When visiting this enchanting country in Asia, there are practical things you need to be aware of like what to wear in Myanmar. This developing Southeast Asian country is not only geographically distinct from the United States and European countries, but also socially, culturally and fashion-wise. One of the first things that western tourists notice about Burma fashion is that locals are dressed low-key and very respectful by always covering their arms and legs especially when visiting a temple or monastery. Sleeveless shirts, shorts and miniskirts are not allowed inside the temples and so the Burmese people have never gotten used to wearing “revealing” clothes. Shoes, even sandals and flip-flops must be left outside temple doors. Myanmar has the best and most ornate Buddhist pagodas in Asia that tourists simply could not resist a visit or two, and so it is important to know how to dress appropriately.
Men and women wear a sarong-like piece of dress called “longyi”. These are sold everywhere, and it is a good idea for tourists to buy one to wear on their temple visit or as a fitting souvenir. A longyi is worn or tied differently for men and women, so it is important for foreigners to ask help from a local. The Burmese are very friendly people (typical of Southeast Asians) and are too eager to help tourists tie their longyi the right way, as well as doing any other favors for a tourist. There are also pieces of longyi for rent outside temple premises. Dressing decently in the temple more specifically applies to women, who are also discouraged to approach monks since monks are not allowed to talk or come into contact with the opposite sex.
Another popular souvenir that could be a hit back home in the West is a t-shirt bearing images of the Buddha or anything related to the Buddha. While this is a good way to brag back home that one has been to the beautiful country of Myanmar, wearing a t-shirt with Buddhist imagery is highly disrespectful and must be avoided when in Myanmar. While wearing an image of the Buddha would seem as though it is paying the Prophet homage, the truth is it is not.
Other than religion and culture, the hot tropical Burma weather should also be considered when deciding what to wear in Myanmar. In the major cities of Yangon and Mandalay, the temperature can go as high as 36-37°Celsius in summer. That is sweltering and very irritating to many Western tourists who may have not been to a tropical country before. Myanmar is not very far from the equator and so the climate is typically very warm and humid. The best clothes to wear are light cotton shirts. Foreign tourists are expected to be respectful all the time but that doesn’t mean being formal and stiff. It is okay to dress down while checking out a local market or department store or just walking the streets. Locals are used to seeing foreigners dressed in very casual shirts, shorts, jeans, 3/4 pants and flip-flops. Although locals will not dress as casually in public, they are very forgiving of tourists.