Myanmar is filled with stunning sites and a rich history yet the true beauty of the country is its people. Friendly, hospitable and honest, the people of Myanmar are what makes a holiday here truly special. They are always keen to show their traditions, share homemade food or offer a glimpse in to their daily lives and we highly encourage visitors to embrace this hospitality to better understand the country and its people. In this blog, Mighty Myanmar shares some tips for how to experience local culture when visiting Myanmar.
Some tips for how to experience local culture when visiting Myanmar
Â Smile Although there may be a language barrier between you and the Myanmar people, a smile is always understood. Immediately the local people will feel relaxed and comfortable around you and are more likely to invite you to join them for a cup of tea or start a conversation with you.
Slow down Although your time in Myanmar may be short, we suggest to slow down and soak in the surroundings. The best way to do this is to hop out of the car or bus and take a walk or bike ride. Suddenly your perspective will change and instead of just seeing Myanmar from a passing window you will truly the country. The smell of a street vendor frying tempura, the sound of laughter rising from the fields as farmers share a joke, a glimpse of a curious child peeking around a corner to wave at you- these are just a few of the moments that will stay etched in your mind and help define what is the real Myanmar lifestyle.
Â Buy Local– In the bigger cities, mini-marts are beginning to pop up on the main streets. While this is a welcome convenience for many residents, interacting with smaller shop vendors is one of the easiest and most fun ways to make friends in Myanmar. Neighborhood shops are usually run in the front of a house or apartment and are filled with everything you could possibly need. However, they are generally not well organized and rarely have price tags which- unless you speak Burmese- leads to a fun pantomime of gestures with the shopkeeper. Keeping a smile on your face and staying patient, you will eventually get what you need and for the right price- and it is not unusual for the shopkeeper to throw in a small present for you or request a photo with their new foreign friend!
Â Tea Shops Found in every town and open throughout the day, Myanmar's tea shops are a great place to experience local culture. These shops are for more than just drinking and eating- they are the social hubs of the neighborhood. Groups of friends gather here for hours at a time, chatting casually while sipping cup after cup of green tea. Business men and women make appointments at tea shops to finalize the details of a deal and it is not unusual to see contracts being signed or money being handed over between sips of tea. By sitting in a tea shop, you will see these and other scenes of social life unfold and often, as a foreigner, curious locals will invite you to join with them.
Â Say Yes - The people of Myanmar genuinely want visitors to love their country and sometimes they may seem to be going out of their way to welcome you. But do not be afraid to accept their gestures of good will whether it be sharing their food with you, inviting you in to their home, offering a free car ride when it is raining or giving you a small present to take with you on your travels. Many foreigners feel awkward saying to such offers, as this is not the normal western way, but the Myanmar people will greatly appreciate it if you accept their offer and you will experience the legendary hospitality that the country is known for. If you do feel really uncomfortable, a smile and a no thank you will certainly lead to another offer but usually after the second rejection you will be able to walk away without having upset anyone.