Myanmar only recently opened to tourism which is probably one of the reasons why everyone who visits this country is so fascinated by it. It not only offers stunning places to visit, but it has cordial and helpful people who are every day discovering opportunities brought to them by a new democratic regime.

These are 20 reasons why I consider Myanmar to be one of the best off-the-beaten-track countries to visit and why you should add it to your bucket list.

Myanmar does not find its way onto many SEA itineraries - but it should! Here are 20 surprising facts about Myanmar you didn't know.

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1) Attracting rain with fire rockets

Based on tradition, people from the Pa’o tribe use fire rockets to encourage rain during the planting season. Firing rockets are usually accompanied by festive activities such as singing or dancing.

2) Hipster beer openers

Beer openers made of a stick of wood and screw can be found on every corner – such a good idea that in Europe we also sell these as a designer product for big bucks.

3) Big brother is watching you

Wherever you stay, you have to report from where you came and where you’re going afterwards. Myanmar always knows where you are!

Myanmar does not find its way onto many SEA itineraries - but it should! Here are 20 surprising facts about Myanmar you didn't know.

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4) Freezing buses

Even though the temperature in Myanmar in a dry season can easily reach above 30 degrees during a day, don’t forget to take warm clothes. The night buses that go from one touristic place to another are often freezing and you can definitely use long trousers and a hoodie.

5) Rum is cheaper than Coke

Who knows why, but you can easily buy a 700ml bottle of Mandalay rum for 2000 MMK while a 300 ml Coke costs 1000 MKK – definitely a good reason to have few rum & cokes while in Myanmar.

6) In the dry season, some villages suffer from water scarcity

The dry season in Myanmar starts in October and finishes around April. During those months some villages have difficulty with their water supply as there is no water inland, meaning they have to go twice a day to get the water from mountains. Sometimes the water is 20 minutes away from the village, sometimes more. Life can be difficult in Myanmar’s villages.

Myanmar does not find its way onto many SEA itineraries - but it should! Here are 20 surprising facts about Myanmar you didn't know.

 

7) Opium growing used to be the only option to make a decent living in some areas

If you are born in a farming family in Myanmar, you will most probably become a farmer as well. If you are born in a village that doesn’t have enough resources for farming, it’s very difficult to earn a living. That is why some of the villages grew opium in the past, as it was the only option how to make money. Since opium growing is now forbidden by law, it is slowly being replaced by avocados and coffee.

8) Different languages for different tribes

Myanmar consists of many different tribes and minorities. Each of the tribe has their own language which greatly differs from the official Burmese language. Even though Burmese is taught at schools, tribal language is usually taught during summer holidays in every village monastery and it is compulsory for the kids to take the classes at least for few weeks.

9) 7 years of elementary school

Kids have to go to school for 7 years. Schools are usually in every village and students and teachers are dressed in long green skirts and white shirts, as white and green symbolize learning.

Myanmar does not find its way onto many SEA itineraries - but it should! Here are 20 surprising facts about Myanmar you didn't know.

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10) Buses work as FedEx

There is no postal service for delivering packages; therefore most people use buses and vans to transport their parcels from one place to another.

11) Betel Nuts

It’s gross when you see someone spitting the betel out of their mouth for the first time, but you get used to it. Locals say that chewing betel is good for oral hygiene; however after seeing the teeth of some Burmese people I highly doubt it!

12) Phones everywhere

Everyone has a smartphone in Myanmar. Kids play games on them, small children watch youtube videos and monks take pictures with them.

Myanmar does not find its way onto many SEA itineraries - but it should! Here are 20 surprising facts about Myanmar you didn't know.

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13) Monks collect food

Monks and nuns are following the life of Buddha, therefore they collect the food from people, the same way Buddha did. They can’t ask for the food and when they receive it, they can’t say “thank you” for it. Also, eye contact isn’t allowed.

14) President Obama went to Shwedagon Pagoda

The exact day of the week you were born is very important in Myanmar. In the beautiful Shwedagon Pagoda, everyone can make a typical ritual on his or her day. Even Obama performed this ritual here.

15) Motorbikes repaired by 10-year-olds

If you get a flat tire, make sure that it happens in Myanmar. Every little kid knows how to repair it, plus it’s super cheap.

Myanmar does not find its way onto many SEA itineraries - but it should! Here are 20 surprising facts about Myanmar you didn't know.

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16) 8 days a week

In Myanmar, the week lasts for 8 days. Wednesday is actually divided into two parts, morning and afternoon.

17) Every man has to become monk at least for 7 days

During the life of every man, the period of at least 7 days of living like a monk is obligatory. If they decide after 7 days that this life isn’t suitable for them, they can leave.

Myanmar does not find its way onto many SEA itineraries - but it should! Here are 20 surprising facts about Myanmar you didn't know.

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18) Family Frost in the villages

Remember the typical jingle, when the ice-cream seller Family Frost was approaching your town? In Myanmar, they have something similar, except with a motorbike and less varieties of ice cream to choose from.

19) Monks wear maroon, nuns wear pink

It is actually quite hard to distinguish people’s gender without hair. However, in Myanmar, the rule is simple. Pink robes for nuns and maroon robes for monks.

20) Tanaka

As soon as you land in Myanmar, you will notice that Burmese women have some beige paste on their faces. This cosmetic paste from the ground bark is called Thanaka and local women apply it to their faces for sun protection and a cooling effect.

Myanmar does not find its way onto many SEA itineraries - but it should! Here are 20 surprising facts about Myanmar you didn't know.

So there it is! 20 interesting facts about one of the most interesting countries I’ve ever visited. Check out more practical information about Myanmar in my rough travel guide. Also, if you are a traveler with an adventurous soul, make sure that you put this country on your bucket list – you can find out another 10 reasons on why you should visit Myanmar in my other post. Make sure that you explore before it gets too busy and touristy.

Do you have some other interesting facts about Myanmar? Do comment below, there is definitely more than 20!


This is a guest post by Johana Adamkova.

Johana is a founder and blogger for 101 Words of Travel, a blog featuring travel tips and guides from all over the world. Currently, she is traveling, working and blogging from Southeast Asia. To get tips about Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand or Myanmar, visit her blog. To stay in touch, follow her on Facebook or Instagram.