DO AND DON'TS
- Mar 07, 2013
The usual Asian rules of conduct apply in Myanmar, and there are also a few specific Burmese ones. As with elsewhere in Asia it is unseemly t oshow too much emotion losing your templer over problem and delays gets you nowwhere, it just amazed people stay calm and collected at all times . The Burmese frown on such displays of anger just as much as they frown on too open a display of affection.
Don't compromise local people by raising political questions and issues in inappropriate situations, be discreet and mindful of possible repercussions for them.
As in other Buddhist countries the head is the highest part of the body- spiritually as well as literally, you should never deliberately touch somebody else on the heador pat a child on the head. Equally the feet are the lowest part of the body- don't point your feet at anybody or anything, If you accidentally brush somebody with your foot, apologise immediately, Needless to say, using your toes to pick something up off the ground is poor form
Buddha images are sacred objects, so don't pose in front of them for pictures, or give them a thump to ascertain what they're made of - and definitely do not sit or climb upon them.
A couple of rules apply specifically to women : Women should never ride o the roofs of vehicles or small( large passenger ferries with multiple decks are exempted) which would be a cultural insult to any male passengers beow.
Monks are not supposed to touch or be touched by women. If woman wants to hand something to a monk the object should be placed within reach of the monk not handed directly to him.
Wheb handing something to any body, it's polite to give and receive with the right hand . Note how the Burmese will often touch their right elbow with their left hand when giving or receiving something, or especially when shaking hands in greeting . This is considered extra polite, and if a Burmese hands something to you in this way, reciprocate by mimicking thee gesture.
As in neighbouring Thailand and Laos, it's very rude to step over anybody who is sitting or lying on the floor ( or the deck of a boat) even if it's just their outstretched arms or legs, Do your best to step around instead of over someboddy, even if they're asleep. Usually Burmese will make room for you t pass if they notice that they're blocking your way, but if they don't notice you ( or arre asleep) it's best to touch them gently on the arm to get their attention instead of climbing over them.
One should dress neatly ( n shorts or skimpy tops) when visiting religious sites . Most important of all in Myanmar remember to take off your shoes and socks before entering the grounds of any Theravada Buddhist shrine, zedi , temple, paya or monastery . Even at the most dilapidated . run-down ruined paya in Bagan the no footwearing rule still appllies. You must go barefoot in every part of a Buddhist compound not just in the shrine buildings as in neighbouring Buddhist countries. In the middle of the day going barefoot can be a little painful as the paved area around a paya often bemocmes very hot at major paya there will often be a mat walk way around the platform.
at one time this restriction caused quite a stir between the Burmese and the British as part of the growing surge of nationalism between the wars and as a neat way to put hte British in their place ,the Burmese decided to rigidly enforce theno-footwear rules, from which the Europeans had previously exempted themselves.
Shoes - but not necessarily socks- are also taken off befor entring private homes, actually teh Burmese very rarely wear socks you 'll find it easier to deal with temples and private homes if you followi their example and go sockless. or take it a step further and werar slip - on sandals - the most convenient footwear for travellingin Myanmar - like the locals do.
Beach attire or sloppy lounge clothes are not considered appropriate for walking around town, Men should try to keepp their shoulders covered except at teh beach or wheen bathing . Likewise long trousers longyi ( sarong-style garment ) or skirts are considered more appropriate than shorts in all situations except at the beach, Women can wear sleeveless blousees, but should try to avoid tight or breast- baring tank tops.
if you decide to go native and wear a longyi in bublic ( as a surprising number of travellers do) make sure it has been sewn into a tube before wearing it. Walking around town with an unsewin longyi is the Burmese equivalent of being caught with your trousers unzipped!