With over 100 different languages and cultures, Myanmar is a fascinating tourism destination. When you visit this country, learn something about its history and local lifestyle, and taste the dishes. Wearing the traditional clothing, visiting Golden Temple and walking the world’s longest teak-wood bridge are among the most interesting experiences in Myanmar.
1. Wearing the traditional dress – Longyi and Tamain
Myanmar’s traditional costume is a wrap-around skirt, known as Longyi for men and Tamain for women. On your first day in Myanmar tour, you should visit small market or clothes stores to outfit yourself in the local tradition. These are typically colourful and flowery. Longyi or Tamain are simple to wear, just wrap them around your hips as tightly as possible. Ask the shopkeeper to show you the best technique for keeping it in place.
2. Apply local make-up
Thanakha is a kind of traditional cosmetic with sweet scent that cools and protects skin under the sun. This cosmetic is made from Thanakha wood. Women and children here regularly use this cosmetic. Especially, students often use it every day. It is simple to use, you mix Thanakha and water to create a paste and apply it to your skin. Some children even use it to draw adorable animals on their cheeks or arms.
3. Drinking tea
Drinking tea is a widespread habit in Myanmar. Everywhere you will see people sitting on the sidewalk in the afternoon to drink tea. There are many kinds of tea available, such as milk tea with sweet or bitter taste, or mixed tea. Typically, Myanmar people serve tea with steamed buns or cakes.
4. Lingering in temples
The best way to truly experience this Buddhist country is to visit the temples. You will see the Buddhists meditating or chanting for hours in the temples. If you want to learn about the worship rituals, bring along some snacks or drinks because it will take a long time. Popular temples include Shwedagon Temple in Yangon, Maha Muni in Mandalay, and many others.
5. Climbing Mandalay Hill and chatting with monks
Climbing Mandalay Hill for a panoramic view of the area is a great experience, particularly at sunrise or sunset. You can also chat with the monks in English to learn more about the culture and people in Myanmar. The monks are happy to act as guides for the chance to practice their English skills. Most of them are studying at the nearby Buddhist University and wish to study abroad in Thailand or India, so they are eager to improve their English proficiency.
6. People-watching on the world’s longest bridge
U Bein Bridge, stretching some 1.2km, is the longest teak bridge in the world, crossing a lake to link two suburban areas of Mandalay. Monks and local residents often walk or bike over the bridge. Walking the bridge, or taking a boat to watch people passing on the bridge is a memorable experience.
7. Exploring Bagan’s more than 2,000 temples and pagodas
Known as the country of temples, Myanmar is a prime destination for those interested in religious culture. There are over 2,000 temples and pagodas in Bagan alone. You can get around the area by bike to visit temples along the way. Remember to bring some snacks and food because there are not many shops around the temples
8. Visiting villages around Inle Lake by bike or boat
Local people consider Inle Lake to be the world’s most beautiful. It is not deep, but wide and smooth like a mirror reflecting the mountains, hills, clouds and sky. Exploring the edges of the lake by bike, visiting small villages or lingering in temples nearby makes a great outing. You can hire a boat to cross the lake at numerous places.
9. Pilgrimage to the land of Buddha and breathe fresh air
Don’t miss the opportunity to join the pilgrimage hike up to Kyaiktiyo, the ‘Golden Rock’, to see the stunning beauty from the top. Here a large boulder, liberally covered in gold leaf, appears always about to tumble off of its mountaintop perch. According to legend, the boulder is kept from falling as it is supported by a strand of Buddha’s hair. Remember that this is a sacred site – wear clothes covering the shoulders and knees, both to show respect and to ward off the sometimes cold breeze on the mountaintop.
10. Eating and drinking
Food in Myanmar is diverse, daily meals often have many different dishes. Every meal, though, includes a bowl of soup. Other notable dishes include a salad which is a mix with cabbage, onion, garlic, peanut and other greens. You should try Shan noodle, made from eggs and vegetables and sauces. Parata cake, made from flour, eggs and sugar, is popular and usually served with a cup of tea.
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