Having only recently opened up to the world, there’s a lot to learn about the Golden Land of Myanmar. Here are 10 interesting facts about this mysterious and mesmerizing place…
Myanmar – the land of pagodas, mystery and unique culture – is a truly fascinating destination in Asia that nowattracts more and more travellers from around the world. English poet and novelist Rudyard Kipling once wrote, “This is Burma and it is unlike any land you know about”. Travelling Myanmar is enigmatic, inspiring and unique. Get inspired with these 10 interesting facts about the Golden Land!
1. The Burmese New Year is a Water Festival
The Burmese New Year which is called Thingyan or Water Festival often takes place in April as an annual event. This year, Thingyan festival falls from 13th to 16th April.
During the Burmese New Year Water Festival, all restaurants and stores are closed. Local people pour water onto each other as a way to wash away of unlucky things and sins in the previous year. Considering tempuratures also rocket into high levels, this festival is a refreshing reprieve for locals and travellers alike!
2. Beautiful, Quiet Beaches
Myanmar proudly owns more than two thousand kilometers of coastline and some of the most beautiful beaches in Asia. Many stretch along the Bay of Bengal and remain undiscovered by tourists and unspoiled by local authority. Ngapali is considered the most well-known beach in Myanmar, and is just a 45-minute ride from Yangon.
3. Clean and Pristine USD
ATMs are a bit easier to find in Myanmar than they used to be, but problems still arrive with travellers not being able to make withdrawals. To be on the safe side, bring enough US dollars to pay for your entire trip. Moreover, you also need to keep your money as clean and pristine as possible. Any tiny crease, tear or tiny stain could be grounds for refusal to be accepted in Myanmar. For smaller exchanges and general pocket money, exchange some of your cash for the local kyat which isn’t held to the same standard of cleanliness as USD. Credit cards and cheques are also accepted in 5-star hotels as well as high-end restaurants.
4. Kiss for a Beer
In Myanmar, when you want your server’s attention, the custom is to make a kissing sound, about 2 or 3 times. Although it may seem unsual, you’ll be surprised at how effective kissing noises are to get someone’s attention!
5. Hotels Are Still Pricey
Room rates in Myanmar are much higher than other countries of South East Asia. Since Myanmar has opened up, a lot of travellers around the world have made the journey. However, many hotels are still under construction in order to eventually meet visitors’ high demands. Therefore room rates are still high and there are still not many hotels outside of major cities.
6. Men Wear skirts
Known in Burmese as the longyi, this traditional form of dress is worn by both men and women, everywhere. A square piece of fabric that wraps around the waist, it is worn by many men all over the country. While men usually tie their longyi in front, women fold their cloth over and secure it to the side. This dress is not only practical for labour, longyi are comfortable and easy to wear when temperatures climb to 40°C! Wether you’re in the city or the rural countryside, don’t be too surpised to see a shirtless man in a skirt!
7. Eat With Your Right Hand
Eating with left hand in Burma is considered a rude action because this hand only use for personal hygiene. Be careful when eating or giving money to someone, always remember doing with your right hand. Furthermore, Burmese use their fingertips to squeeze the rice into small balls and mix them with other dishes as they eat.
8. Newspaper Stands Abound in Yangon
During the period restricted information, reading newspaper was the only way for Burmese to know about the world outside their country. It is still an important source of information as well as pride, and you’re bound to see hundreds of vendours dotting the streets of Yangon.
9. The Betel Nut Habit
Chewing betel nuts is a daily hobby of the Burmese. Vendors sell them all over the country and they are a favourite for many locals. The betel nut is wrapped in betel leaf with some tobacco and spices and chewed but never swallowed. They’re enjoyed like chewing tobacco, chewed and chewed and chewed until the flavour wears off. This head buzzing hobby also causes your teeth and spit to turn red, so don’t be surprised if you see the odd red stain on the sidewalk!
10. Cheeroot Cigars
Another unsual local custom are hand rolled cheeroot cigars, with various aromatic flavours. These cigars are a centuries old tradition of Myanmar that many locals swear by! At Inle Lake, you can see firsthand the ethnic communities rolling hundreds of these in precise and calming fashion.