Best time to visit Myanmar

There are two things you want to avoid when on vacation in Burma – intense heat, and intense rain
The best time to visit Burma, therefore, is during the drier winter months of October to March. It's hot during the daytime, and lowland temperatures remain pleasant at night – although bring much warmer layers for the highlands and hill stations as they are chilly in the evenings. Bagan and Mandalay are the hottest, driest regions – temperatures can peak at over 40°C – but rainfall is still light here in the wetter season, and with more bearable temperatures this is the best time to visit Burma to avoid the winter crowds.

Mandalay Weather Chart

 
MIN °C
MAX °C
RAIN (mm)
JAN
13
29
4
FEB
15
32
2
MAR
20
36
1
APR
24
38
37
MAY
26
37
140
JUN
26
34
123
JUL
26
34
127
AUG
25
33
130
SEP
25
33
155
OCT
24
32
177
NOV
20
30
39
DEC
15
28
7

Burma, month by month

January and February are both great months to visit Burma as it's dry across the board and temperatures haven't yet reached stifling. Cue March and April where temperatures will rise considerably, especially in central areas in and around the former capital city of Yangon (once known as Rangoon). The hot weather is a prelude to Burma's monsoon season which takes place from May all the way through the summer months of June, July and August. Rain tends to fall in the afternoon and early evening with several resorts along the coast, including Ngapali Beach, closing down completely. September and October are still soggy, particularly in central and southern areas, whilst Mandalay, in the north, will start to see less rain and steadier temperatures. Some consider November or December the best times to visit Burma however things can get busy and accommodation will get booked up as the rain clouds clear to leave lush green foliage, fast-flowing rivers and cascading waterfalls.
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RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL RECOMMENDS

Mark Huggins, from our supplier Undiscovered Destinations: "There's a perception that the best time to visit Burma is from November to March, but it's actually fine to visit many places in our summer months as well. There are certain places that will be very wet during the rainy season, and you can't get to the beach areas like Ngapali, but the areas around Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake don't see a lot of rain even in summer, and even when it does rain it tends to be short, sharp showers. It's not oppressive in terms of heat, whereas March and April are absolutely scorching.
Personally, I think November is beautiful. It’s just after the rainy season, the land is very lush and vibrant and temperatures are perfect.”

Our festive pick:

Hot air balloon festivals
Each November, hot air balloons crafted from handmade paper are released into the sky to mark the end of the rainy season and honour Buddhist and Hindu deities. There are competitions for the most elaborately decorated balloons and the best firework display. Taunggyi hosts the largest festival, but there are smaller versions across Shan State.

Festivals & events

Once a year, in September or October, the famous “leg-rowers” paddle a gilded barge around the stilt-house villages for Lake Inle’s Boat Festival. The barge contains images of Buddha, and boat races by the leg-rowers also take place – it’s a wonderful introduction to local religion and tradition.
Pagoda festivals commemorate the founding and crowning of the pagoda, as well as other events in its history. Bigger pagoda festivals include Yangon’s Shwedagon in February/March, and the Golden Rock and Bagan’s Schwezigon, both in November.

The larger festivals attract pilgrims from across the country, and involve food stalls, Yoke thé marionette theatre, music and dance, and martial arts.
Burma’s new year celebration, called Thingyan – “water festival” – occurs around mid-April. It coincides with the Buddhist new year, and the five day celebration involves what look like water fights – where the participants throw water over each other to wash away sins and cleanse themselves for the coming year.
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: Thomas Bors] [Sunrise in Bagan: Alexander Mueller] [Sunset: Joe Le Merou] [Balloons: Peter Halling Hilborg] [Inle Lake - boat: Chan] [Water festival : lawtonjm]
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