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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for List of Things to Know about Yangon - Top Facts on the Culture and the Nature of Myanmar
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Joanna James Joanna James
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List of Things to Know about Yangon - Top Facts on the Culture and the Nature of Myanmar

As one of Asia's emerging holiday hotspots, Myanmar is a breathtaking land worthy of exploration. Here are some fascinating facts regarding the country and its customs and a few useful travel tips.

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1. Faux Pas

Pointing one's feet at Buddha sculptures or sitting in a way in which the feet are facing representations of Lord Buddha is a sign of disrespect in Myanmar. This not only applies to religious or sacred locations but also street corners and other venues in which Buddha statues and images are displayed.

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2. Slow Net Speeds

While Myanmar is not entirely cut out of the digital age, travellers exploring the country should be aware of the low internet speeds prevalent in even the major tourist hubs around the nation. While most accommodation providers will offer reasonable Wi-Fi rates and internet access, do not expect the fast speeds one is used to in one's home country as technology hasn't quite caught up with Myanmar as it has with neighbouring countries such as Thailand. Smartphones are also a rarity as most locals prefer public phones and street phones to owning a personal mobile device.

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3. Temple Etiquette

Remember to remove footwear, caps or hats when entering a place of worship in Myanmar. This includes flip flops and sandals as well as headscarves unless one is of the Islamic faith. Carry a plastic bag to store your footwear for safekeeping or buy one outside the temple or shrine if the particular religious institution does not have a storage area for shoes and sandals.

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4. Avoid the Left

Eating with one's left hand and passing things to others with the left hand is frowned upon in local culture as the right hand is deemed to be cleaner than the left. This is due to the belief that the left hand is employed in performing sanitary rituals in the toilet and is thus unfit for public exchanges.

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5. Cosmetics

Witnessing women and female teens in Myanmar with a yellow paste slathered on their cheeks is a sight that may alarm tourists but the Thanaka cream is a local cosmetic variety that local women have used for thousands of years. Known to have moisturizing properties, the many benefits of the cream include acne prevention and as a cooling agent. The paste is in fact, made using organic and plant-based materials including a tree bark which is then combined with water to create the natural moisturizer.

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6. Betel Nut Stains

Those walking the streets of Myanmar may also come across red stains on public roads, sidewalks and other surfaces on the ground. The stains are created when locals spit betel nut juice after chewing on the popular aphrodisiac. As a local form of tobacco, the plant-based treat also stains the teeth and mouth of those who consume it every day. Betel but vendors and kiosks are typically found on nearly every street corner due to the popularity of the addictive substance.

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7. Lingua Franca

The official spoke and written language in Myanmar is Burmese although some members of the local populace are conversant in English. Numbers on buses and other public places are also written in Burmese numerical and not the Roman numerical tourists are used to. So visitors should have a rudimentary awareness of the Burmese numbers or alternatively have the hotel concierge write the bus number on a business card in Burmese just in case.

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8. Peak Season

The best time to visit Myanmar is from the month of November till February when the climate is cool and not too hot. The room rates of a hotel in Yangon, whether it's the Sedona Hotels Yangon or any other venue will also reflect the large demand for guestrooms during this period.

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