Anyone that is fond of beaches, pagodas, lakes, and the Buddha will find Myanmar to be one of the most interesting places. What you will discover in the country is an interesting cultural experience that is not present anywhere else. So how about familiarizing yourself with some fun facts about Myanmar before visiting?
These include learning about its history, culture, people, and everything else that this beautiful place has to offer. Here are some interesting Myanmar facts that will give you a preview of this country.
Historical Facts About Myanmar
Myanmar has a long history that dates back more than thirteen-thousand years ago. Here are the historic Myanmar facts that shed some light on its evolution to the present state.
The Entire Country Used To Be Known As Burma Till The Late 20th Century
Burma was the official name for the country till the end of the twentieth century. At the beginning of the name change, many other countries refused to recognize the name Myanmar.
However, slowly and gradually, more countries agreed to the new name. And now most people call this country Myanmar, but the people still call themselves Burmese.
In 1824, The British Took Control Of Burma
The British colonized many countries, including Burma, in 1824. During that time, the country came to be known as British Burma. Their rule lasted till WWII, after which the Japanese took control of this place until 1945.
Rules For Driving Changes Within A Night In 1970
Since the British used to rule the country, the rule was to drive to the left following British practices. However, in 1970, the government decided to change the driving rules to the right.
Because of that, you will notice that half of the cars are left-hand drives while the remainder is right-hand drives. This is one of the peculiar facts about Myanmar.
The Royals Used To Keep Purebred Burmese Cats As Pets
Cats have served as royal pets for a long time now, and this used to be the case in Burma too. Ancient royal families kept these purebred cats as pets, and they were also the guardians of many temples.
Unfortunately, there was no one to protect the bloodline of these cats. Because of this, the cats were known to be gone by the late twentieth century.
However, a recent breeding program has revived the existence of these cats in Myanmar again.
Cultural Facts About Myanmar
People that enjoy exploring new cultures will find Myanmar to be an eye-opener. There are many things in the culture you will not find anywhere else. Here are some interesting Burma facts about the culture.
People In The Country Eat Tea Leaves
People in Myanmar don’t just drink tea; they also eat the leaves, which are known as lahpet. A famous dish you will find in the country is tea leaf salad (lahpet thohk). Locals serve this salad to their guests as a sign of their generosity and hospitality.
This is just one of the many interesting foods in Myanmar you will find the country. There is certainly a culinary adventure to be had here.
You Will Find Many Men Wearing Skirts (Lyongi)
When you enter Myanmar, the first thing you will notice is that a lot of men wear skirts. However, in the local language, this is not a skirt but a lyongi. It comes in various colors, sizes, shapes, and even women wear it, as it is part of the local dressing.
You Must Try The Mohinga When Traveling
You can characterize Mohinga as somewhat of a national dish of Myanmar, which is why you need to try this Burmese dish when you visit the country.
Mohinga consists of herbs, shallot, and fish broth, along with rice noodles. Most of the time, you will find this dish served with banana tree pith.
There are many restaurants and even street food stalls that offer Mohinga. Make sure you try a few to get the authentic taste of this traditional Burmese food.
People Take Astrology Very Seriously Here
If there is one thing that people in Myanmar take seriously, it is astrology. However, you will notice that the zodiac in the country consists of the standard twelve zodiac signs along with eight-weekday signs and twenty-seven lunar mansions.
The most popular astrologer in the country is E Thi, and many rich people go to her to get their fortunes told.
Interesting Facts About Myanmar For Kids
Here are some of the fascinating facts about Myanmar that are interesting for kids to enhance their knowledge of this beautifully diverse country.
There Are Over A Thousand Species Of Birds Here
There are more than 1,100 bird species in the country, out of which 68 are globally threatened, 2 have been introduced by the locals, and 7 are endemic.
Myanmar has many places where you can go to observe different birds in all their glory. For example, some of the most popular spots include Mount Victoria, Bagan, and the Ayeyarwady delta.
It Is One Of The Few Countries That Don’t Use The Metric System
There are only a handful of countries in Asia that don’t use the metric system, and Myanmar is one of them. That is because the people here use the Imperial System in its place.
So, for example, weight is measured here in pounds, and distance is measured in inches rather than centimeters.
The Country Has The Most Exquisite Rubies
Rubies have a beautiful color and shine, and you can find some of the best ones in the world in Myanmar. They have an abundance of these precious gems in all colors that range from pink to pigeon blood and more.
The locals mine these rubies from Mong Hsu and Mogok Valley, which are two of the best places to uncover the most exquisite rubies.
It Is One Of The Most Diverse Countries
At first glance, Myanmar might not look like a diverse country, but you will be surprised to know that it has around 135 indigenous ethnic groups.
In addition, these groups collectively speak more than sixty languages. This is more diverse than the United States, which is why you will find a mix of culture and diversity here.
Useful Myanmar Facts For Travelers
Are you planning to visit anytime soon? If you are, here are some fun facts about Myanmar that can help take your trip to the next level.
People Will Tell You Your Fortune At The Shwedagon Pagoda
The Shwedagon Pagoda is a top attraction in Myanmar, and your trip will be incomplete without visiting this place in Yangon.
An interesting fact about this place is that there are many people who can read your fortune for you. You will have to climb to the stupa, and there will be many offerings that you can buy.
You don’t have to believe in the readings, but it can be a fun activity to experience while you are here. So, stop at a fortune teller and listen to what they have to say.
Locals Use The Circular Train Regularly, And So Can You
The locals use the circular train in Yangon for their daily commute. If you want to get a truly local experience, then hop on this train too. It will give you an insight into Myanmar that you might not see regularly. These include street food stalls, backward towns, railway stations, garbage dumps, and much more.
There Are Floating Gardens And Villages At The Inle Lake
The Inle Lake in Myanmar is huge, as it spans more than thirteen miles. There are floating gardens and villages located on this lake, where the ethnic community of Intha resides. These people take boats to get from one place to another, and they have floating farms where they participate in agricultural activities.
You can stay near this lake to experience the local life of villagers and farmers in Myanmar. There are also many shops here that offer intricate local arts and crafts items.
You Can Use US Dollars As A Traveler
While you need the MMK (Myanmar Kyat) to purchase things, you can also use US dollars when you are in the country.
Many people conduct daily transactions in US dollars, particularly in tourist areas and industry. ATMs might not be the most reliable option, so bring some US dollars in cash to minimize any hassle while traveling around.
The Biggest Festival In Myanmar Is Thingyan (Water Festival)
The Buddhist New Year begins in April, and this is when Thingyan (water festival) takes place. It consists of water fights, parties, traditional dances, prayers, and much more. That is why April is the best time to visit Myanmar if you want to experience this festival in all its glory.
One thing you will notice is that people also sprinkle water on their heads during this festival. The reason for this is that the water is thought to wash any evil deeds done in the past. That is also the symbolism behind water fights, as water is seen as purifying.
You Can Explore The Himalayan Foothills
Putao is a small town in the Himalayan foothills of Myanmar. The good thing about this place is that you can trek up to the mountain from here.
Standing at an elevation of at least 12,000 feet, the area is a little hard to access. But this also explains why the natural beauty here is unmatched, and one of the highlights you can enjoy if you make it there.
Common Facts About Myanmar
Now that you know a lot about Myanmar, there are still some basic facts about Burma that will help you understand the country even better.
A Common Practice Among People Is To Chew Betel Leaves
The locals love to chew on betel leaves because it is somewhat of a stimulant, just like caffeine. However, eating the leaves causes their mouths to turn red and full of water. Most people spit these leaves out on the road, which explains the red stains on the walls and streets.
The Local Makeup Style Is Known As Thanaka
The first time you visit Myanmar and look at the locals, you might think that they put mud or sand on their faces. However, that is not the case at all. Instead, this is the local makeup style known as Thanaka that is common throughout the country.
The powder is made of bark that comes from a special tree. The idea behind wiping it on the face is sun protection. Besides that, some locals will also tell you that Thanaka is great for the skin.
People Love Playing Chinlone
Chinlone is a competitive game, and people love playing it in their free time with others. This is where six players have to keep a cane ball aloft by creatively juggling with their feet. The people pass the cane ball back and forth to each other.
Chinlone began in the country as a form of entertainment for the royals more than a thousand years ago. However, you will still find many people indulging in this sport.
Wildlife Is Rampant In The Country
There are many jungles throughout the country, so you can imagine the amount of wildlife here.
The country is home to more than 300 reptiles and over 300 mammal species, including leopards, tigers, elephants, wild buffalos, and much more. Keep in mind that you will only find some of these majestic animals when you visit the highlands.
People Like To Carry Things On Their Heads
When you are visiting the country, you will notice a lot of women carrying baskets on their heads. It is more convenient for them to do this because holding things in their hands all day can get tiring.
This is also an efficient method of transportation that allows them to carry more weight and quantity. You will find street vendors selling food and other items from these baskets.
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Other Interesting Facts About Myanmar
Here are some other fun Myanmar facts that will enhance your knowledge about this country.
The Climate Is Favorable For Making Wine
While wine is not one of the things Myanmar is most famous for, the climate of the country is ideal for growing grapes.
That is why there are still a handful of vineyards in Myanmar, as the locals are trying to make their own wine. Some places also offer wine-tasting tours so that you can have a taste of the local produce.
Naypyidaw Means The King’s Abode
The capital of the country is Naypyidaw, and it means the king’s abode in the local language. The city is relatively new, as construction began here in 2002 and finished in 2012. So, it has been a little over ten years since this city is now the capital of Myanmar.
People Follow Rituals To Prevent Misfortune
Just like astrology, people also believe in magic, which is why they follow rituals to prevent misfortune. For example, the rules for driving changed overnight because this is what the fortune teller of General Ne Win’s wife told him to do.
On the other hand, U Nu, the first prime minister of the country, ordered the creation of over sixty-thousand pagodas throughout Myanmar for protection from evil spirits.
So, these rituals don’t just affect the daily lives of people but also governmental decisions. If you are interested in how this works, you can also visit one of the many fortune tellers in the country and gain some interesting insights from the discussion.
There Are More Than Seven Thousand Diamonds On Top Of The Shwedagon Pagoda
The Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the most famous landmarks in Myanmar, is covered in more than 7,000 diamonds on the top.
The largest diamond sits on top of the pagoda, and it is around seventy-two carats. That is why it is one of the most beautiful sites to visit in the country.
The imposing temple will have you in awe as it uses around sixty tons of precious metal to cover the entire space. These include sapphires, rubies, gold, and much more. You will also notice that the main dome of the temple is incredibly tall; it rises more than 110 meters into the sky.
Discovering More Fun Facts About Myanmar
Myanmar is a fascinating country with an incredibly rich history and culture. From the ancient sport of Chinlone to their unique method of carrying things on their heads, there are plenty of interesting facts about Myanmar that will leave you curious and intrigued.
Not only does the country have abundant wildlife but also beautiful historic structures. Additionally, there are rituals still followed by locals today that are a big influence on the local culture.
Be sure to plan a trip to this Asian gem that is often overlooked. You will no doubt discover more interesting Myanmar facts throughout your travels!