Knowing how to say hello in Burmese will go a long way when meeting friendly people over and over again throughout Myanmar. Learning a few simple expressions in the local language always improves the experience of visiting a new place. Doing so also shows people that you are interested in their lives and the local culture.
Try some of these simple expressions in Burmese and see how many smiles you get in return!
How to say hello in Burmese
The quickest and easiest way to say hello in Myanmar sounds like: ‘ming-gah-lah-bahr’. This greeting is widely used, although there are some slightly more formal alterations possible.
Unlike Thailand and some other countries, Burmese people do not wait (like a prayer gesture with palms together in front of you) as part of a greeting.
- Japanese style bows are not a custom in Myanmar.
- You will find that shaking hands is rare in Myanmar.
Tip: Male-female contact is even more limited in Myanmar than in other Southeast Asian countries. Do not hug, shake or touch anyone of the opposite sex while greeting in Myanmar.
How to say thank you in Burmese
If you’ve already learned how to say hello, another great thing to know is how to say “thank you” in Burmese. You will use the expression often, as Burmese hospitality is virtually unmatched in Southeast Asia.
The most polite way to say thank you in Burmese is: ‘chay-tzoo-tin-bah-teh’. Although it seems like a mouthful, the expression will be off your tongue easily in a few days.
An even easier way to offer gratitude, the equivalent of an informal “thank you”, is with: ‘chay-tzoo-beh’.
Although not really expected, the way to say ‘you’re welcome’ is with: ‘yah-bah-deh’.
The Burmese language
The Burmese language is a relative of the Tibetan language, so it sounds distinctly different from Thai or Lao. Like many other languages in Asia, Burmese is a tonal language, which means that each word can have at least four meanings, depending on the tone used.
Visitors generally won’t have to worry about learning the proper tones right away to say hello in Burmese because greetings are understood through context. In fact, hearing strangers decipher the tones when trying to say hello often brings a smile.
The Burmese script is believed to be based on an Indian script from the 1st century BC. C., one of the oldest writing systems in Central Asia. The 34 round and circular letters of the Burmese alphabet are beautiful but difficult for the uninitiated to discern! Unlike English, there are no spaces between words in written Burmese.
Other useful things to know in Burmese
- Toilet: Fortunately, this one is easy. While people won’t understand variations like “bathroom,” “men’s room,” or “bathroom,” they will understand “toilet” and point you in the right direction. This proven travel rule is valid for many countries around the world: always ask using the term “toilet”.
- Kyat: The official currency of Myanmar, the kyat, is not pronounced as it is written. Kyat is pronounced more like ‘chee-at’.
See how to say hello in Asia for greetings from many other countries.