April can be a fantastic time to visit Myanmar if your goal is to escape the crowds; however, you'll need to be prepared that the weather is extremely hot. Even in the coolest parts of the country up in the mountains, the temperatures will be in the 85 to 88 range.
In the central plains, they will hover steadily around 99 to 100 degrees which can feel brutal given the lack of wind or breezes. The humidity is high this time of year and the air is dusty and hazy. Due to the lack of clear skies, the sunsets are often less visible, too. The upshot, however, is that you won't have to factor rainfall into the equation. There is very little precipitation (with the exception of a few select parts of the coast) and the mountains are quite pleasant during this time.
Crowds and Costs
The best part about visiting Myanmar in April is the lack of crowds, especially in Mandalay and Bagan. Unlike the high season (from December to February) where it's common to see giant tour buses lined up outside the ruins in Bagan, or big crowds at Mandalay's famous temples, there's hardly anyone in these cities this time of year.
On the coast, it can be slightly more crowded, partly because it's breezier there (so not quite as hot), and partly because it's high season for locals due to the Burmese New Year. However, even with the locals at the beaches, the crowds are much thinner than they are in the previous months.
Not only are the crowds smaller, costs are typically better, too, especially for lodging. You can often find great prices on hotels, as well as off-season rates for meals or guided tours. Better yet, the hotels (particularly the luxury resorts along the coast) will often allow you to swim in their pools or lounge on their chairs if you patronize their restaurants and bars. During the high season, these same hotels are packed and typically won't allow non-guests on the premises; however, you can find places where this is OK in April as long as you're running a bar tab.
Where to Go
There are lots of great places in Myanmar to visit in April. The key is to head to the mountains or check out the coastlines where the combination of breezes and slightly lower temperatures make the climates cooler and more pleasant. Here, you'll find the best of both worlds—comfortable weather and fewer crowds. It can truly be one of the best times to visit Myanmar.
In the mountains, the best places to visit are towns like Inle Lake, Kalaw, and Loikaw. Inle Lake is typically in the mid to upper 80s this time of year which, combined with the crisper mountain air, makes it a wonderful time to visit. You'll find it less crowded and touring the lake in long-boats will feel like your own aquatic wonderland. Although some of the migratory birds will have left for the season, there will still be plenty of avian species swooping down along the water and wading among the lily pads.
Kalaw is also pleasant this time of year, offering plenty of day activities such as hiking and horse-back-riding. (Just note that this is not a good time to make the two to three-day trek between Kalaw and Inle Lake, as the unshaded trails makes it almost prohibitively hot).
The mountain town of Loikaw is at its absolute best in April. The weather is perfect and the rains (which make the town unpleasant from May to October) have not yet arrived. It's the perfect time to experience the Kayah culture of the region, especially because April is when the traditional Kayhto Bo (spirit poles) are worshipped. Much farther north, the towns of Pyin Oo Lwin and Hsipaw in the hills outside of Mandalay are also enjoyable in April with beautiful hiking opportunities.
On the coast, the Ngapali begins getting wet in April so it's not a great time to visit that resort town; however, Ngwe Saung, Dawei, and Chaung Tha are all wonderful this time of year. The beaches are emptier and the hotels are cheap yet the weather is still sunny and dry. It's hotter than other times of the year but with the coastal breeze, you won't feel it as much. It's a great time to enjoy the gorgeous resorts without as many crowds.
The central plains are not the best places to be in April due to intense heat. That said, there's hardly anyone in these cities so if seeing the ancient ruins of Bagan or the colonial architecture of Yangon are items on your bucket list, there's no better time to have them to yourself.
What to Do
April weather creates the perfect weather conditions for taking a long-tail boat through the scenic, reeded canals of Inle Lake. Visit the shop where the tobacco ladies roll cigars, make a stop to see the Kayan ("longneck") women weaving scarves, or check out the hand-spun silks. It's also a great time to experience the shimmering golden Hpaung Daw U Pagoda or drive up the hillside to the scenic Red Mountain Estate Vineyards for sunset.
In Loikaw, visit the scared 11th century Taung Kwe Pagoda or take a tour of the lakes about 40 minutes outside town (known collectively as "Seven Stages Lake") outside. The natural scenery here offers a gorgeous background for a picnic. It's also a great time to observe the Kayhto Bo spirit poles that adorn the villages because April is when locals do their annual worship.
On the coast, it's a great month for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving in the beach resort towns of Ngwe Saung, Dawei, and Chaung Tha. In Ngwe Saung, you can take a cooking class, rent a bike, or visit the nearby Bird Island. If scuba diving is of particular interest, April is the perfect time for this seven-day tour of the Myeik Archipelago. There, you'll spot aquatic life such as whale sharks and stingrays swimming against a backdrop of vibrant, pristine coral and brilliant underwater caves.
Mandalay, Bagan, and Yangon will all be hot but if you decided to make the journey to these cities, check out the Shwesandaw Pagoda in Bagan or the Sule Pagoda in Yangon. In Mandalay, take one of its famous hot air balloon rides over the city. This 10-Day Highlights of Myanmar tour features stops in all three cities.
Events in April
Thingyan: Thingyan, which is celebrated throughout the country between approximately April 12 and 16th, is the Burmese New Year. Typically a five-day event, it's a public holiday where businesses close so locals can celebrate. Similarly to the Songkran festival celebrated in Thailand and other southeast Asian countries, it involves a lot of water. (In fact in some places people refer to it as "Songkran.") Villagers take to the streets with water balloons, hoses, and pots and pans to douse each other with water in a festive spirit. There's food, dancing, drums, and music, making it one of the biggest and most beloved festivals in Myanmar.
Thanaka Grinding Festival: On the eve on Thingyan, the Rakhine State hosts the Thanaka Grinding Festival. During this time, the women grind Thanaka tree bark into a fine pulp and use it to make a yellow face cream (known as "Thanaka paste" or "sun paste.") It's the same cream you see Burmese people—both males and females—wearing throughout the year for sun protection and as a beauty cream. During the festival, villagers wash Buddha images with the paste.
Shwemawdaw Pagoda Festival: April is the month that the Shwemawdaw Pagoda (also called the Golden God Temple) hosts its annual festival. The jubilant ten-day event, which honors the country's tallest padoga (an impressive sight in itself), occurs in the town of Bago. It draws folks from all over the region who come in to pay homage to the sacred pagoda.
Traveling to Myanmar in April? Check out this great itinerary
Best of Southern Myanmar – 7 Days: Rather than going to the hot, dry plains of Mandalay and Bagan, this magnificent seven-day tour takes you to the gorgeous mountains and beaches of southern Myanmar, making it a perfect April excursion. It includes tours of the British colonial architecture in Dawei, a trip to Thanbyuzayat's "Death Railway," and snorkeling off the islands of the Mergui Archipelago.