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Do’s & Don’ts in Myanmar

Below guide lines are about the customs and beliefs of Myanmar people that will go a long way toward making your stay more pleasant with them. Please read them carefully and be mindful of some important suggestions while traveling.

  • Try to speak Myanmar language: a simple “hello”, “goodbye” and “thank you” is always greatly appreciated!
  • When addressing people, don't leave out U (which stands for Mr) or Daw (which stands for Ms/Mrs).
  • Try to speak slowly and clearly.
  • Men do not shake hands with woman or a lady, although handshaking is the normal form of greeting and appreciated. Men should not touch a woman or a lady even in friendliness.
  • Do not show affection in public.
  • Accept or give things with your right hand. However, when you offer something to a monk or nun or an elderly person, use both hands.
  • Do not offer your hand to shake hands with a monk.
  • A woman should not to let any part of her body touch a monk's robes.
  • In Myanmar, nodding means YES, and shaking head means NO.
  • While eating, let the oldest be served first.
  • Do not touch any adult on the head.
  • Do not step over any part of a person, but if you must, always ask to be excused first.
  • Keep the feet on the ground; and bend a bit when crossing close in front of the elders.
  • Do not turn the plant of the feet towards a monk or a statue of Buddha.
  • Seek permission on retrieving an article above a person's head.
  • Do not point a finger straight in the face.
  • Never not to show or nominate an object or a person with the point of the feet.
  • Do not sit down higher than a monk or than a statue of Buddha.
  • Do not sit with back against a statue of Buddha.
  • Do not sit on a statue of Buddha to make a photograph.
  • Do not put Buddha statues or images on the floor or somewhere inappropriate.
  • Try to show respect to monks, nuns, and novices (even if they are children).
  • Sit lower than a monk and old nuns and elders.
  • Do not give an offering in food to a monk, nun, or a novice after midday.
  • Do not give directly money to a monk.
  • Do not step voluntarily on a monk's shadow.
  • Remove your shoes including socks before entering the enclosure of a Buddhist religious precinct such as pagoda, temple, and monastery, enclosing wall of such monuments or even a stone heap with Buddhist flag.
  • Remove your shoes before entering a private house.
  • Dress up decently, especially within the precincts of religious buildings. Never do not wear shorts or bra-less T shirts in such places; shoulders and knees should be covered. Disregard of these customs causes serious cultural and religious offence to Buddhist Myanmar people.
  • Avoid being a nuisance when taking photographs.
  • Keep your European bathing suit for the swimming pool in the hotel. At the beach, put shorts.
  • Penalties for drug-trafficking range from five years’ imprisonment to a death sentence.
  • And Homosexuality is illegal.


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