Myanmar Etiquette – Greetings in Myanmar

When you meet a friend in an English speaking country, you say “Hi”, or “How are you?”In Thailand, you say “Sawaddee”. In Myanmar, you usually say either “where are you going?” Quite strange, right?

In Myanmar, we don’t have an informal phrase or expression to be used as a greeting. The famous phrase “Mingalar Bar” is quite formal and nobody use it in the streets. It is only used in formal announcements on the airplanes! And it is not really Burmese. The expression was invented during the colonial period; a rather indirect translation of “Good morning”, “Good afternoon”, “Good evening”, or “Good day”. The closest literal meaning of “Mingalar Bar” is “have good things unto you”.

So next time you meet a Burmese friend in the streets of Yangon, ask “where are you going?” instead. And remember, don’t ask this question to a stranger. This is only for friends.

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14 comments for “Myanmar Etiquette – Greetings in Myanmar

  1. Issy
    May 5, 2009 at 9:23 am

    I would like to ask, just curious, what do Burmese usually say to their family first thing in the morning? It would be odd not to greet them after a long night of sleep… and do they have “thank you ” in their language?

    • May 5, 2009 at 5:56 pm

      Thanks for the comment. What you ask is very interesting indeed. To tell you the truth, we Burmese don’t greet each other in the morning. The English expression “Good Morning” doesn’t exist in Burmese language although “Mingalar Nan Nat Khin Bar” is a Burmese translation of that English greeting. We don’t greet each other in the morning. For Burmese, there is no reason to greet the family members either in the morning or in the evening. So no “Good morning” and no “Good night”.

      We have thank you in Burmese. “Kyae Zu Tin Bar Del” is the Burmese equivalent of “Thank you”. However, Burmese don’t say thank you as frequent as Westerners. We say thank you only when we really mean it. So, if a Burmese don’t say “Thank you” to you, don’t be offended. But if he says thank you to you, it means he is really thanking you from his heart, and you should be proud of it.

    • Kyawzin Oo
      January 19, 2017 at 11:43 pm

      In Myanmar Language ”Mingalar” is Better than ”GOOD”
      ”Mingalar” mean ”BRIGHT” ”Fortunate” ”Lucky” so so. .:)

  2. Lucy
    February 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I would like to ask if if there is a translation of ‘good evening’ and if yes, what is it? Thanks

    • February 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      You can translate as “kaung thaw nya nay khinn bar”, but it is not Burmese. No actual phrase in Burmese.

  3. Lun Khai
    May 7, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    i think the most appropriate and formal translation of “min galar bar!” is “auspicious to you!” just like “shalom to you!” which is in ancient Hebrew language.

    • May 7, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      Yes, you are probably right. Mingalar is auspicious, and Mingalar bar is a kind of wish. But we do not use it in everyday life, except at school greeting to teachers, and to use in formal situation, like greeting to an audience at the conference.

  4. Jonathen
    September 23, 2011 at 5:28 am

    I have a question.

    I met this Burmese girl in the UK at college and we spend alot of time talking and studying together however i am quite naive on the mentality of Burma girls and not sure whether flirting with her would seem offensive or taken as a compliment.

    • September 23, 2011 at 7:24 am

      I think girls are girls wherever they are and whoever they are 😀

  5. kellie
    December 28, 2012 at 12:22 am

    I have 3 people who work for me who speak Burmese and 2 that speak Korin. They have birthday s coming up and I would like to give them greeting cards, can you help me with that?

    • January 8, 2013 at 10:07 am

      Any birthday card would be appreciated by them. They will be more than happy if you show them you remember their birthdays.

  6. Ivan
    January 29, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    greetings! I met a Burmese girl which I believe do not speak/understand English that good enough. I always want to greet her every time I see her, so what do you think should I say to her? You said “Mingalar Bar” is quite formal so I’m thinking what should be the most appropriate one.

  7. Irene
    May 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Kindly help to translate to Burmese:) Thanks & appreciates.

    Here are the list:
    Morning –
    Afternoon –
    Night –
    Rest –
    Sleep –
    Wake up time –
    Wash cups –
    Sweep the floor –
    Mop the floor –
    Wash cloths –
    Wash toilet –
    Bed sheet –
    Table –
    Wipe –
    Cupboard –
    Sunny –
    Dark sky –
    Rain or raining –
    Iron cloths –
    Boil water –
    Water –
    On & Off Switch –
    Cook –
    Rice –
    Fish –
    Prawns –
    Chicken –
    Duck –
    Pork –
    Hot –
    Cold –
    Ice –
    Walk dog –
    Open –
    Closed –
    Doors –
    Lock –
    Go –
    Walk –
    Numbers from 1 to 10

    Many thanks.
    Irene

  8. Bridget
    June 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Help me translate the following statements into Myanmar Language:

    1) Do not come near me.
    2) Do not greet me.
    3) Do not enter my room.
    4) Do not wash my clothes.
    5) Do not hang my clothes.
    6) Do not touch my things.
    7) Do not look inside my room even when the door is open.

    Thank you.

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