As Myanmar is a culturally Mahayana Buddhist country, like its neighbours Cambodia and Thailand, its citizens follow norms and traditions closely associated with the local religion.

The following cultural rules or social ethics are to be followed.


It is good greeting to someone by smiling but Myanmar always bow our heads to greet the monks.  

  • The two words go a long way in fostering goodwill as you are in Myanmar: Always ask permission before taking a shot of locals.
    •      “Mengalaba” (pronounced as Meng- Gah- Lah- Bar) = “Hello”
    •      “Chesube” (pronounced as Tseh- Soo- Beh) = “Thank you”
  • Change your money at authorized money changers, not the black market. Black market moneychangers can be found all over local markets, but don’t bother.


  • Footwear including socks are not allowed in religious precincts such as Pagodas, temples, and monasteries.
  • Myanmar dress is very conservative, do avoid of anything unsuitable in the public. One should not wear blouse or short-pants in the religious edifices or Buddhist monasteries.
  • Women are strictly prohibited to sit on higher level such as the roof of boat, or buses while the other elders or monks or nuns and men are sitting beneath.
  • Traditionally men do not shake hands with women.
  • Use your two hands when you offer something or present to the elders and to the monks.
  • Taking pictures of meditating monks is considered very disrespectful.
  • Don’t show affection in public.  Myanmar is still a conservative country, and the locals may be offended by public displays of affection.
  • Don’t visit restricted areas.