Top 10 Things to Buy in Myanmar

08, Apr

by Shelly Bui

Mingalaba! Warmest welcome from the splendid country of Myanmar. When it comes to spectacular Myanmar, be immersed not only in the golden light of gilded Buddhist sites but also in the country’s history, culture, and natural values. Don’t forget to look for some elegant (and sometimes delicious) souvenirs to bring home for your beloved friends and family. You might not know if you have found a relic. Below are the top 10 gifts that Myanmar offers its precious travelers. 

1. Jewelry in Myanmar

Myanmar is a shimmering pin on the map of travelers since its gleam comes from golden religious sites, colonial buildings, and ingenious handicrafts. Don’t hesitate to adorn yourself with some little shining items as well. Gemstone jewelry is popular in Myanmar, which is mainly high quality but affordable ruby, jade, and sapphire. The gemstone industry is reported to cover almost  50% of the country’s GDP. Rely on your tour guide and government-approved sites when seeking Burmese exquisite jewelry since fake items are also quite common.

Bogyoke Aung San Market in Yangon is recommended for buying elegant jewelry (Note: the market is closed on Monday.)


Gemstone jewelry is popular in Myanmar

2. Longyi

Where else on earth can you get a Burmese traditional costume but in Myanmar? The indigenous longyi comes with diversified old-fashioned patterns and textures. One can cost you from $3 to even $100, depending on the fabric, patterns, and the costume’s complexity. Furthermore, you can have your longyi customized and designed with your own preferences, making the costume even more fashionable to wear in your home country.

The most highly recommended locations to purchase longyi are Bogyoke Aung San Market in the charming city of Yangon and Silks Workshops in Mandalay, which provide products with the best quality and an impressive shopping experience since the tailor should make your longyi perfectly fit. Feel free to observe the making of your delightful costumes.


The indigenous longyi comes with diversified old-fashioned patterns and textures

3. Sand Paintings

The idea of sand paintings is said to originate from an earthquake that struck in 1995 when the locals made efforts to preserve the valuable murals by creating another form resembling them. Since then, this form of art has become the occupation of many locals, as sand paintings rank among the most gorgeous souvenirs rated by travelers from around the world. 

A single item might take up to a few days to be completed, as it is not just sand that makes up the paintings but cloth, paint, stylus, and glue as well. The bewildering work is considered to require great patience and creativity to deliver. 


Sand paintings have become the occupation of many locals

Sand paintings can be bought anywhere in the country; nonetheless, the heart of sand painting is Bagan – the city of countless temples. Various vendors can be found around the religious sites on the temple plain of Bagan or in Nyaung Oo.

4. Tapestries

Besides sand paintings, tapestries stand among the most outstanding cultural values of the Burmese. Such peculiar work costs no less effort than the making of sand paintings does. The price of a product varies from $3 to $35 depending on the materials and patterns. Some are even adorned with gold threads, glasses, pearls, and gemstones. Because of the market’s demand, in addition to traditional tapestries, numerous types of products, such as handbags, blankets, and purses, are popular among tourists as well. 

The best place to seek this well-known Myanmar handicraft is the city of Mandalay. The cost depends on the product’s quality.


Tapestries stand among the most outstanding cultural values of the Burmese

5. Lacquerware

Despite being told to originate from China and severely affected by Thailand, Burmese lacquerware still possesses its distinctive features. The types of lacquerware vary to determine its uniqueness, such as Thayoe Pan Yun (relief-molded), Ka Nyit Yn (incised), and Shwe Zawa Yun (gold leaf). This is definitely a not-to-be-missed souvenir to buy on your Asia private holiday.

From basic lacquerware items like bowls and vases to more exquisite ones like ornamentations, they can be purchased anywhere in the country, especially in Bagan. Mingle around local markets and look for the best products to take home. 

Thanakha is also a common gift you can find in Myanmar markets.


The types of lacquerware vary to determine its uniqueness

6. Marionette

Since the country is rich in historical and cultural treasures, marionettes, as a form of antique art, are a symbol of Myanmar. Marionette puppetry (or so-called Yoke Thae) is a way of conveying the vivid Burmese culture. Nowadays, travelers to Myanmar are not only mesmerized by vibrant puppet performances but also by elegant wooden handmade puppets that can be bought as lovely souvenirs. The marionettes are sold widely in Bagan, near the temples.


Marionette puppetry (or so-called Yoke Thae) is a way of conveying the vivid Burmese culture

7. Carvings

Carving is one of the best options for what to buy in Myanmar. The two major types of carvings are either wood carvings or marble carvings. The first type is mainly made of teakwood and comes in diversified designs such as Buddhist-related sculptures, animals, and flowers, mostly made in Mandalay. The other type, which is carved marble statues, can be found on Sagaing Hill, which is the most popular site. 


Carving is one of the best options for what to buy in Myanmar

8. Gold Leaves

In the kingdom of gold, gold leaf is such a common item that it has gone beyond its original purpose to become a symbolic must-buy souvenir for Myanmar. Pure gold leaves are used to adorn lacquerware products and Buddhist sacred stupas. They are also made into medicines and beauty cosmetics for the locals.

If one happens to visit the legendary city of Mandalay, don’t miss the chance to stop by King Galon to observe the making of these exquisite gold leaves.


Gold leaf is such a common item

9. Tamarind Flakes

It would be a huge mistake not to include this tasty sweet on the list. Tamarind flake is one of the most iconic delicacies exclusive to the region of Bagan. This sour but sweet snack will surely please a sweet tooth. The price is, nevertheless, quite reasonable at only $1 for a bag of 6-7 pieces. Wander around the temple plain of Bagan and remember to bring home this exotic taste of Myanmar.

Read more: 10 Must-try Dishes in Myanmar


Tamarind flake is one of the most iconic delicacies exclusive to the region of Bagan

10. Cigars

Come visit Shan State, which is home to the famous Burmese handmade cigar. This exclusive product consists of tobacco leaves as the main ingredient and other side spices like stems and wood chips to produce a one-of-a-kind taste of legend. Vendors on Inle Lake are told to offer the best quality, but in fact, cigars are available in every market across Myanmar. 

Thanks to the country’s natural supplies, Burmese cigars provide a warm and satisfying fragrance. Try some and feast your eyes on the artful process of cigar production by local women before buying them as gifts. Not to mention its affordability.


Burmese cigars provide a warm and satisfying fragrance

In summary, Myanmar not only offers travelers a chance to admire the spectacular pagodas and landscapes but also the exotic and outstanding souvenirs. Burmese handicrafts are some of the best things to buy in Myanmar; they take a lot of time and effort to make and hold high value in culture. We do hope that our list above can give you some ideal suggestions of what to bring back home after your journey to the Golden Land. For more useful information about Myanmar travel, check out our complete Myanmar Travel Guides. Don't forget that Asia Private Travels is always ready to help you tailor your itinerary for free.