Useful Burmese Words and Phrases for Travelers to Myanmar

Unless you're in a tourist hotspot, English isn’t widely spoken in Myanmar. So, learn these essential Burmese phrases and you'll find a little goes a long way.


Photo © Will Hatton

Burmese is the official, and most common, language spoken by two-thirds of the population in Myanmar. Ethic groups like the Shan, Karen, Kachin, Mon, and Chin people have their own indigenous dialect.

Master these Burmese phrases to help you naviate the country, bargain for a fair price, and build a good rapport with the locals you meet. It's just good manners! 

Burmese greetings

Hello/Goodbye: Mingalaba

See you again: Nout ma thway mae

Thank you: Cezu tin ba deh

My Name is _____: (Male) Ja nor na meh ____ ba/ (Female) Ja ma nau na meh ____ ba

What’s your name?: Nah meh be lou kor d’le?

How are you?: Neh kaun la?

I’m well: Neh kaun ba deh

Greeting the locals in Myanmar. Photo credit: Will Hatton

General Burmese terms and phrases

Do you speak English?: Inglei saga go pyaw tat de la?

Sorry: Wun neh ba deh

Please: Kyeizu pyu yue

Yes: Ho de

No: Ma ho bu

Help: Keh ba

Cheers: Aung myin par say

Where is the bathroom?: Ein tha be ma shi tha le?

May I take a photograph?: Da poun yai lo ya mala?

How do you say …. In Burmese?: Bama lo … go balo pyaw leh?

I don’t understand: Na ma le ba bu

Bill/cheque: Sin meh

How to address others in Burmese

It’s polite to address a person based on their seniority and age in Myanmar.

Older males: U

Older females: Daw

Younger males: Ko

Younger females: Ma

Uncle: U lay

Aunty: Daw gyi

Big brother: A ko

Younger brother: Maung Lay

Older sister: A Ma Gyi

Younger sister: Nyi Ma Lay

Burmese phrases for shopping/haggling

When you’re shopping/haggling for a fair price, it’s helps to know the following phrases and numbers:

How much?: Be lau le?

Very expensive: Zei mya de

Can you reduce the price?: Nae nae htat shot pay par oo

Take it or leave it: Chin you ma you chin nay

1 = Tit

2 = Hnit

3 = Thone

4 = Lay

5 = Nga

6 = Chout

7 = Khoon nit

8 = Shitt

9 = Ko

10 = Tseh

Bargaining for art in Bagan. Photo credit: Will Hatton

Etiquette tips

  • Always hand over money with your right hand, and put your left hand on your elbow to show respect.
  • Never touch someone’s head, as it’s considered extremely disrespectful.
  • Don’t point or show the bottom of your feet to anyone.

Get more guidance on do's and don'ts in Myanmar here.

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