CULTURE IN MYANMAR
Myanmar’s food has a special identity beloved by locals. Although its neighboring countries influence the cuisine, the food does not directly resemble Thai, Indian or Chinese food. A typical Myanmar meal is arranged around rice with accompanying dishes of fish or meat cooked in onion and garlic-based gravy. Soup can be clear, creamy or tart and is sipped during the meal to cleanse the palate. Salads are a popular side dish and some, such as the pickled tea leaf salad called lahpet, are eaten as snacks. Mohinga, a thick fish broth with thin rice noodles, is arguably Myanmar’s most famous national dish and is typically eaten for breakfast. Another delicious choice is the popular ohno kaukswe, a coconut-based chicken soup with noodles.
Tea is a staple drink in Myanmar, and tea shops are great for not only starting your day with a strong drink, but for people-watching as well. Tea is typically served hot and with sweet, condensed milk added to cut its strong natural earthiness. Standout Myanmar sweets are quite simple and consist of coconut, tapioca, rice flour, and fruit. Favorites include iced coconut milk with tapioca, and Mont Lone Ye Baw, which are rice dumplings stuffed with sugar and topped with shredded coconut.
Learning a foreign language has amazing benefits and opens lines of communication all over the world. Knowing a new language helps you expand your horizons and meet people you typically wouldn’t have been able to talk to! Although many Myanmar locals speak English, knowing at least basic words and phrases will make your stay even more enjoyable and will give you the confidence to explore Myanmar’s beauty and culture to the fullest.
If travelers such as students or businesspeople are spending an extended amount of time in Myanmar, investing in language lessons will undoubtedly help ease the transition of living in a foreign country. Language lessons are offered in most of Myanmar’s larger cities in Myanmar like Yangon, Mandalay and Malawmyine. Experienced Myanmar language teachers instruct the courses: you can learn the basics or dive into intensive classes- the choice is yours! Speak with your tour operator about taking a Myanmar language class during your stay.
BUDDHISM & TEMPLES
Buddhism is the most represented religion in Myanmar: over 80% of the population practices the Theravada branch of this ancient religion! Because Myanmar is considered to be one of the most devout Buddhist nations in the world, Buddhism is a central part of any traveler’s visit to Myanmar.
Pagodas and temples dot Myanmar’s landscapes, from city centers to remote islands and mountaintops. Understanding and discovering Buddhist culture may be done with guided tours of pagodas or even a mere walk through any town. Must-see temples include Yangon’s glittering Shwedagon Pagoda and Bagan’s thousands of ancient structures. Since Buddhism is such an integral part of life in Myanmar, travelers will learn and practice the traditions associated with the religion, such as meditation and the removal of shoes before entering a temple. Ask your tour operator about options for discovering more about Buddhism in Myanmar during your trip.
Meditation is an important facet of Theravada Buddhism and is widely practiced among Myanmar’s faithful Buddhists. Buddhist meditation focuses on mindfulness and insight as well as association with the philosophy of the religion. In Theravada Buddhism there are over fifty methods for developing mindfulness! Buddhists meditate as part of their journey to enlightenment and welcome foreigners to learn about this sacred practice.
Meditation retreats are popular among travelers as they provide them a glimpse into the culture of Myanmar and offer peace and relaxation during their stay. Retreat centers are located within bustling cities and in tranquil forests — choose the location that works for you! Retreats are available to tourists and are cleansing and spiritual ways to enjoy part of your holiday while learning about one of Myanmar’s special traditions.