CUSTOMS There are many customs that visitors must be aware of when visiting a country like Myanmar. In order to be culturally sensitive and avoid offending the locals, here are a few tips:
FEET Remember to take off your shoes and socks before you enter a temple, pagoda or as a guest in a private house. Remember the golden rule: keep your feet on the ground at all times. Keep them off tables and chairs and try not to wave them around. Also try to remember not to point your feet directly at anybody and try to walk around a person rather than step over them. As a sign of respect, the Myanmar will also try to avoid stepping on a monk’s shadow.
HANDS As in most Asian countries try to remember to use your right hand when giving and receiving. Better still, the most gracious way to give and receive is to use both hands. Names People in Myanmar place an honorific in front of names to show respect for age or position.
EATING In a Myanmar home people generally eat around a low table, sitting on mats on the floor. In restaurants, more conventional Western tables and chairs are used. Myanmar food is generally eaten with the fingers. Western visitors are probably more comfortable with fork and spoon which is perfectly acceptable.
CLOTHING Light cotton clothing is most appropriate for the long hot summer months. Do not wear shorts, mini skirts or sleeveless shirts when visiting religious sites. While the Myanmar make no demands, it is a mark of respect to dress modestly and neatly.
WATER Don’t drink the tap water. Make sure your water is boiled, or better yet, buy it bottled. Go easy on the ice cubes.
AIRPORT TAX is US$10 per head to be paid on departure.
BANK Open from 10am to 2pm. Hotels can change money for guests.
ELECTRICITY 220V, 50 Hz, British 3flat pin plugs
TELEPHONE International dial code: 001
SHOPPING Note that you are not allowed to export antiques or religious items.
TAXI To the airport from Yangon city take 45 minutes.
WATCH the Sun In the plains around Bagan, the sun is ferocious and can be tiring. Follow the lead of the Myanmar and visit temples and parks in the early morning and later in the afternoon, resting in your hotel in the heat of the day. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water, use sunscreen and bring a hat. Or buy traditional Myanmar thanaka. Bring mosquito repellent and se it.
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