Etiquette (business and temples)
Be mindful of religious customs when visiting Buddhist sites. Shorts and sleeveless tops will be seen as offensive. Shoes and socks should always be removed before entering a pagoda or monastery. Insulting religion is a prosecutable offense and what exactly is considered insulting is up for interpretation. It is traditional to circulate stupas in a clockwise direction, moving, that is, in the same direction as the sun. Keep in mind that temples are unlike Western places of worship, and instead are more fully integrated into everyday life; they are sites not just for meditation and prayer but also meals and children’s games. Life takes place at the temple!
The Burmese are quite formal in their interactions, especially with foreigners and anyone of the opposite gender. They are polite and kind, and expect and appreciate the same in response. It is best to address people by their full title and name. “U” translates to Mr while “Daw” is used to mean Mrs, Ms, or Madam. Even close friends often use the full, formal address!
With regards to business dealings, handshakes are now a conventional form of greeting, but not with women unless she offers hers first. Physical contact with women should always be avoided. Business dress is again conservative: suit and tie for men, knee-length (or longer) skirts for women. When exchanging business cards, use both your hands to present and receive them and make sure to actually look at the card you are given as this all communicates respect.