Frequently called “Asia’s best-kept secret,” Myanmar is full of surprises, even for travelers who have seen it all.
From its untouched nature to its dream-like gilded pagodas and stunning shrines, Myanmar offers visitors a chance to experience a society that has preserved Buddhist culture and majestic ancient ruins.
But when is the best time to visit Myanmar? For some, it’s during the country’s shoulder months when things are moving at a slow pace; for others, it’s all about taking advantage of the dry season, irrespective of the peak season prices.
If you wish to find the ideal Myanmar season for you, follow along, and we’ll help you decide.
The Best Time to Visit Myanmar
The best time to visit Myanmar is during the dry season, that is, in the November–February period. The dry season provides visitors with excellent climate conditions, allowing for a plethora of activities and festivals to take place.
That said, it’s precisely the weather conditions that make these months a peak tourist period, leading to high prices, busy streets, and crowded locations, so make sure to book well in advance.
Either way, make the most of your time by heading to Mandalay and soaking in its beauty, visiting Kyaing Tong and learning more about customs and traditions, or simply hitting the beach.
You could also go for a hike in the Kalaw area and wander Loikaw while observing its scenic mountain ranges and stunning waterfalls. In November, mark your calendars for the Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone.
Loved by both locals and travelers, this festivity marks the ending of the wet season — monks receive new robes, and robe-weaving contests are organized.
Shwezigon Pagoda Festival draws in a plethora of pilgrims to the pagoda on a full moon day. Then, there’s Taunggyi Balloon Festival, where hot air balloons (usually in animal shapes) are let loose in the air.
Popular festivals in January include:
- The Ananda Pagoda Festival, organized for the Bagan-based Ananda Temple,
- Full Moon Day of Tabodwe (Htmane Festival), honoring harvest time by making “htmane” (sticky rice with peanuts, ginger, sesame seeds, as well as coconut),
- Kachin State Day, which sees the six Kachin tribes reconnecting for this festivity,
- Naga New Year, accompanied by a lot of dancing, interesting costumes, and drumming.
Next, in February, there’s Chin National Day, honoring the customs and history of the Chin people, Lahu New Year, accompanied by Lahu-inspired events, and Union Day, honoring the Panglong Agreement anniversary.
These months see average temperatures between 94.1°F and 17.9°F.
Cheapest Time to Visit Myanmar
The cheapest time to visit Myanmar is in December. If you’re trying to stick to a budget, this is the time to take advantage of attractive flight prices and affordable hotel rates.
That said, note that you should visit in the period before Christmas, as the holiday season brings about large crowds and higher prices.
Events worth attending in this period include:
- Akha New Year (in Kyaing Tong), an opportunity to enjoy a plethora of festivities and traditional dances;
- Kayin New Year (in Hpa-An), celebrated with well-known traditional kickboxing contests;
- Mount Popa Nat Ceremony, offering nice music, cool dances, and palm wine;
- Po Win Festival (in Monywa), which features religious festivities, cultural events, and local products.
Another December activity worth recommending is heading to Bagan.
A cultural gem, Bagan will seduce you with its historical monuments, preserved brick temples, and stunning sights. In December, the temperatures in Myanmar vary between 88.7°F and 66.2°F.
Least Busy Time to Visit Myanmar
The least busy time to visit Myanmar is in September and October. These two shoulder months see average temperatures between 88.7°F and 75.6°F — perfect for enjoying the lush greenery after the heavy rain season.
Note that most beaches tend to open at the beginning of October, so if hitting the beach is something high on your travel agenda, heading to Myanmar in September may leave you disappointed.
Also, just because you get to enjoy Myanmar without the peak season crowds, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to do/see or events to attend.
In fact, there’s a myriad of them!
- There’s the Bo Bo Gyi Nat Festival, a 10-day festival;
- Manuha Pagoda Festival, known for its recognizable paper-parading figures;
- Myo Daunt Zedi Pagoda Festival, where local goods such as tobacco and woven materials are traded;
- Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival, an 18-day festival dedicated to Buddha.
In October, you can enjoy the 9,000 Lights Festival, when 9,000 candles are used as an offering to Buddha, and the Hsu Taung Pye Pagoda festival, with locals distributing snacks and sweets.
With the high water levels after the monsoon season, October is a great time to embark on a cruise on the Ayeyarwady River.
Worst Time to Visit Myanmar
The worst time to head to Myanmar is during the rainy season, or in the May–September period.
Expect heavy rainfall, especially in the months of July and August, and although the crowds have dwindled thanks to the weather, chances are you won’t be able to enjoy Myanmar the way you should.
It’s not uncommon for many beaches and resorts to close down too. Also, domestic flights may be delayed or canceled thanks to unfavorable weather, which may even impact road travel.
If you do decide to visit, be willing to be flexible around your itinerary, as the heavy rainfall may heavily alter your itinerary.
That said, avoiding July and August and opting for some of the other months may translate into fewer showers and occasional unpredictable weather conditions, as well as taking advantage of small windows of fine weather.
In any case, not all is lost if you decide to head to Myanmar in the rainy season. You can visit Mt. Popa and marvel at extinct volcano houses, explore the wooden monasteries in Salay, and go trekking when the weather allows it.
If you happen to be in Myanmar in May, take part in the Buddha Day celebration, honoring Buddha’s birth and enlightenment, and the Shit-Thaung Pagoda Festival, including wrestling, boat racing, and water splashing.
June visitors can attend the Thiho Shin Pagoda Festival, comprised of dances and traditional plays, and Chinlone, featuring a myriad of chinlone teams competing. July is known for the Full Moon Day of Waso, marking the beginning of Buddhist Lent.
August hosts Taungbyone Nat Festival, organized yearly in honor of the two well-known nat brothers (deities), and Yadana Gu Nat Festival, accompanied by ritual dances, songs, and food offerings.
These months see average temperatures between highs of 92.1°F and lows of 75.4°F.
Things to Consider
Care to learn more about Myanmar? Follow along for the best travel tips and other things worth considering:
- When it comes to safety in Myanmar, it’s worth noting there’s civil unrest and armed conflict in various places in the country.
- All travelers are required to have a valid passport (six months remaining validity after their return) and a valid visa. Applying for a visa is done prior to one’s arrival in Maymar via the Ministry of Immigration and Population website.
- In Myanmar, the local currency is “kyat,” and it’s usually the preferred currency (US dollars are also accepted). That said, the exchange rates vary greatly. For the best advice, we suggest consulting locals, your hotel receptionist, your tour guide, and so on. Just don’t exchange money at airports, as they arguably provide the worst exchange rates. Also, given that the kyat fluctuates all the time, keep most of your money in dollars and exchange it only when it’s necessary to do so.
- Given that many Southeast Asian countries are fairly conservative when it comes to clothing, we suggest being more modest with your Western fashion. While Western outfits are generally accepted, avoiding mini skirts, shorts, crop tops, or sleeveless shirts in shrines and religious sites is more than recommended. Avoid any clothes with a Buddha pattern on them, as such acts are considered extremely disrespectful. Also, you may be required to take your shoes off when entering sacred sites.
- If you’re handing something to another person, use both hands (allegedly, it’s perceived as an act of common courtesy!).
- If you’re using prescription medication, make sure to carry enough to last you during your stay, as it may not be available in Myanmar. That said, before heading to Myanmar, travelers should first check whether the medication is considered legal in the country.
- Drunk only bottled water, as “travelers’ diarrhea” is more than common. Avoid swimming in rivers/ponds since the water is contaminated. Also, don’t eat undercooked or raw food — ensure your meals are cooked properly and served hot.
- Posting negative or nasty comments on social media may lead to your incarceration.
- Flying drones without the government’s permission may result in heavy penalties, as jail time, and/or drone confiscation.
- Same-sex activity is considered illegal.
- Get travel insurance before your trip. Note that most healthcare facilities are deemed unsuitable for proper medical care. Also, even if you have insurance, you’ll be required to pay in cash first before receiving any medical service (credit cards aren’t accepted, and insurance isn’t billed).
Frequently Asked Questions
What are five interesting facts about Myanmar?
Here are five interesting facts about Myanmar to spark your curiosity and expand your knowledge before you visit:
1. The official language of the country is Burmese, and there are more than 100 distinct dialects and languages spoken. That said, English is widely used in business circles.
2. It’s the largest city in Southeast Asia.
3. Myanmar’s capital was changed to Naypyidaw from Yangon in 2006.
4. Myanmar is home to some of the world’s finest rubies.
5. Sarongs, also known as lungiy, Myanmar’s traditional dress, is worn by both men and women.
What is the famous food in Myanmar?
Myanmar has a plethora of interesting foods, the most popular ones being tea leaf salad, shan-style rice, Burmese curry, Burmese tea shop meal, Burmese sweet snacks, Nangyi thoke, Mohinga, shan-style noodles, and shan-style “tofu” noodles.
What is the main transportation in Myanmar?
Popular transportation options in Myanmar include buses, taxis, motorbikes, trains, trishaws, and car rentals. That said, driving in Myanmar may not be advisable due to poor road conditions in some areas and frequent traffic congestion.
To make matters worse, many locals don’t turn their headlights on at night until it’s completely dark, so you need to be on alert at all times.
What’s more, although driving is on the right since, there are still many old cars left in the country from the time they used to drive on the left, which might make things even more confusing. Lastly, in Rangoon, you may come across old traffic lights placed on the wrong side of the road.
Are people in Myanmar friendly?
Yes, locals in Myanmar are said to be highly hospitable, polite, and welcoming to foreigners. Westerners even end up being invited to locals’ homes, and if you travel with kids, don’t be surprised if they end up playing with locals’ children on the street.
Is it cheap to visit Myanmar?
In general, visiting Myanmar isn’t going to be an expensive holiday. If you head to Naypyidaw, Myanmar’s capital, for a three-day trip, you’ll need $415 if you’re going solo, $705 if you’re with a partner, and $913 if you’re traveling as a family of four.
Hotel prices in the city center vary between $141 and $352 ($176 per night on average).
Also, set aside $47 per day per person for local restaurants and public transportation costs. Note that all these figures are just approximations, and by the time to visit Myanmar, they could very well change.
Over to You — Book Your Trip Today!
- The best time to visit Myanmar is during the dry season, that is, in the November–February period. The climate is ideal for those looking for fun outdoor activities and festivals to attend. That said, the prices can be quite high, and the accommodation scarce.
- The cheapest time to visit Myanmar is in December. Being the perfect month for budget-conscious travelers, December offers not only nice airfare deals but also versatile accommodation options — just make sure to visit before the holiday chaos.
- The least busy time to visit Myanmar is in September and October. These two shoulder months provide excellent conditions for visiting Myanmar without the people-packed sites and crowded streets. Note that some of the beaches may not be fully open in September, however.
- The worst time to head to Myanmar is during the rainy season, or in the May–September period. Heavy rainfall is quite the norm, many resorts shut down, and your itinerary plans may go up in smoke. That said, being flexible goes a long way and may even lead to pleasant surprises.
All in all, no matter when you go to Myanmar, it’s more than likely you’ll have an awesome stay. Our travel guide says it all… now all you have to do is get there. Happy travels!