Culture, Food and Traditions in Myanmar


Myanmar is an ethnically diverse country, made up of 135 government-recognized ethnic groups. Its total population amounts up to 54 million, ranking 24th in the whole world. The average life expectancy of a Burmese is said to be 68.2 years - a number below average which is caused due to the lack of access to proper healthcare, sanitation and clean water.


The traditional greeting in Myanmar is to bow while placing both hands on the stomach, and an older person would simply nod in response. It is important to use the correct titles when addressing adults to show respect. To say hello, women use the phrase “Min-ga-la-ba shin” while men say “M in-ga-la-ba khin-bah”.

Cultural Dance:


Traditional costumes:

Children in Myanmar in their traditional costume

Traditional costumes of Myanmar vary according to ethnicity, geography, climate, and cultural traditions, and the most recognized costumes is the Longyi or sarong worn by both males and females. When worn by males, it Is called the paso but if it is worn by females it is called htamein.

Days of celebration:

There are many festivals in Myanmar, and some of the most interesting festivals are the Kachin Manaw Festival and Ananda Pagoda Festival. The Kachin Manaw Festival is a joint celebration of the New Year, battle victories, the tribes’ reunion and the tradition, and the Ananda Pagoda Festival is a religious festival that involves Buddhist rituals.

The Thingyan festival is also popular in Myanmar - more popularly known as the “Water Festival”, which is to celebrate the Burmese New Year through religious activities.

Local food:

A family in Myanmar having a meal

There is a wide variety of food choices in Myanmar and these are some must-try local foods - tea leaf salad and Nangyi thoke. The tea leaf salad is made of slightly sour and bitter leaves mixed with cabbage, tomatoes, nuts and peas, while the Nangyi thoke is a dry noodle dish topped with chicken, thin slices of fish cake and par-boiled bean sprouts,

Fast Facts:

  1. Always take off shoes and socks when entering a temple or home.
  2. The Burmese have been known to use Thanaka, a natural sunblock for over 2000 years.


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Written By: 
World Vision Singapore