7 Things You Should Never Do in Myanmar

Don’t walk before looking all ways

When crossing a road in Myanmar make sure to look both ways, even when crosswalks are present. Drivers don’t necessarily yield for pedestrians, and it isn’t uncommon to also have to dodge bikers and trishaws while walking across busy intersections.

Likewise, as Myanmar is in the height of a rapid, exciting transformation, many parts of cities are literally construction zones. Walkways tend to be uneven or even riddled with holes. Keep an eye on the path ahead and look all ways, always.

Don’t ride a motorbike in the city center of Yangon

This is actually a law. Motorbikes are supposedly banned in the main parts of Yangon for safety reasons. This may take some getting used to since most other major hubs in the region allow the use of motorized bikes. Motorbikes and electric scooters can be ridden in townships on the outskirts of Yangon as well as in other cities.

Be Respectful – Don’t Touch Anyone With Your Feet

Myanmar is a Buddhist country and you should respect the culture here. This includes covering up when visiting temples and taking off your shoes before entering homes or even some cafes. But one key thing to know before travelling to Myanmar is that it’s very rude to to accidentally step over someone or brush your foot off them.

Feet are the lowest, and the head is high, so never put your feet up on a chair or table.

Try to Avoid Using Your Left Hand

People who use their left hand to accept or give things can be considered rude here, as people usually use their left hand for toilet activities! Try to use your right hand at all times, especially when eating.

Don’t sleep without a mosquito net

Myanmar is tropical, and with tropical climates come monsoon rains, excessive heat and humidity, relentless mosquitos, and supersized pests. Sleeping within some sort of protective netting is advised whenever possible, and not only to keep out the mosquitos. Think spiders, cockroaches, and other creepy crawlies.

Dengue Fever is prevalent in several locations including the Yangon region, but Malaria tends to stay put in more rural areas. Nets can be found at most stores for a decent price. The majority of hotels or guesthouses don’t provide them.

Don’t wear shoes or socks in sacred spaces

It’s of utmost importance to respectfully remove socks and shoes or sandals before entering sacred spaces in Myanmar. Many pagodas even have a place to store footwear for a minimal fee. Ancient, less traversed temples such as several found in Bagan don’t offer the most comfortable or safe terrain to go barefooted upon, so use caution when stepping.

Don’t Disrespect the Buddha

While you can get away with your Buddha tattoo in Thailand or elsewhere, Myanmar is a lot stricter when it comes to improper use of the image of Buddha. Articles 295 and 295(a) of the Myanmar Penal Code prescribe up to four years’ imprisonment for “insulting religion” and “hurting religious feelings.”

This means covering up any Buddha tattoos, or anything that might show the image used in a non-religious manner.