Myanmar: The Land of Friendly Locals, Betel Nut & Tamarind Candy

visit myanmar

 Our product manager Hung Le treasured his time exploring different destinations in Myanmar. Here are a few observations from Le about the country, beginning with an anecdote about how an incredibly friendly welcome at the airport set the tone for the rest of his stay.

When traveling to Myanmar, I was deeply and immediately impressed by its tranquility and the overtly friendly people.

My journey started off sweet – literally – with a delicious piece of tamarind candy (the national candy of Myanmar) that the lovely flight attendant gave me before the plane took off.

Before long, I had landed in Yangon and stepped out into a rainy Myanmar day. There I was faced with a scene I had never before seen at any airport in my life – I saw a number of soaking-wet staff holding umbrellas and shielding the queue of passengers from the rain, while they moved from the plane to the bus.

At that time, I wondered whether or not the people in Myanmar were as nice as their airport staff. My query was quickly answered. A little later on my trip, when I was walking around the beautiful Inle Lake, I saw a group of locals launching sky lanterns and fireworks.

As soon as they saw me walking alone, they invited me to join them.

inle lake row boat

In general, despite not knowing you, a complete stranger can be willing to come over and help if they see that you’re lost or in trouble. If you look online or talk to anyone who’s been to Myanmar, you’ll hear several accounts of friendly encounters with locals. I found this to be true in all of the destinations I visited in the country.

Shopping was also quite a different experience. Often in South East Asia there is immense pressure to buy if you show interest in the goods of street sellers (which is fair enough, as they need the money and have families to feed). But, I was surprised to find in Myanmar when I was invited to look at souvenirs, I was never pressured when I didn’t want to buy.

Here are a few other observations:

myanmar-public-water
The kind Burmese oftern won't let anyone go thirsty
myanmar beauty
Women and men paint themselves with thanaka

You’ll find filtered water jugs all around Yangon, so locals always have a source of water with cup on top so that anyone can fill their cup and quench their thirst.

Thanaka is yellow or white paste made from tree bark. It is also applied mainly to the face, and sometimes the body and helps protect skin from the sun.

Don’t be alarmed if you see big, toothy red smiles in Myanmar. If you do, it means their teeth have been stained red from chewing betel nut.

Thanaka is yellow or white paste made from tree bark. It is also applied mainly to the face, and sometimes the body and helps protect skin from the sun.

You’ll find filtered water jugs all around Yangon, so locals always have a source of water with cup on top so that anyone can fill their cup and quench their thirst.

You can’t get very far without stumbling upon a tea shop, which you’ll find on almost every city block in Yangon. This is definitely must-try in Myanmar.

Now is a great time to visit Myanmar, which is still a relatively new destination on the tourist trail. For that reason it has maintained a lot of its charm and the locals are just as curious and friendly as ever.

For a look at some of our Myanmar toursclick here.

TAKE NOTE: With the devastating situation in the north of Myanmar, in the country’s Rakhine state, many people have questioned whether it is safe to travel to the country. The FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) has advised against all but essential travel to the Rakhine state and neighboring northern states. However, the rest of the country is relatively safe, with the common consensus being that it’s perfectly safe to travel when sticking to the normal tourist routes.

Of course, ultimately it’s up to the traveler to decide if they want to visit Myanmar and they should always take any precautionary measures required.

 

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