If you visit Myanmar in August, there's no getting around the fact that you'll need to prepare for rain—it's the wettest month of the year. The monsoons hit the coast hard and most of the beaches, particularly in the southwest along the Bay of Bengal, shut down completely due to washed-out roads.
Temperatures range anywhere from 75 to 91 degrees with warmer weather in the south and cooler conditions in the mountains and northern central plains. Yangon and Inle Lake get roughly 12 inches of rain in August while the northern towns of Bagan and Mandalay receive about 6 and 7.4 inches, respectively.
Keep in mind that the infrastructure is delicate in Myanmar and many roads get washed out completely this time of year, especially on the coast. It's a month when air travel is typically preferable to bus or private vehicle (although flights can sometimes be delayed or canceled too due to weather).
Also note that August and July are the peak months for the transmission of dengue fever because mosquitos use the puddles to breed in. Be sure to be vigilant about using mosquito protection.
Crowds and Costs
The beauty of Myanmar in August, aside from the lush mountains and stunning green foliage, is how few people there are. Myanmar isn't a place that sees a huge amount of tourism to begin with and during the rainy season, some regions can feel like ghost towns, at least as far as other tourists are concerned. If you head up to Inle Lake, many of the lodges on the water will be practically empty and you'll feel like you have a lake resort all to yourself.
In other cities such as Yangon and Mandalay, it can seem similarly vacant—or at least not as crowded as it is during peak season. Additionally, the prices will be better, too. Many hotels run rainy season specials, and you may find discounts on food and activities, too.
Where to Go
Bagan and Mandalay are great places to visit during August because they receive significantly less rainfall than Yangon, Inle Lake, and other tourist attractions. The temperature is about 90 degrees in both cities so it's warm but not sweltering hot like April or May, and the mornings occasionally have breaks in the rain. Just keep in mind that many of the tourist attractions in these cities are outdoors so you'll need to have a good raincoat and a rain-friendly attitude.
If you're someone who loves misty, foggy mountains, lush greenery, and lightning storms over natural bodies of water, Inle Lake will feel also like paradise this time of year. Although you will definitely be hit with heavy storms, the region has a mystical quality in August that many people find enchanting.
If you stay in one of the many lodges directly on the water, it's a great place to curl up with a book overlooking the lake, watching the rain come down on the mountains. During the breaks in the rain—often in the mornings—you can hire a long-boat driver to explore the floating markets and waterways. Just make sure that if you're traveling by road you check to make sure it's passable.
The southern part of the country, including Yangon, as well as the beaches, are typically not the greatest places to visit in August. Although Yangon features a number of indoor attractions such as museums and certain temples, the coast has very little to offer this time of year. The streets get flooded to the point of being impassable and most of the resorts shut their doors to guests. Golden Rock will be fogged over and probably not visible at sunrise either. For the most enjoyable trip to Myanmar in August, stick to the northern parts of the country or the mountains around Inle Lake.
What to Do
August is a great time to climb Mandalay Hill, a gorgeous viewpoint overlooking the beautiful city of Mandalay. The lookout point is accessed by a flight of 1,729 steps inside a Buddhist shrine. The steps are covered so this is actually the perfect time to do this hike since it's cooler than other times of the year. Just be careful on the set of narrow white steps toward the top—they're quite steep and if it's raining hard enough, they can get wet and slippery, even with the cover.
While you're in Mandalay, check out this two-day "Mandalay Munchies: A Culinary Discovery" tour that introduces you to amazing Burmese cuisine.
In Bagan, it will be rainy at times but the desert-like climate typically means these showers are scattered with breaks of sunshine in between. The afternoons tend to be rainier so head out in the morning to explore the ancient archaeological ruins such as the Shwezigon Temple or King Kyansittha's Ananda Temple. It's a good time of year to take a Grasshopper Adventures bike tour of the temples (which allows you to pedal to cover if needed) or a bus tour (which lets you see some of the sites from the comfort of a bus. Walking around the temples this time of year without a bike or tour bus is less advisable because the weather can change quickly and you don't want to get stuck.
If you make it to Inle Lake, it's a wonderful time to simply curl up with a book inside one of the waterside lodges, or get a massage and pamper yourself. You'll be treated to beautiful views of the misty mountains and spectacular evening lightning storms. During breaks in the weather, check out the golden Hpaung Daw U Pagoda or stop by the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery that's famous for the cats that roam the grounds. Up the hillside, the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards offers amazing wine-tasting opportunities, along with mouth-watering dinner overlooking the mountains.
Events in August
Yadana Gu Nat Festival: In the town of Amarapura, the people host the Yadana Gu Nat Festival every year in August or September. The spiritual festival in Myanmar, which lasts for eight days, draws mediums and other spiritual leaders from all over the country to take part in the rituals and songs. The Buddhist event is held to honor Burmese animist spirits called Nats and during this time, participants offer food, alcohol, flowers, money, and other gifts to the spirits.
Traveling to Myanmar in August? Check out this great itinerary
Highlights of Mandalay and Bagan - 5 Days: This exciting five-day tour forgoes Yangon and some of the other wet destinations of the south, instead focusing on the drier cities of Mandalay and Bagan. This makes the itinerary perfect for an August visit.