Myanmar, which was previously known as Burma, has an incredible selection of Buddhist constructs, ranging from buildings to artwork. Myanmar, surprisingly, is one of the least travelled nations in the world, despite its rich culture, fascinating history and picturesque landscapes.
Myanmar’s culture is influenced by a combination of various elements, including western elements from prior British colonial rule. Burmese cuisine, unlike a lot of other Asian countries, doesn’t focus on rice, but more on seafood, and uses many fish products in the cooking process. The art of Myanmar has developed quite rapidly since the 1980s and performance art is very popular among young artists.
Myanmar is home to a plethora of different terrains and landscapes, with vast jungles, towering mountains and shimmering rivers. There is always something to do in Myanmar, from exploring the forests on elephant back, to climbing the mountains, searching for that incredible view at the peak. There’s an adventure for every traveller.
- Country full name: Republic of the Union of Myanmar
- Area: 678,500 km²
- Population: 56 million, Burma people and other ethnic minorities
- Capital City: Naypyidaw, about 925,000 people
- Commercial City: Yangon, about 5,22 million people
- National Language: Burmese
- Religion: Buddhism (80%)
- National flower: The Paduak (Pterocarpus Indicus)
- Currency: Myanmar Kyat (MMK)
- International Dialing Code: +95
Myanmar lies in the monsoon region of Asia continent making its climate tropical monsoon with 3 seasons: rain, hot and cool. It is highly recommended that travelers should visit Myanmar from Nov- Feb as it is the start of cool season. The hot season is from Mar-May and rainy season is from Jun-Oct
Life style and cultural differences:
Greetings: Smiling is the common greeting custom in Myanmar. Sinciput is considered the most respected part of a Burmese, others are not allowed to touch even it is a little child.
Communication: Due to several reasons, about 30%-50% of Burmese women in big city have not married yet, Hence in communication, do not ask them about marriage status (husband, children…)
The taboos: Travelers should remember some taboos below to avoid unexpected misunderstandings when travelling to Myanmar:
- Do not wear hat, t-shirt or short clothes visiting pagodas. Women are not allowed to step in or stand near to the altars in some specific places in the pagodas hence women need to get advices from tour guide or Buddhist monk in advance. Also, do not wear shoes and socks stepping into pagodas, travelers should do this right at the entrance gate. Hence, wet tissues need to be prepared to clean feet before taking shoes again.
- Do not touch or say disrespectfully to Buddhist monks, this is unacceptable in the country which Buddhism is national religion and monk population is higher than military troop.
- Do not rudely laugh upon seeing Burmese men wearing strapless long dress “longyi” without wearing underwear as it is their custom. Burmese men even joke that “it is like a free air conditioner” and feel very comfortable when the weather is 40oC hot.
- Do not use your left hand to eat or drink, it must be your right one. Left hand in Myanmar culture is not clean.
- Do not exchange currencies at the markets, retail jewel shops… because currency trading in Myanmar are not allowed and strictly controlled by the state. Failure to do so, you may be arrested to police station. If you need to change currency, you should better go to the bank.
ATM: Please remember to bring much cash with you when traveling to Myanmar and make sure cash are not crinkled, torn or any special signal on otherwise it is not accepted by the locals while there are a few ATM here, credit cards are only accepted in 5 star hotel and big branded shops.
Funnies: How to say some simple Burmese words / sentences or learn more at https://wikitravel.org/en/Burmese_phrasebook
- 04 Jan, Independent day, Celebration the date in 1948 when Myanmar proclaimed its independence from Britain
- 12 Feb, Union Day, Celebrate the date in 1947 when the Panglong Agreement was signed and passed and Burma became a unified country.
- 02 Mar, Peasants' Day,The holiday is a day to mark and honour the contribution of agriculture and farming to Myanmar.
- 12-16 Apr, Thingyan Holidays, Water Festival
- 17-20 Apr, Burmese New Year, Burmese New Year holidays
- 01 May, May Day, International labour day
- 21 May, Vesak day, Buddhism festival to celebrate Sakyamuni’s date birth 24 Nov, National day, Anniversary of the first university students strike in 1920.
- 25 Dec, Christmas, Global Christmas day