Being locals, of course, we respect and value our culture, tradition and religion in relation to the responsible tourism of Myanmar. We believe that tourism can offer the locals with jobs and income to better the living standard and at the same time, the culture and environment can be affected somehow. That's why, to reduce the impact, we do appreciate your kind co-operation in terms of responsible tourism.
An international tourist plays definitely a vital role in helping strengthen our policy and practices. While some cultural problems regarding responsible tourism are being on the topic in specific detail during the tour briefings, the below points are some advices we would like to make;
Why not doing some research on the destination and culture you are about to explore! It can help you get an general idea of that specific place so you will be able to adapt yourself to its environment and the citizens.
Tourists, you, me all come from all over the world with the different in religious, social, cultural and so on backgrounds. Thus, do take note that what you think the normal behavior or words can be somehow offensive to the locals or other people. Therefore, you should be sensitive and respect to other tourists or the locals and their tradition, religion. The dress for you (especially the cyclists) is normally quite casual, and it can be a need to dress elegantly, for instance, a scarf or a longyi to tie around your waist means, you respect the religion, customs especially when entering a monastery or a pagoda.
There can be a lot of photos opps! No doubt! For you, as a tourist, however, in certain places, people who practice other religious beliefs such as animism or other forms of religion consider it taboo or bad luck. Then, if you are in doubt, politely request if you can take a photograph. If people seem in no mood or look aside, simply don't take the photo. It is also not advisable to photograph government officials wearing uniforms such as police, soldiers and buildings, sometimes, you don't know it, and you may be asked to delete the photos or even have your camera confiscated, therefore, please make sure with your local guide so as to not feel disappointed.
Sometimes, when things don't go your way, try not to be offended, no matter how upset you are. Instead, put on a smile as it can make your mood better and also the tension is becoming less, calm down! "Smiling reduces stress", therefore, why not going all over the world smiling!
Local souvenirs are sold almost everywhere, however, we do advice you to buy items that benefit the local economy and avoid costly shopping malls where most of the money goes elsewhere, to foreign investors, for instance, or to large businesses. Of course, to bargain is often normal in many countries, please do not push too hard. Likewise, you should not bargain for items which you don't intend to buy.
You should NEVER purchase products or souvenirs that cause the problem to endanger wildlife species and their habitats. It is absolutely illegal to bring wildlife products into western countries, e.g. ivory, tiger skins, etc.
Lastly, although you may have your way, you should ask your local tour guide for suggestions on how to respond to begging and about suitable gifts. It is usually better, for example, to give school materials or local food treats as a group through the school leader or village head.
In summery, this can't be done by ourselves and we do request your kind co-operation. Joining hands with you, we will definitely be able to contribute to the conservation of the nature, culture in order to sustain the diverse treasures forever.
Let's travel responsible
AYUDA Myanmar Travel Team