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Wondering what to wear in Myanmar (Burma)? Find out exactly what type of clothes you need to bring! We’re covering Bagan, Inle Lake, Yangon, and Mandalay along with some helpful travel tips, too!
What to Wear in Myanmar
Written By: Annie Jarvis
I spent two weeks exploring Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) in March, where I visited the beautiful Bagan, Inle Lake, Yangon, and Mandalay.
This incredibly diverse country is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling around Southeast Asia; it’s fast becoming another bucket list country like Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Myanmar, however, is still seen as a hidden treasure when it comes to Southeast Asia travel, and while it is now (by 2015) set up extremely well for tourism, it isn’t crowded with swarms of travelers like its neighboring countries.
Versatility is the key to a capsule wardrobe. Learn more in my guide!
Following the itinerary from this travel guide, we flew into Yangon from Bangkok, traveled overland through the various destinations, then flew back to Bangkok from Mandalay.
This was a good strategy so we didn’t backtrack. Traveling on our own was easy and coach buses were mostly comfortable. Unlike information available online prior to 2015, it’s not difficult to travel on your own anymore.
The secret to packing light is to use packing cubes to compress your clothing shown in this video!
If you’re thinking of heading to this incredible place, here’s a list of what to wear in Myanmar:
Maxi Skirt / Merino Wool Tee / Backpack / Anti-Chafe Balm / Sandals
My adventure started in Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, which is known for some of the country’s best food and most famous for the Schwedagon Paya, a Buddhist temple.
The most important thing to note when visiting the Schwedagon Paya is the strict dress code. Knees and shoulders need to be covered, so pack conservative clothing like a long skirt and t-shirt. You don’t need to worry about footwear for this temple, as no shoes are allowed.
If you don’t bring clothing that covers your knees and shoulders (men and women) are required to rent a sarong to wrap around their body before entering the temple.
Getting around Yangon is relatively easy–you can either jump in a taxi or walk. Walking around the city is a great way to explore; there is a beautiful park located in the must-visit Kandawgyi Lake. Pack a pair of comfortable sandals that will allow you to walk around for a few hours without getting tired.
Tip: Yangon and other areas of Myanmar are extremely hot and humid. Pack some anti-chafing products and water in a small backpack when you’re out and about for the day!
Shorts / Sandals / Sunscreen / Merino Wool Tee / Waterproof Jacket /
Inle Lake is an absolutely stunning part of Myanmar. You can hop on a bike and ride around the town, jump in a boat and see the local fishermen at work, or hike in the nearby mountains.
Cycling and boat trips are big tourist attractions in Inle Lake; if you’re planning on joining in, bring a pair of comfortable sandals and suitable clothing like shorts and a t-shirt, so you can climb in and out of the boat with ease.
Do not miss Inle Lake! It’s breathtaking and the tour around the lake is a must. There may be one or two “touristy” inclusions on the trip but look past that to enjoy the beauty of tranquil life here in the lake before it really becomes a show put on just for tourists.
If you’re looking to go on a hike to Kalaw, then a decent pair of hiking boots and plenty of water is a must. Inle also gets plenty of rain, so pack a rain jacket for the downpour.
You will also need plenty of sunblock as you are bound to get a sunburn in the middle of the lake.
Tip: The best way to get from Yangon to Inle Lake is via bus, which takes around 12 hours. Make sure you pack some snacks and a warm layer, as the air-con will be on full blast. We booked a coach through our accommodation and it was surprisingly comfortable – it even had movies!
T-shirt / Headlamp / Ankle Pant / Sunglasses / Sneaker / Sunscreen / Mosquito Repellant
Bagan is the temple town of Myanmar and one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. This magical town is where travelers go to watch the sunrise from the top of the Buddhist temples as hot air balloons set off in the distance.
In August 2016, a strong earthquake killed one person and damaged many temples in Bagan, however, (to our knowledge) travel to this area has not been affected and travelers continue to visit Myanmar.
Similar to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, there are a range of temples in Bagan for tourists to visit. When you plan what to wear in Myanmar (or other parts of Southeast Asia) you should always dress respectfully when visiting religious sites and small towns, covering your shoulders and knees.
A loose, knee-length skirt or airy trousers like these are a great option for covering up while allowing your legs enough movement to climb the steep steps.
Here’s a packing list for Siemp Reap (Angkor Wat)!
There are a variety of ways to get around this town, including walking, horse and cart, and even renting electric bikes. The roads in Bagan are dusty and uneven, so pack some comfortable and secure sandals to help you get around.
Another one of my biggest recommendations for Bagan is a travel headlamp or small torch. If you’re watching the sunrise at one of the temples, you will have to leave your hotel at around 4am and head there in the dark. The only available light comes from other travelers on the road. We walked but you can also take a taxi.
We didn’t get a chance to do the hot air balloon ride and it’s important to note that this is not available year round. If this is something you want to make sure to time your trip around it’s availability.
Don’t forget to pack your sunblock and sunglasses, as well as insect repellent for walking around at night.
Maxi Skirt / Shorts / Merino Wool Tee / Sandals / Sunscreen
Mandalay is an extremely hot and busy city. It’s known to travelers as a transport hub and a destination for the famous sites of Mandalay Hill or the Royal Palace.
We took a boat instead of a bus from Bagan to Mandalay and this was a great experience! We actually almost didn’t get to do it because, like the Bagan balloon rides, the cruise option is not available year round. We were the last group to make the trip before it closed for the season!
If you are visiting religious sites then it is important to dress conservatively, covering your knees and shoulders. However, for exploring the city, a pair of comfortable regular shorts and a tee will be perfect for the hot weather.
Tip: Even if you’re not visiting religious sites, don’t wear clothing that is too revealing. Myanmar is not as touristy as other parts of Southeast Asia, and you may get a lot of attention from the locals.
Want to learn more about what to wear in Myanmar? Here are eight more essentials!
What are your tips on what to wear in Myanmar? Comment below!
For more Southeast Asia packing tips, please read:
- 10 Step Packing Guide for Southeast Asia
- Packing for Cambodia
- What to Wear in Vietnam
- What to Wear in Bangkok and Northern Thailand
Suggested Travel Resources:
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Author Bio: Annie Jarvis is relatively new to the traveling world and has just completed a five month journey around Southeast Asia, India, and the US. She loves diving, skiing, cooking, hiking, and writing about her adventures on her Refreshing the Page blog.
A suggestion: unless things have changed in the last couple of years, I don’t think shorts are the best suggestion for Myanmar.
As mentioned, this is a conservative country so I think either a long skirt or long, loose pants in all situations show respect for the local customs. I never ever saw any locals in shorts.
Also, I would like to mention that in my experience headlamps are essential, not only for those early morning sunrise trips, but also for the not too infrequent power outages that occur in the smaller villages.
Great to be reminded of all the beauty in Myanmar again, thank you!
Hi Linda, thank you for taking the time to share our packing advice for Myanmar with us! Happy travels! ?
Do you recommend a travel backpack or can you get by w a small carry on roller suitecase in Myanmar? Thank you!
Hi Rodney, thanks for your question! We’ll share your question here so the author of the article can reply! 🙂
I just got back from hot Southern India and Sri Lanka. Casual is the dress here. Baggy pants, loose shirts that breathe, and also shirts that cover your shoulder for temples and monasteries.
I was surprised at how much the older folks packed as compared to myself, ( although I am in my 60’s), but I traveled comparably lighter, rinsing undies, ? shirts and ? pants out regularly.
Fashion is not the mode of dressing, comfort is due to the heat and humidity. Although I felt quite fashionable in my Athleta & Lucy pants, Neon Buddah and Lole shirts, Mephisto sandals and Crocs!
Thanks for your insight Barbara! Hope you had a wonderful trip 🙂
It seems negligent and weirdly detached to write about travel in Myanmar so soon after the earthquake there and make no mention of it. Not only are the effects of the earthquake pertinent to travel, but adding information on how to aid in the recovery would not be amiss.
You’re 100% right, we apologize for neglecting to mention this catastrophic event as this article was written months prior to this occurring. We will update the article accordingly as many temples in Bagan were damaged however, to our knowledge, travel to this area has not been affected.