Get a longyi onto that sexy bod, smear some thanaka on your face and start practicing your best ‘Mingalabar!’. Travelling for us is all about immersing ourselves in the local culture and trying as many local customs and experiences as we can. Our time in Myanmar was no exception!
Traditional Myanmar attire. Possibly one of the classiest yet still comfiest items of travelling clothing you can own and a great benefit when trying to negotiate your way around using the common squat toilets.
Worn by both men and women – it’s very important to ensure yours is tied up the girl way or the guy way! Although in reality the worst that can happen is you’ll earn yourself some good-natured giggles as you wander around the streets. For guys, it’s like a long tubular skirt which is wrapped, folded and tied/tucked in a firm knot in the centre of your waist. Patterns are normally a plaid or thin stripe style. For the ladies, it’s a wide, open piece of material that is wrapped around the waist, folded back on itself and then tucked in and secured firmly with small strings around the top. I found it more likely to come in bright colours, bold prints and patterns and worn with colourful blouses tucked into the top. For men it is called a “pa soe” and women a “hta maein” in the Myanmar language.
Everywhere you look, you will see locals clad in their longyi’s and I was extremely eager to add one to my own backpack wardrobe. I purchased one from a lovely lady in a small village near Bagan, which she had hand woven and would have taken weeks to create. I then proceeded to wear it almost everyday I was in Myanmar as it made me really feel like I belonged there, not just a visiting tourist. I felt like the locals loved it as I got lots of smiles and comments; potentially this could have been them laughing at what a sight I looked like! If it was, at least I was able to entertain them and it certainly lent itself to starting many a lovely conversation with the ever-friendly people.
I definitely recommend adding at least one of these beautiful, comfortable and versatile pieces to your wardrobe. They are hand woven using traditional old style looms and local fabrics and dyes. By purchasing one during your travels, you will also be helping to support the local economy and hard-working families. In my longyi I felt modest, elegant and so very welcomed into the Myanmar community, as I’m sure you will too 🙂