whilst visiting:
1. Respect the Myanmar people and their unique traditions: Visitors are not asked to abandon their ways, they are asked to adapt to the Myanmar environment.
2. Respect the elders: Let the oldest be served first, and bend a bit when crossing close in front of the elders.
3. Wear decent clothes when visiting religious sites: Please cover your shoulders and knees, and take off your shoes and socks when entering pagoda areas.
4. Offer articles with both hands. Seek permission on retrieving an article above a person’s head.
5. Keep the feet on the ground: Do tuck away your feet, when you sit, your legs should not be stretched out and your feet should never face the Buddha.
6. To maintain Myanmar’s unique heritage, do not buy antiques. Buy arts and crafts instead: Myanmar loses its heritage every.
7. 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.
8. Myanmar currency should be exchanged at the official exchange counters and banks, not on the black market.
1. Don’t sit with back against Buddha Image. Don’t handle Buddha Images or sacred object with disrespect. Don’t keep Buddha Images or sacred objects in inappropriate places.
2. Don’t offer to shake hands with a monk. Women should not touch a monk.
3. Don’t step on others shadow or any part of their bodies. Don’t point a finger straight in others’ faces. Don’t point with your foot: In Myanmar the feet convey messages. Pointing with your feet means disrespect.
4. Don’t touch anybody on the head: The head is the most esteemed part of the body. To be touched on the head is considered aggressive.
5. Don’t touch a woman on any part of her body.
6. Don’t gamble. Don’t use drugs. Using drugs is illegal in Myanmar.
7. Don’t go where you are advised not to go: Myanmar is slowly opening up and more destinations will be accessible to foreigners in the future.
8. Don’t kiss in public: Displaying physical closeness in public places is frowned upon in Myanmar.
9. Don’t disturb people praying or meditating: Visitors should avoid loud talk and should take care not to touch people meditating.
10. Calling with your finger up means calling for a challenge: Calling someone with your fingers down is considered polite.
11. 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.
12. 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”.