A country’s climate is the de facto consideration in choosing what clothes to bring. However, other aspects such as culture and religion should be kept in mind to show sensitivity to the lifestyle and beliefs of the locals. Myanmar is still a fairly conservative country. There are distinct expectations both from men and from women, and these expectations, just like other places in the world, spill over the kinds of clothes people should wear in different settings. For the woman planning to experience the wonders of Myanmar, here are some general guidelines.
1. For most of Myanmar, warm weather clothing should be adequate. Like elsewhere in Southeast Asia, the best choice is thin synthetic fabrics. Wicking clothing will absorb and dry sweat from your body. They are also easy to wash for they dry quickly and do not wrinkle. Also, try light casual cotton wear and sandals or slippers for footwear. Hats and sunglasses will come handy as well. But if you are planning to visit the mountains or other higher elevation areas, never hesitate to bring enough cold weather clothing. Light jerkins or cardigans are advisable for the cold season. In Myanmar, however, there are biting cold nights that turn to mornings with pleasant temperature.
2. Tourists’ favorite activities in the country are exploring the natural sceneries and the holy temples which mean a lot of walking. Pick out the sturdiest sandals at hand for trekking or hiking. Try those without straps at the back so it will not be a hassle to take off and put on when you decide to go to holy places in between your hikes. Absolutely no footwear is allowed in pagodas and monasteries. Though other religious places are not as strict, socks are not generally allowed as well. For the sake of convenience, however, try scheduling days solely for sacred grounds so you can opt for flip-flops for temple days and plain old trustworthy shoes for others.
3. Tank tops or shorts are obviously a no-no when visiting religious grounds, but what about in other places? As already mentioned, Myanmar is a conservative country. It has a widely Buddhist culture, so revealing or suggestive clothing is never a good idea. Some women wear sleeveless blouses, but avoid tight or low cut tank tops, mini skirts, halter tops, tight sweaters and the likes. Do not wear shorts. The less skin, the better. Slacks for women are acceptable. Plus, capri and long pants will help protect you from bugs and other related diseases such as dengue.
4. If shorts and sleeveless tops are your necessities during travelling, buy a couple of Burmese longyi for your all-around wrap-around garment. You can wear it over shorts or you can use it to cover your shoulders when visiting temples. Both men and women wear the longyi on a regular basis. It is a dress usually made of breathable fabric with specific designs, colors, and patterns to indicate if it is for a man or a woman. For women, the longyi is worn with a blouse. It is usually tied around the waist by tugging all of the fabric to one side. Women fold it back at the hip, then they tuck it into the waist’s opposite side. Wearing this traditional long skirt is easy and convenient. It also makes for a good ice-breaker among the locals, showing your respect and interest in their culture.