There's no question that it's hot in Myanmar in March. The temperatures aren't quite as intense as they are in April and May—the hottest months in Myanmar—but if you're heat-averse, you might want to stay out of the central plains. You'll feel it the most in these regions (which include the cities of Mandalay, Bagan, and Yangon) where temperatures averages about 97 degrees throughout the month.
That said, it's a fantastic time to head to the mountains around Inle Lake and Kalaw where it's only about 80 to 85 degrees. The beaches are also fantastic this time of year. The average temperature in Ngapali, for example, is about 91 degrees, and there's a warm ocean breeze. The combination makes it perfect beach-going weather. Rain-wise, you don't have to worry much about precipitation. March is known as a dry month and there's hardly any rainfall throughout the country.
Crowds and Costs
One of the best parts about traveling to Myanmar in March is that the crowds aren't as thick as they are earlier in the season during December, January, and February—the peak tourist months. You'll still see folks at the tourist attractions and your hotels will by no means be empty. However, you won't be scrambling to get a photo at the temples or worrying that a tour might book up. Not only that, the costs come down slightly so it's likely that you'll pay a little bit less for your hotel room.
Where to Go
March is a wonderful time to visit the mountains, particularly around Inle lake where the temperature hovers comfortably in the mid-80s and the skies are generally clear. These are perfect conditions for exploring the lake and taking boat rides through the lush, verdant river canals. You'll see thousands of water bird species including egrets, herons, cormorants, and others. Best of all, many of the migratory birds that leave in April will still be around in March, especially in the beginning and middle of the month.
Kalaw will be similarly pleasant temperature-wise. It's not the best time to make the trek in between the two towns because there's so much wide open space (that gets hot) but it's is a great month to ride horses or take day hikes around town.
The southern beaches are also wonderful to explore during March. The rains haven't begun yet so the roads getting there are all accessible, as is local transportation once you've arrived. The air temperature is hot—around 93 degrees in Ngapali and somewhere in the 80s in Ngwe Saung—but if you're planning to spend time in the ocean or swimming in the big resort pools, you won't feel it as much, especially with the sea breeze.
Mandalay, Bagan, and Yangon can be unpleasantly hot during March. However, the crowds are thinner so if these cities are of interest to you and you don't mind the heat (a hotel with A.C. makes a huge difference), it can actually be a great time to visit. You won't have these cities completely to yourself but the number or tourists will be significantly lower than in January and February, especially toward the end of the month as the temperature begins creeping up even more. For people willing to brave the heat, it's a great time for exploring the ancient ruins or watching sunrise over the city.
What to Do
In March, the weather is perfect for a long-boat ride around Inle Lake. Not only that, the lack of crowds makes the experience more enjoyable as you weave in and out of reeded canals and wind through markets on stilts. Have your boat driver take you to visit the cigar-making ladies or check out the hand-spun silks. There is a shop where the Kayan (“longneck”) women weave gorgeous hand-made scarves, and the beautiful Hpaung Daw U Pagoda.
In the evening, hire a driver to take you up the hillside to the stunning Red Mountain Estate Vineyards where you can sip Malbec and eat dinner overlooking the valley at sunset—the views are absolutely spectacular. This unique 10-Day Highlights of Myanmar tour features a visit to the Inle Lake region (including a trip to the Nge Phe Chaung wooden monastery and the sacred stupas of Indein).
Outside the mountains, the beaches of Ngapali and Ngwe Saung on the southwestern coast offer crystal clear blue waters with opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, sea kayaking, and other aquatic activities. There's also spectacular birdwatching in this region, particularly around the scenic Nghet Pyaw Chaung Lake where more than two dozen avian species can be spotted. Another option is to visit the Thandwe Market, or check out the clay pottery at the Kinmaw Village.
If you make it to Mandalay, Bagan, or Yangon, check out the temples and ancient ruins. They will be hot but the history is remarkable. In Old Bagan, check out the Shwesandaw Pagoda where there are tons of archaeological ruins. In Yangon, check out the Sule Pagoda where you can pour water over the Buddha that corresponds with your birthday. This 10-Day Explore Myanmar trip features stops in both Bagan and Yangon. In Mandalay, March is a great time for a scenic hot air balloon ride—if you do it at sunrise you'll catch the best panoramic views and also take advantage of the cooler morning air.
Events in March
Pindaya Pagoda Festival: In early March, thousands of people descend on the Pindaya Caves, about two hours northwest of Inle Lake, for a week-long celebration. Inside the caves, participants pay homage to 8,000 images of Buddha that decorate the walls. Outside, vendors sell food and people celebrate with music and dance.
Shwedagon Pagoda Festival: Celebrated every year on the full moon day of Tabaung, the Shwedagon Pagoda Festival is one of the biggest events in Myanmar. It takes place in Yangon where people pour water into a hallowed Bo-tree and participate in other rituals, along with days of celebration.
Bawgyo Pagoda Festival: During March's full moon, the Bawgyo Pagoda hosts an annual festival where devotees come from all over to worship four wooden Buddhas outside the pagoda.
Indawgyi Shwe Myitzu Pagoda Festival: Every March, deep in the mountains about 8 hours north of Mandalay, the town of Hopin hosts a giant festival honoring the Shwe Myitzu Pagoda on Indawgyi Lake that draws more than 100,000 people. Festivities for the big event, which last for ten days around the full moon, include music, concerts, and boat races. The pagoda is located on a small island in the lake but this time of year water levels drop and it can be accessed by foot.
Traveling to Myanmar in March? Check out this great itinerary
Essential Myanmar – 8 Days: This trip includes the ancient ruins of Bagan, the marble temples of Mandalay, and the scenic canals of Inle Lake.