Guide for Visiting Temples in Myanmar
Myanmar is unrivalled for the numbers of temples and pagodas in Southeast Asia. A trip to the iconic and picture perfect Bagan is a must do during any Myanmar adventure. Our memories of the pagoda and temple filled landscape, the endless sunrises and sunsets and the early morning bike rides on the dusty Bagan roads will stay with us forever. From sunrises and sunsets, to what to pack for a Bagan adventure, here’s our temples visiting guide to help plan a perfect Bagan visit!
Respect the Buddha Statues
Never touch, sit near, or climb on a Buddha statue or the raised platform. Get permission before taking photographs and never do so during worship.
Research the temples and have a sunrise, sunset and visiting shortlist
Bagan is home to 2,200 temples and pagodas and it’s highly unlikely that you will have time to visit every single one! Do your research in advance and make a shortlist.
Mind your head!
The temples are most certainly not built for anyone over 5 foot! Mind your head and expect to squeeze through small spaces to get to the top. There’s often a lot of climbing involved in getting to the prime sunrise and sunset positions and sometimes great heights have to be scaled!
Remove your shoes and socks
Wearing sandals or flip-flops is obviously a wise option as shoes should always be removed and left outside of the main worship area. This isn’t just good sense; in countries like Myanmar, this is the law.
Turn off mobile phones, remove headphones, lower your voice, avoid inappropriate conversation, remove hats, and no smoking or chewing gum when entering an actual consecrated area, where locals go to commune with the sacred; any hint of irreverence might cause deep offense.
Respect the monks
If a monk is sitting, show respect by sitting before starting a conversation. Avoid sitting higher than a monk if you can help it. Besides, only use your right hand when giving or receiving something from a monk. It's extremely important that women should never touch a monk.
Don’t disturb people praying or meditating
Avoid loud talk and should take care not to touch them unless you want to be considered impolite.
Shoulders should be covered and long pants worn rather than shorts. Dress should be modest, so both men and women should avoid shorts cut above the knee. Mini-skirts and tight or revealing clothing should not be worn. In brief, never wear clothes which are revealing. It is a good idea to carry a scarf in your bag. You can use it to cover your upper part when you need and it is good for sun protection too.
Taking photos with your back pointing to a Buddha statue is considered disrespectful. Generally, you should not do a selfie by a statue. Another action that you should not do is to photograph the monks without permission. Burmese people are nice, they usually feel happy to take photos with you.
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