With over 130 distinct ethnic groups, Myanmar has a wealth of different cultures, each with its own set of traditions: from cuisine and dress to celebration, faith and occupation.

Visitors are welcome to discover Myanmar’s diversity of traditions and are urged to do so responsibly to help foster cultural understanding and create lasting bonds.

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Myanmar’s food has a special identity beloved by locals. Although its neighbouring 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.

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Meditation Retreat

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.


Pagodas and Temples

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.

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The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon

The monumental golden tower of the Shwedagon Pagoda stands proud at almost 100 metres tall, reaching high above Yangon's sprawling skyline. No matter where you are in the city, you'll be able to pick out this pagoda among the old mansions and tea houses. It's one of the largest and most sacred religious sites in Burma.

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Bronze Buddha statue at the Mahu Muni Pagoda in Mandalay

Considered the second most important temple in Burma, some Buddhists believe the Lord Buddha himself resides in the bronze cast Buddha statue here.

This four-metre-tall image is believed to have been made in the Rakhine State, where legend has it that the king was so impressed with the Buddha's teachings he forged the statue out of bronze. The statue has survived warfare and fire, and is an integral part of any visit to the pagoda.


Temples of Indein at Inle Lake

On the west bank of Inle Lake, the Temples of Indein are a cluster of hundreds of stupas slowly being consumed by nature. Many of the buildings are overgrown with bushes, which makes exploring the site so fascinating – trees burst out from the top of domes, while weathered stone carvings of mythical animals stand guard around every corner.

The first of the temples were built in the 12th century by the princes of Shan (the state in which Inle Lake is located) and added to, with an almost childlike lack of planning, up until the 18th century.

The temples are very similar to Angkor Wat in Cambodia and one of the best ways to appreciate their scale and grandeur is from the top of the hill.

Immerse yourself in the vast array of cultures in Myanmar

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