Do's & Don'ts

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Typical Character

Friendly, helpful, honest but proud.

Treat everyone with respect and you will be respected.


When addressing people, don’t leave out U (which stands for Mr) or Daw (which stands for Ms/Mrs).

Speak slowly and clearly.


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.


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 is 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.


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.


Don't leave expensive items in your room. Use safe deposit box.

Beware of cheats, swindlers, imposters.


Stay away from narcotic drugs.

Carry some medicines for diarrhoea.

If sick, don't worry. All doctors are English literate.

Health insurance is not available.


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.


Most Myanmar does not wear shoes in their homes. Take off when visiting.

Moving About

Don’t jays walk? Watch where you walk and what you step on.

If driving, city speed limit is 30 mph. Drive on the right side.

At religious places, remove footwear. But to remove headwear is not necessary.


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 afternoon time.

A woman should not touch a monk.