July is undoubtedly the rainy season in Myanmar—in fact, it's the second wettest month of the year. Countrywide, roughly one in two days in July get rain with a total of about 15 rainy days for the month.
Temperature-wise, it's comparable to June, although slightly cooler. Depending on where you are, it can range anywhere from 75 degrees Fahrenheit (in mountain towns like Pyin Oo Lwin or Kalaw) to up to 93 degrees (in northern-central plains cities like Mandalay and Bagan).
The coasts get pummeled with monsoons and many of the roads wash out so it's advisable to stay away from the beaches during this time. Many of the roads inland and throughout the rest of the country get flooded too so generally speaking, it's preferable to travel by air in July.
One thing to note is that road travel can be difficult this time of year due to flooding. It's much easier and more reliable to travel by air. Additionally, it's a time when dengue fever is more present due to the puddles that mosquitos like to breed in, so be sure to use extra caution and wear high-quality bug spray at all times.
Crowds and Costs
The tradeoff for the wet weather is the wonderful lack of crowds in July. Virtually all of the tourists clear out and you'll find that many of the temples, museums, tour buses, and even simple restaurants practically empty at times. This is especially true for western tourists coming from North America, Europe, and Australia. You'll still see a fair share of Chinese and other Asian tourists, as well as among Burmese locals; however, even that is scaled back.
In addition to fewer people, the prices typically decrease, too. Especially where hotels and lodging is concerned, you'll find lots of rainy season rates, along with deals on things like food and tour packages.
Where to Go
In the northern tourist cities, especially in Bagan, there's much less rain than other parts of the country. In fact, Bagan typically averages 23 dry days in July, meaning that only 7 or 8 days a month actually get rain. This makes it a great tourist destination for July because you can walk through the archaeological ruins on most days and enjoy the history without the oppressive heat that occurs during other times of the year.
Mandalay can also be wonderful in July. It's slightly more hit-and-miss than Bagan (with more rainy days overall that tend to be heavier). However, it also gets its fair share of dry days and often the mornings are clear with showers arriving in the afternoons. Best of all, the mountains and hills around Mandalay (in towns like Pyin Oo Lwin or Hsipaw) morph into verdant wonderlands this time of year with scenery that's much prettier than during the dry season. As long as you bring a good rain jacket, it's a great time to trek through these hills and explore Myanmar's natural beauty.
Inle Lake is also exquisite this time of year. The temperature usually hovers around a comfortable 80s degrees and the mornings are misty over the lake with a mysterious, surreal quality at times. It definitely gets rain (which sometimes washes out the roads so be sure to check if you're traveling by car) but it's less frequent than conditions farther south. Plus, in between the storms, the sun will come out so it's a gorgeous time to cruise through the pretty canals by boat.
If you go to Yangon, you'll want to be prepared for heavy rain. The southern part of the country gets hit the hardest and Yangon is typically wet fairly consistently in July. That said, there's no reason not make a visit based on that—just plan for it and make sure you bring a reliable raincoat or poncho. A large number of the tourist sites are indoors anyway (i.e. temples, museums, etc.) and you'll be able to wander the city without either the crowds or the heat that are present the rest of the year.
What to Do
July is the perfect time to explore the ancient ruins of Bagan without the heavy tourist traffic or uncomfortably hot temperatures. Check out sunrise from one of the many sacred temples, and then spend the afternoon exploring the archaeological sites. Make a visit to the Shwezigon Temple which began under King Anawrahta, founder of the Pagan Dynasty.
After that, drop by the Ananda Temple which was ordered by his son King Kyansittha. If you don't want to make the arrangements yourself, try this five-day "Highlights of Mandalay and Bagan" tour which includes sunrise on an elevated pagoda platform and a sunset cruise on the Irrawaddy River.
Another option is to head to Mandalay and climb to the top of Mandalay Hill. The stunning viewpoint there is accessible via a Buddhist shrine that has 1,729 steps to the top. All of the stairs are covered so even if it's raining, it's a pleasant hike (and as a bonus, it's cooler this time of year). Outside town, check out the striking white Hsinbyume Pagoda in the town of Mingun in the Sagaing Region. When you're ready to leave the city, head to the town of Pyin Oo Lwin, about 1.5 hours northeast, where the botanical garden will be rich this time of year with blooming flora.
In the mountains of Inle Lake, stop by the gilded Hpaung Daw U Pagoda that shimmers in gold, or check out the unique Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery where cats live alongside the monks. In the early evening, take a taxi up the scenic mountainside to the Red Mountain Estate Vineyards to check out the tasting room. Sipping Cabernet Sauvignon while watching the sunset over the valley is a mesmerizing experience. The attached restaurant serves mouthwatering dinners and there's an indoor seating area if it starts raining.
Events in July
Full Moon Day of Waso: On the full moon day of Waso (the fourth month of the Burmese calendar)—which typically falls in July—the people of Myanmar kick off the upcoming three-month Buddhist Lent. During that time, monks devote more time to meditating and studying so they can't make any trips that last more than one day. The full moon day preceding it is a public holiday where villagers give the monks robes, clothes, medicine, alms, and other gifts in preparation.
Chin Lone Festival: The Chin Lone Festival, which occurs every year in late June or July, is one of the biggest festivals in Myanmar. It takes place in Mandalay for a full month during which chin lone (cane ball) tournaments occur daily at the Mahamuni Pagoda. Caneball players come in from all over Myanmar to participate in the festival which also includes food, music, and dance.
Taung Byone Nat Festival: On the eighth waxing day of Wagaung (the fifth month of the Burmese calendar), villagers host the Taung Byone Nat Festival just outside of Mandalay. The large, festive event, draws mediums and spirit guides from throughout the country who come to connect and communicate with spirits.
Traveling to Myanmar in July? Check out this great itinerary
Magnificent Myanmar – 8 Days: This exciting eight-day trip takes to some of the best July destinations including Bagan, Mandalay, and Inle Lake.