Dos and Donts 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.
  • Don’t 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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