Best time to visit: between November and February, when the temperature dips and the rains stop. The monsoon season can last from May to October, while March is often one of the hottest months. It may be tempting to visit during a big celebration like Maha Thingyan (or Water Festival), which usually occurs in mid-April, but this can be a rather sleepy period, when many businesses shut for over a week.
Key phrases: like many southeast Asians, Burmese people will express delight if an outsider learns even a few words of their language. And is there a more melodic way to say hello than “mingalaba”?
Burmese food: often overshadowed by the cuisines of its neighbours India, China and Thailand, Burmese dishes pack a punch all of their own. From tart salads made from pickled tea leaves to desserts with a sweetness that comes not from sugar but from coconut milk and tapioca, there’s something new to explore in every bite. Don’t leave without trying the unofficial national dish, mohinga. This bowl of Burmese noodles swimming in a broth of fish, shallots and topped with a hard-boiled egg is not to be missed.
Etiquette: Myanmar has one of the highest percentages of Buddhists in the world, and many etiquette-related matters stem from the deep beliefs here. Avoid touching another person’s head, which is considered a sacred part of the body. The foot is considered impure, so it’s rude to sit with your feet pointing at anyone. When passing over money or pointing, try to use your right hand rather than the left, as the latter is considered unclean.