Do's & Don'ts

Typical Character

  • Friendly. Helpful. Honest. Smiling most of the times and ready to help others.
  • 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 diarrhea.
  • 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.
  • Avoid shouting or laughing.
  • Avoid being a nuisance when taking photographs.
  • Treat Buddha images with respect.
  • Tuck away your feet. Don’t point it towards 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 after noon time.
  • A woman should not touch a monk.