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Burma (Myanmar)

Traditions & Customs

Traditions & Customs

Modest clothing is very popular everywhere, except in nightclubs, and is practically necessary in religious places such as pagodas, temples and monasteries (of which there are thousands). Mini skirts, shorts and sleeveless shirts are not allowed in consecrated areas, where shoes must also be removed, so it is preferable moccasins and flip flops that can be put on and removed at the entrance. Myanmar has some of the most impressive temples in Asia and will be tempted to visit more than you think.

In general, Burmese are not publicly affectionate, even among married couples, and are generally considered unpleasant and should be avoided.

Both men and women wear a longyi, a kind of sarong that is sold everywhere, and it is not uncommon to see Caucasian foreigners walking in them. They are wrapped in different ways for men and women, so find out how to tie yours. If you show up at a temple with inappropriate dress, you can always rent a longyi for a pittance.

When receiving business cards, use your left hand to support your right elbow and receive it with your right hand.

Tourists of Caucasian descent are commonly known as bo, which translates as "official," a linguistic relic of colonization. Go to the elders with U (pronounced "oo," as in short) or "Uncle" for men, and Daw or "Aunt" for women.

In general terms, despite the common negative perception of the government, most ordinary Burmese are incredibly friendly and kind, as long as you respect their local customs. The customer service is generally very good (some say it is better than in Thailand), but the customer service staff is invariably underpaid, so you may want to tip the service staff generously to ensure that your money reach the right hands.


Similar to neighboring Thailand, you will often see monks collecting alms in the streets in the morning (they are not allowed to eat after noon). Buddhism is taken very seriously in Myanmar, and it is common for Burmese men to spend time living as monks at least once in their childhood and once again in adulthood. Their customs are similar to those of the monks in Thailand. In particular, they are not allowed to come into physical contact with the opposite sex, so women should be careful not to touch their hands if they offer a donation. Also, monks can not touch money either. If you want to donate to a monk, you should only offer food, since offering money to a monk is considered disrespectful in the local culture. The donations to the monks have to be spontaneous, and the monks are forbidden to approach the people to ask for alms, and they do not meet in the tourist areas, waiting for donations from tourists. If you see a monk accepting monetary donations, or hanging out in popular tourist places waiting for donations, it is false.

Avoid t-shirts with Buddhas images or Buddhist images, which are considered highly disrespectful. People forgive him, but one should not seem more foolish than necessary.

Offer generously in temples and monasteries, but women are not allowed to enter some sacred areas; in fact, the restriction should only cover women in menstruation, but since it would be rude to ask for it and unthinkable to verify it, they keep all women at bay. Remember that monks are not allowed to touch money, therefore, all donations from the temple should be placed in the boxes designated for the donation of the temple, and not offered directly to the monks.

You can also buy small squares of gold leaf to apply to the consecrated statues.

When praying or paying your respects, it is important to make sure that the "feet" * of your feet do not point towards the Buddha or another person. However, the statues are arranged so that they do not happen unless you acrobatic about it. Put your feet underneath you when you kneel in shrines and temples.

Swastikas are commonly seen in Buddhist temples and are considered a religious symbol. They do not represent Nazism or anti-Semitism.

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Burma (Myanmar) - Travel guide