The mystical country of Myanmar has opened its doors to international tourists and travelers only recently. It had remained insulated from international cultural influx for the longest time. As a result, it now has to come to terms with travelers from all across the globe who have little or no idea of its inherent culture and traditions.
If you are planning a trip to Myanmar from Singapore, your travel agency should tell you that it is a Buddhist country belonging to the Mahayana sect. Therefore, there are some strict cultural norms to be followed when exploring this quaint yet enigmatic Asian destination. We look at some dos and don’ts to remember on a Myanmar tour.
Things to Do
1. Pick up a Few Burmese Words: The Burmese people are friendly and more so when you try to converse in their language. You need not be perfect. The effort matters. So, picking up a few local words like salutations etc may be useful.
2. Stick to a Modest Dressing Style: Skin show should be completely avoided when exploring Burma. Modest dressing is advocated for women and men, especially while exploring their monasteries and other places of worship. So, fully covered trousers, long length skirts etc are to be carried along. Keep your minis and micros tucked away at home.
3. Respect their Unique Culture: One of the best ways to enjoy a Myanmar holiday is to participate in their festivals. Provided you respect their culture, the Burmese have no reservations in allowing you to be a part of their festivities. Just maintain a respectful demeanor. You can even dress up in traditional outfits. The locals would absolutely love this.
4. Treat Elders with Reverence: Bending a little when crossing paths with senior citizens is a mark of respect. Also, elders should always be served first during a public feasts.
Things to Refrain From
1. Public Display of Affection: The Burmese culture is a conservative one. So, hugging or kissing in public or any public display of affection should be avoided completely so as not to offend the sensibilities of the locals.
2. Improper Body Language: Just like other Buddhist countries, the head is considered holy and the feet impure. So, touching the head is a serious offence. Similarly, pointing at anything with your feet is also considered highly indecent. Also, keeping your feet exposed while offering prayers is not acceptable. You need to fold your legs and cover your feet during religious rituals at all times.
3. Be Careful with your Camera: Myanmar people guard their privacy with fierceness and no violation is acceptable. Whereas, clicking pictures at historical sites is allowed, clicking locals will require permission. Always remember to ask. It is important to respect their opinion. Taking photos of Buddhist monks when they are praying or meditating is strictly prohibited too.
Myanmar is all about serene natural locales and a rich cultural heritage. Make sure you have ample time at hand for exploring the gorgeous country. And, of course, consider seeking advice from your travel agency official, wherever you feel the need.
To read our previous article, please click here.