Coordinator: Dr. Andrea Valentin
Organisers: Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Hanns Seidel Foundation
Special acknowledgements: U Khaing Oo Swe, Mr. Achim Munz, Mr. Axel Neubert, Daw Khin Than Win, Daw Kyi Kyi Aye, U Tun Ohn, Mr. Felix von Studnitz and all the people who were so kind to participate in the interviews and focus groups.
Cartoonists: Ngwe Kyi, Thit Htoon, Harn Lay, Aw Pyi Kyal and Chit Thu
Layout: Karen Vinalay
First Published October 2012, First Sponsor Edition Published February 2013
Unit 7, Ground Floor, Inya Lake Hotel
No. 37, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Mayangone Township, Yangon.
Tel: + 95 1 667225
No. 3A corner of Waizayandar Rd. and Thanthmar Rd. Thuwanna, Thingangyun Township, Yangon, Myanmar
Tel: + 95 1 8551012, 855 1013
Fax: + 95 1 855 1016
Tel: + 95 67 406 454, 406 130
406 462 & 406 060
Fax: + 95 67 406061, 406 057, 406 062
First and foremost, I am very pleased and happy to extend my heartiest welcome to the visitors from all over the world who would like to enjoy and value our hospitality, culture and nature based tourism resources.
Since a lot of changes have taken place in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, many people across the world are increasingly interested to visit Myanmar with various purposes. It is of vital importance that we provide our best services and hospitality to the satisfaction of all visitors.
Most importantly, we would like to share some best practices, as exemplified in the present Dos and Don’ts for foreign visitors so that the relationship with the local communities will be friendly, more understandable and beneficial for all.
As the productive outcome of the close and deep cooperation with Hanns Seidel Foundation based in Germany, the present tourism guidelines came to materialize with the efforts of Dr. Andrea Valentin.
We hope that this cartoon booklet is an approachable medium for travelers to understand and respect the traditions and customs of our local community, in order to make Myanmar a better place for people to live in and a better place to visit.
Enjoy your holiday in Myanmar!
Union Ministry of Hotels and Tourism
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Given the tremendous potential of Myanmar as an emerging tourist destination in the global tourism market and the rapid change the country is currently experiencing, the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism recognized the risk of unsustainable tourism growth and negative impacts relating to culture, society and the environment. In response to this challenge, the ‘Myanmar Responsible Tourism Policy’ was launched in September 2012. Under the aim of minimising unethical practices, the first action point was to develop a code of conduct to raise visitor awareness about the intricacies of Myanmar culture and society.
Cooperation was facilitated among a wide range of Myanmar tourism stakeholders in order to identify the most pressing issues to be communicated to tourists. First, the researchers Dr. Andrea Valentin and U Khaing Oo Swe undertook qualitative research in form of semi-structured interviews and focus groups in five different tourism destinations in Myanmar. From Yangon, to Bagan, Mandalay, Kyaing Tong and Nyaung Shwe, the researchers spoke with over 350 people, ranging from embassies, trade associations, NGOs, monks, Pagoda Trustees, hoteliers, tour operators, travel agents, tour guides to ethnic minority villagers, artisans, gastronomists, tri-shaw and horse cart drivers. The results of the research were then presented to 17 Ministries related to tourism in Naypyitaw, who discussed and approved the final Dos and Don’ts.
Then the cartoonists were approached. Again, the researchers aimed to include a wide range of Myanmar cartoonists to work together to minimize the negative impacts of tourism. We were honoured to work with Ngwe Kyi, Thit Htoon, Harn Lay, Apk and Chit Thu for this project.
Ngwe Kyi began drawing cartoons in 1964 for Myanmar magazines, journals and newspapers. His most famous cartoon character is called Kabasha. He is the author of a range of books called ‘Myanmar laughter’.
Thit Htoon started drawing in 1971. His most famous cartoon is Maung Ti Htwin (Mr. Inventor). He draws comics, satire, illustrations and animation cartoons. Thit Htoon used Watercolour for his cartoons.
Harn Lay began his professional career by drawing film posters for theaters in Taunggyi, Shan State. After fleeing Burma following the uprising in 1988, he began contributing his art to several exiled organizations and media groups. He works as a staff cartoonist for The Irrawaddy, a source of news, information, and analysis on Burma and the Southeast Asian region.
Aw Pi Kyal began drawing cartoons in 1975. He is a very popular cartoon artist in Myanmar. In particular he is famous for his satire cartoons, which he regularly publishes in Myanmar journals and magazines.
Cartoonist Chit Thu began drawing in 1992. One of his comic books is called ‘The Adventurer’. He is famous for drawing child educational cartoons, monthly Myanmar hero cartoons, rural customs and monastery laugher cartoons.
The value of this project should not be underestimated, not only in raising awareness of visitors, but also in the facilitation of cooperation between a set of very different people who have never worked together before. We are particularly delighted to illustrate the guidelines in five very different cartoon styles, reflecting the diversity of Myanmar culture.
The Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, assisted by the Hanns Seidel Foundation from Germany, supported the establishment of this project. It is a viable first step to create more aware visitors and to tackle the momentous task of establishing genuine sustainability in Myanmar. It is hoped that these guidelines will prove useful to visitors.
1 The Myanmar people are friendly, helpful and polite.
2 Respect the Myanmar people and their unique traditions.
3 Don’t take any photos that may make people feel embarrassed.
4 Do smile.
5 Don’t point with your foot.
6 Wear decent clothes when visiting religious sites.
7 Do tuck away your feet.
8 Don’t touch anyone on the head.
9 Please learn the basic words of Myanmar language.
10 Women travelers are very safe in Myanmar.
11 Don’t kiss in public.
12 Don’t disturb people praying or meditating.
13 Calling with your finger up means calling for a challenge.
14 Please learn the local customs before visiting ethnic minority villages.
15 Do try Myanmar traditional transport facilities.
16 Visitors should be understanding when experiencing electricity outages.
17 Don’t touch the robe of a monk.
18 Spread your wealth, use your money wisely.
19 Myanmar is a cultural destination.
20 Myanmar currency should be exchanged at the official exchange counters and banks.
21 If tourists wish to help the people of Myanmar, they should consider creative ways to contribute to communities, not to individuals.
22 Giving money or sweets to children is not advisable.
23 Myanmar people are delighted when tourists participate in their festivals.
24 Using drugs is illegal in Myanmar.
25 Help protect Myanmar wildlife by refusing to purchase wildlife products.
26 To maintain Myanmar’s unique heritage, do not buy antiques. Buy arts and crafts instead.
27 Help us keep Myanmar clean.
28 Practice safe sex.
29 Do not go where you are advised not to go.
30 Relax and enjoy your holiday!
Myanmar has an early civilization, a long and exciting history dating back to the 500 B.C (Thuwannabhumi - Thaton) and to the 1st century with archaeological evidences of the Pyu kingdoms of Beikthano (Visnu) (1st - 5th centuries A.D), Thayekhittaya (Srikshetra) (1st - 9th centuries A.D), and Halin (Hanlin) (3rd - 9th centuries A.D). Only when the King Anawratha unified the country and founded The First Myanmar Empire with its capital in Bagan in the early 11th century, Myanmar cultural and civilization had its full bloom since then. The empire lasted till the end of 13th century producing a glorious civilization whose monuments still endure.
The Bagan Empire was earlier than 20 years before the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The Second Myanmar Empire was founded by the King Bayintnaung in the middle of the 16th century with its capital in Hanthawady (Bago). The last Myanmar Empire was established by the King Alaungphaya in 1752, and had a number of capitals, the last being Mandalay. At the zenith of this Empire, the British annexed Myanmar in three stages, in 1825, 1852 and 1885 and became a British colony. In 1942 the Japanese occupied Myanmar till the Allied Forces returned in 1945. Under the leadership of General Aung San, all Myanmar was united and regained its long last sovereignty and independence on 4th January 1948 after more than 100 years under the colonial regime.
The new Myanmar (Burmese) government, faced many problems, but the declaration party, AFPFL, won the elections complete success in 1951 and 1956. In 1958, however, there developed a crack between the Prime Minister U Nu's followers and another faction in AFPFL, which hard-pressed the country to the brink of civil war. Upon the request of U Nu, General Ne Win set up an intervening military government and restored order. He ruled until elections were held in 1960, in which U Nu's faction won a complete success victory and he regained his premiership. As he could no longer control the political and ethnic disputes, Ne Win seized the government in a bloodless take-over in March 1962 to hold Burma together. General Ne Win and his Revolutionary Council wanted to transform Burma into a socialist nation, founded the Burma Socialist Programme Party and ruled the country until 1988, when large numbers of Burmese demonstrated against the government and called for an end to one-party rule.
The military had to take over the power since the whole country was in turmoil, and established the State Law and Order Restoration Council and allowed multiparty elections to take place in May 1990. The Council also changed the official name of the country from the Union of Burma to the Union of Myanmar. The Council followed market-oriented economic policy. The military government was simplified in 1997 and untouched its name to the State Peace and Development Council.
After 2011 election, our country has some change in political. The new government make some change in politic and relationship with foreign country.In April 2012 will held by-election and participate including Daw Ag San Su Kyi who the winner of novel prize. So, most of foreign country are interesting in our country to visit and to investment.
We are proud of our Myanmar cultural heritage and we wish to see you enjoy Myanmar's beautiful sceneries with our excellent services.
The land was also known as Suvannabhumi, â€œGolden Landâ€ in ancient times, and today, with its rich natural resources and diversity of attractions, it still deserves to be called the Golden Land. Myanmar is the largest country in the Southeast Asia region with a land area of 676,577 square km; it is slightly smaller than Texas, nearly twice of Germany and larger than France and Britain combined. It is bordered by People's Republic of China on the north and northeast, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Kingdom of Thailand on the east and southeast, Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal on the south and the People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Republic of India on the west.
The dominating color of the national flag is red. The rectangular space at the upper left corner is blue. In it could be seen the figure of a paddy stalk and a pinion encircled by 14 white stars of uniform size. The paddy represents the peasants while the pinion stands for the workers who form the majority of the people in the country, 14 uniform white stars symbolize the equal status and union spirit of the 7 States and 7 Divisions that constitute the Union of Myanmar. The white in the flag signifies purity; the red indicates bravery and upright nature of the people; and the blue stands as a symbol of peace and stability in the country.
Myanmar has a population of over 54 million (2003 est.) and the Bamar(Burmese) make about 70%. Yangon, the capital and the main gate way to Myanmar, has a population of nearly 5.3 million.
The term Myanmar embraces over 135 ethnic groups living together and speaking their own dialects. The major ethnic races are Kachin, Kayah, Karin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakhine & Shan who are descendants of three main branches: The Mon- Khmer, the Tibeto- Burman, and the Thai- Chinese, live in seven states and seven divisions in Myanmar.
Myanmar has a tropical climate. Temperatures of Mandalay, in central Myanmar is average 68˚F (20˚C) in January and 85˚F (29˚C) in July. Temperature of Yangon is average 77˚F (25˚C) in January and 80˚F (27˚C) in July. Myanmar has three seasons called Rainy or Monsoon, Cool and Dry, and Summer. The Summer is from late February to about mid-May. Even in low land likes Yangon, temperature exceeds about 40˚C. The Rainy Season lasts from late May to October. Rainfall varies greatly from region to region. If you wish to visit during this season, please do not forget to bring along the rain coats. The Cool and Dry Season starts from late October and ends in the mid-February. It is the most pleasant season for travellers.
The official language is Myanmar, the spoken language differs slightly from region to region and the minority ethnic groups have their own languages and dialects. English is spoken by many and is widely understood. Some Myanmar know French, German, and Mandarin.
Myanmar lies between the two great civilizations of the world, India and China, its culture is blend of both with the development of its own distinctive characteristics. Buddhism has a great influence on daily life of the Myanmar who preserves the traditions of close family ties, respect for the elders and devotion to Buddhist teachings. Myanmar People are known for their generosity, simple hospitality and with a blend of serenity and friendliness. Bagan and Mandalay are the seats of Myanmar culture.
The main religion in Burma is Theravada Buddhism which has been the official religion since the 11th century. About 90% of the Burmese people follow Buddhism. Another 4% are Christians (converted during the years of British colonialism, when missionaries were allowed; they have not been allowed in since Independence in 1948). About an equal number are Muslims; although the government claims not to practice religious discrimination, many Muslims have fled to neighboring Bangladesh in recent years, claiming that they have been persecuted. In addition, a number of tribal peoples practice forms of Animism and Shamanism. However, Theravada Buddhism is ingrained in Burmese history and culture and the country is often defined by it. Every town or village has a monastery, monks are highly visible throughout the country, and every hilltop or riverside, every clump of trees, seems to have a Buddhist shrine or pagoda. The easily recognized landmark of Burma is the Shwedagon Pagoda in the capital Yangon (Rangoon).
Installation of telephones and the cost of calling are prohibitively expensive for most people. To call overseas for two minutes would cost more than most earn in a month.
Telephones – main lines in use are 503,900 (2005).
Telephones – mobile cellular: 5,400,000 (2012) 
Telephone numbers in Myanmar are 8 to 11 digits long including the trunk prefix 0. In Yangon, the format is 01 MMM MMMM e.g. 01 243 5774 In Mandalay, the format is 02 MM MMM e.g. 02 33 655 In Nay Pyi Taw, the format is 067 MMM MMM e.g. 067 353 241 In other places, the format is 0AA MM MMM For mobiles, the format is 09 MMMM MMMM e.g. 09 1772 7978
The Internet in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) has been available since 2000 when the first Internet connections were established. Beginning in September 2011, the historically pervasive levels of Internet censorship in Burma were significantly reduced. Prior to September 2011 the military government worked aggressively to limit and control Internet access through software-based censorship, infrastructure and technical constraints, and laws and regulations with large fines and lengthy prison sentences for violators. In 2015, the internet users significantly increased to 12.6% with the introduction of faster mobile 3G internet by transnational telecommunication companies, Telenor and Ooredoo, and later joined by national Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT).
Myanmar Traditional Foods Because Myanmar has diverse geographical features, favourable seasonal conditions and is naturally endowed with fertile soil and water resources, it boasts an abundant supply of food in a great variety all year around. Myanmar people enjoy rice as their main food and it comprises about 75% of the diet. Rice is served with meat or fish, soup, salad and vegetables all cooked in their own ways, and some relishes to complement the meal. Most traditional snacks, which are rich in variety and taste, are generally made with rice or glutinous rice.