When visiting a foreign country, you may realize that there are often customs that are completely unknown or even strange. It is also the case of Myanmar which undoubtedly has culture completely different from ours. There are some rules and customs in Myanmar which you will find not very serious but can cause much inconvenience if you do not follow during your Myanmar holidays.
The customs of Burmese society
In terms of social relations and what can and cannot be done, it is advisable to be provided with this information before your travel Burma. Even when there are things you still cannot do after several attempts, it will certainly please your interlocutors to see that you are trying.
What you need to do:
If you have to bother someone without doing it on purpose, say “gadows” twice to ask for forgiveness
Try to control your anger
When entering a room, greet people in descending order according to their age
Do not hesitate to smile and show friendliness with your neighbors
At the table, people eat with their right hands. Try to do the same!
f you enter a house, Burmese politeness wants you to remove your shoes at the entry
What you should not do:
Do not borrow anything from a guest
Do not brag
If you need to give something to an older person, do it with both hands
It is inappropriate to talk about money, especially salary
Travelling in Burma: Buddhist customs
Burmese culture is strongly influenced by Buddhism, the national religion practiced by 90% population of the country. In Burma temples, you will be asked to remove your shoes and socks before entering. You will also need to wear proper clothes, especially including long and non-transparent clothing. Similarly, Buddha representations are sacred objects and you are not allowed to stand facing them or point your feet towards it.
Considering Buddhist monks, when you speak to them, try to make sure your head is at a lower level of theirs. Women should avoid touching or stretching objects directly. In buses or trains, people get up to give way to the monk.
Stay in Burma: respect the law
During your Myanmar trip, even if the population is tolerant toward foreign visitors, you will be expected to respect the Burmese law.
The first rules in Myanmar is to pay considerable respect Buddha. The Burmese regarded Buddha as a sacred and highly respected figure. The Penal Code includes articles imposing sentences of up to 4 years’ imprisonment for “insulting religion” or “offending the religious feelings of others”. This law is applicable to everyone even foreigners therefore, act properly during your Myanmar vacation.
When shopping, pay attention to what you buy, especially if it is rare or old items which could be a national treasure or of archaeological importance. Avoid buying ivory or animal skin objects, which means helping the government fight this illegal trade.
If you buy art or antique items, ask for a certificate of authenticity. Also remember that antiquities of a religious nature cannot be legally move out from the country.
Finally, in terms of Myanmar law enforcement and personal safety, do not enter the prohibited areas. There are still some and territories which are forbidden to tourists for various reasons: ethnic settlement, religious conflicts or underdeveloped areas. The richness of Burma lies in its culture which is so different from that of the West but varied and exciting. With a minimum of preparation, you can spend great holidays in Burma by learning Burma customs.