Best Things to Buy in Myanmar
05 Dec 2018
When it comes to Burma, not only the golden spectacle of sacred religious sites but also a wide range of elegant souvenirs strikes tourists as the most impressive feature. There are a plethora of local highlights you may grasp home for your friends to bookmark this golden land’s trip. Below is the list of top 10 picks for your consideration, regarding the best gifts Burma has got to offer.
The most signature jewellery item easily found in Burma is gemstones, mainly rubies, jade or sapphire stones, which contain high value and appreciation in market. It is also reported that the gemstone industry accounts for almost half of Burma’s GDP. Not only more exquisite but also cheaper are Myanmar’s gemstones, as opposed to other countries’ types. However, there is one thing to bear in mind when you go buying gemstones. As mixed with gold, these jewelleries are easily made fake. To ensure the authentic quality, count on your local tour guide and only select from government - secured sites, one of which is the famous Bogyoke Aung San Market - the most popular touristic bazaar.
The sight of longyi is so common that it becomes the top gift of mind for the best local feel of Burma. This indigenous costume is basically a piece of cloth in traditional patterns, a skirt wrapped around legs. Longyi comes in various textures, from popular to high class, in different types for each gender, and even in diversified prices, depending on the sophistication of design and quality of material. On average, it is sold at $3, an affordable price to take home some for your friends and families (note: price is vary and can go up to $100USD depending on the material and the sophistication of the products). Nowadays, you can also own a customized longyi by your own taste and preference, making longyi more like a fashionable item than a functional wear.
The 2 best places to buy longyi in Myanmar are Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott market) in Yangon and silk workshops in Mandalay where to offer high quality of products and great shopping experience. In Scott market, the shop owners will take your size and make you a perfect fit longyi whenever entering their shops.
Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott Market)
Location: Bogyoke Aung San Rd, Yangon, Myanmar
Opening hour: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m – 5 p.m
The workshops in Mandalay on the other hands, give you a chance to experience the making of a beautiful longyi and a wide range of stunning garments for your Myanmar souvenirs.
3. Sand paintings
Rumour has it that the idea of sand paintings stems from the 1975 earthquake, when local inhabitants made great efforts to save the remains of valuable mural paintings by creating a stuff resembling them. From that point on, sand paintings are coined, becoming the main livelihood of many local people and one of the most beautiful souvenirs as rated by tourists. Apart from sand - the main ingredient, a handful of other like glue, cloths, paint, stylus is required to make this artistic product in several days. Not only the final marvellous painting but the handcrating process itself is impressive, as the skillful and delicate handcraft men focus on each movement with great patience and creativeness to deliver such an astonishing artwork.
Sand painting can be found anywhere in Myanmar, however, the best place to buy is in Bagan. You can find plenty of vendors selling this beautiful product around the Buddhist sites in Bagan temple plain or Nyaung Oo.
Another stunning handcrafted artwork must include tapestries, which are widely considered a symbol of Myanmar’s culture. Similar to sand paintings, it is necessarily required that craftsmen must pay enormous attention and effort into each movement to create such a peculiar souvenirs. Various materials are employed such as cloths, threads, glasses, pearls, gems, making tapestries complicated and awesome artworks for your appreciation. Nowadays, in addition to traditional tapestries, a wide range of products like handbags, purses or blankets made from this technique has also gained popularity among tourists.
Best places to buy this famous Myanmar souvenir is in Mandalay. Price can range from K5,000 to K50,000 ($3 - $33) or more depending on the quality of the products.
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Although regarded as being originated from China and heavily affected by Thailand, Burma’s lacquerware still stand out with its own unique selling point. There are many special designs to determine lacquerware’s uniqueness, namely Thayoe Pan Yun (relief molded), Ka Nyit Yn (incised) and Shwe Zawa Yun (gold leaf). From simple items like bowls or more exquisite ones like ornamentation can be found widely sold in Myanmar, especially Bagan, the richest archaeological site and the highest - quality lacquerware production. Take your time to mingle with local markets and look for the best ones to take home.
As a culturally rich country, Myanmar has treasured many traditional forms of arts and cultures. There are a wide range of gifts like palm leaves, wall murals, parchment, in which the beautiful and diverse culture of Burma is vividly displayed. When it comes to antique arts, one of the most iconic symbol is Marionette. This is a traditional form of puppet performance in Burma. In Burmese, marionette puppetry is also called Yoke the, mainly referring to string puppetry. Although originated from this fined art, was later on popular among ordinary audience. Nowadays, tourists in Burma are not only captivated by elegant puppet shows but also attracted to exquisite hand made wooden puppets to buy as souvenirs.
Carving is one of the best things to buy in Myanmar. There are two most significant types to opt for, either wood carvings or marble carvings.
Teakwood carvings are the first type, offered in various designs from religion-related to daily forms of animals and flowers, mostly produced from Mandalay. Another one is marble carved statues, which may be found from Sagaing Hill as the most famous site.
8. Gold leaf
In this golden land, the sight of gold leaf is so popular that it has gone beyond functional purpose to become a top must - buy souvenirs. Pure gold leaves are utilized to create the glistening spectacles in lacquerware and Buddha stupas or mixed with other ingredients for local medicines and local women’s facial apply.
Should you have time to visit Mandalay, drop by King Galon to observe the fine production of gold leaves, involving the beating, cutting and packing of gold which will highlight your list of things to do in Myanmar.
9. Tamarind flakes
The list cannot be complete without a mention of tamarind flakes, one of the most iconic delicacies, exclusive to Bagan. This sugary but pleasantly sour sweet will surely satisfy a sweet tooth, although the price is quite affordable at only $1 for a 6-7 pieced bag. Take time to wander around Bagan and don’t forget to grasp some home for a savory taste of Myanmar.
The most renowned cigar manufacturer in Burma is Shan State. Handmade cigars include a tobacco leaf as the main one, with other spices like stems, wood chips to create a unique and tasty indulgence. Inle Lake’s shops are said to offer the best quality, but otherwise, they are available in all markets across the country.
Thanks to natural ingredients, Burma’s cigars are impressive with a warm and pleasantly fragrant taste. You can try one and observe the skillful making process from local women, before deciding to take cigars home as souvenirs. Why not, for such great gifts at inexpensive offers?
Hope this article can answer your question of what to buy in Myanmar. If you have made up your mind, don't hesitate to contact Myanmar Group Tours for an amazing journey to the Golden Land.