Knowing how to say hello in Burmese will come in very handy as you meet friendly people again and again throughout Myanmar. Learning a few simple expressions in the local language always enhances 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 used widely, although there are some slightly more formal alterations possible.
Unlike in Thailand and a few other countries, Burmese people don’t wai (the prayer-like gesture with palms together in front of you) as part of a greeting.
- Japanese-style bowing is not a custom in Myanmar.
- You’ll find that shaking hands is rare in Myanmar.
Tip: Contact between males and females is even more limited in Myanmar than other Southeast Asian countries. Don’t hug, shake, or otherwise touch anyone of the opposite sex while saying hello 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’ll be using the expression often, as Burmese hospitality is practically 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 rolling off of your tongue easily within a few days.
An even easier way to offer gratitude -- the equivalent of an informal “thanks” -- is with: ‘chay-tzoo-beh.’
Although it isn’t 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, making it sound distinctively different than Thai or Lao. Like many other languages in Asia, Burmese is a tonal language, meaning that every word can have at least four meanings -- depending upon which tone is used.
Visitors typically won’t have to worry about learning the proper tones right away for saying hello in Burmese because greetings are understood through the context. In fact, hearing foreigners butcher the tones when trying to say hello usually brings a smile.
Burmese script is thought to be based on an Indian script from the first century BCE, one of the oldest writing systems in Central Asia. The 34 round, circular letters of the Burmese alphabet are beautiful but difficult for the uninitiated to discern! Unlike in English, there are no spaces between words in written Burmese.
Other Useful Things to Know in Burmese
- Toilet: Thankfully, this is an easy one. While people won’t understand variations such as “bathroom,” “men’s room,” or “restroom,” they will understand “toilet” and point you in the appropriate direction. This tried-and-true travel rule holds for many countries around the world: always ask by using the term “toilet.”
- Kyat: The official currency of Myanmar, the kyat, is not pronounced as it is spelled. Kyat is pronounced more like ‘chee-at.’
See how to say hello in Asia to learn greetings for many other countries.