Shopping in Myanmar


Most of the villages, towns, and cities throughout Myanmar have a lively market place at its centre.

The goods on display range from the local specialties like puppets and tapestries in Mandalay to lacquerware in Monywa and Bagan. Other more standard items include a variety of handicrafts, clothes and fresh produce. A major market to visit on the Myanmar private tour is the Bogyoke Aung San Market (also called Scott Market) in Yangon, which trades in everything imaginable and has a lively and friendly atmosphere.

Myanmar is famous for its gems and jewellery which are widely available to buy across the country. However, an export permit is likely to be required for the high-end or expensive items.

Here are a few things that a tourist can buy while in Myanmar:

Sand paintings
A must buy in Myanmar is the sand paintings that are one type of art that is built into the heritage and culture of this land. The first sand paintings appeared in the Bagan era when the work was created in a laboriously skilled and intricate manner.

Today’s art is a close copy of the past work with paintings that depict Tantric metaphors, Theravada interpretations, Hindu and Vedic. Bagan is the best place to find the sand paintings with most of the temples having a varied collection for sale.

Tapestries (also referred to as ‘Kalaga’ by locals) are a great addition to a living room with its ability to offer beauty and subtle elegance. Tapestry weaving is an art form that has been in existence for thousands of years. A great city to visit for the best tapestries is Mandalay – although they can be found in most tourist areas across the country. The cost is in the region of $5 to $55 and this relates to the complexity of the design. In addition to the traditional tapestries, there are also items like tapestry shoulder bags to create the most unique gift or souvenir idea while on the Myanmar family tour.

Lacquerware is a further popular item in Myanmar with some of the most impressive pieces found in Bagan. The actual process of creating lacquerware is quite time-consuming and can appear in a variety of shapes and sizes with vases and cups among the most common items. Plus, most of the best pieces are finished with artwork that usually depicts a Buddha related scene. Lacquerware is hand-carved and produced with a green-pigmented design and terracotta colour. Also, the more contemporary pieces are created with a deep-black design with gold leaf. However, there is a risk of buying a counterfeit piece, so extra caution is needed in these types of transactions.

shopping in myanmar

Arts and crafts
Myanmar is a country that is appreciated for its skilled artists with plenty that draw on parchment, wall murals and palm leaves. A very popular piece of art that makes a great gift or souvenir is the Marionette which is a type of puppet and forms a traditional part of entertainment in the country. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the live marionette puppet show while travelling across the country on the Myanmar holidays, while also having the option to buy one for a personal collection. Other popular pieces of traditional art associated with this country include wood carvings, coconut masks and folk dolls.

The longyis is a local traditional costume much like a sarong and worn by men (called ‘Pasu’) and women (called ‘Htamein’). It is very comfortable to wear and this long-wrap around skirt is available is a variety of materials, such as cotton for everyday use, while silk is more reserved for the special occasion. Plus, when shopping for this item the cost can vary with choice of material and intricacy of the design. A customary Myanmar clothe article can make a wonderful gift idea for family or friends at home.

Lotus Silk
Lotus silk scarves or shawls are great items to include on the Myanmar shopping list. The lotus silk material is naturally sourced from the lotus flower. It is a quite slow process to extract this rare fibre from the flower, but when it is removed it is weaved into a usable thread for creating a great range of gorgeous shawls and scarves. Also, the use of lotus silk is common in producing the robes worn by temple monks.

This material is naturally quite expensive with the best places to visit for this type of souvenir including places near Inle Lake like Nyaung Shwe village.

Gemstone painting
A must-buy in Myanmar is the beautiful and unique gemstone paintings. Even though the fine and intricate paintings created by the local artists are a major attraction, it is the paintings created with gemstones that really catch the attention of the tourist on the Myanmar travel tour. These unique paintings are created using crushed gemstones with the power and bits applied to the canvas and used as colours.

Many of the gemstone paintings depict traditional scenes such as Buddhist images and pagodas. The best places to visit for this art work are the markets in Bogyoke, Yangon, and Mandalay, as well as the shopping malls in the major cities.

Marble Carving
Other fine quality things to buy in Myanmar include the statues carved in marble. Most of the statues are built in the shape of Buddha. Carving in marble has been an art form in the country for hundreds of years. Similar to gems, Myanmar is a rich source of high-quality marble with a lot of the raw material extracted from Saqyin Hill. Also, the artists continue to use traditional methods for shaping the marble.

Tamarind flakes
An item of food unique to Myanmar is the tamarind flakes which make a great gift idea for travellers to Bagan. This is a type of local sweet which has a taste that is best described as sour and sourced from tamarind.

Beyond the more traditional shops and markets that are explored on the Myanmar customized tour, there is also the opportunity to shop at the floating villages, such as the one in Inle Lake for the more unusual shopping experience.