Myanmar is quite unlike anywhere else in Southeast Asia or the world. The term ‘Southeast Asia’ is regularly used as a catch-all for the countries south of China and north of Australia. While these countries certainly have their similarities, they each retain their own unique features. Below, we've outlined 5 things that make Myanmar special and unique.
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Myanmar is an amazing place to witness some of the most unique festivals in the world. There is always something taking place somewhere in the country. Most festivals are cultural and religious, offering intriguing and colorful experiences for visitors. Dates change each year, so check which will be on while you're traveling through the country. It's a particularly good idea to look out for the lively pagoda festivals, which happen regularly and throughout Myanmar.
'Sar pi bi, lah?' Meaning 'Have you eaten?', is a common greeting throughout Myanmar. That just goes to show how seriously they take their food! But most travelers do not know what to expect when it comes to Myanmar cuisine. Read on to find out about the exotic flavors and culinary culture of the Golden Land.
The people of Myanmar are incredibly friendly and welcoming. Meeting and mingling with them is often a highlight of people's trip to Myanmar. Below, we've outlined a few of our favorite places for experiencing local culture that are easy to add to your Myanmar holiday itinerary.
When to visit Myanmar
January is one of the best times of the year to visit Myanmar. Weather is at its finest—temperatures range from 70 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit, and it's drier than other times of the year. You'll enjoy a warm, pleasant atmosphere that isn't hot and sweltering (like it can be in April or May), nor rainy and wet (like July or August). The only drawback to visiting in January is that crowds are usually thick, and lodging tends to be more expensive.
February is one of the best times to visit Myanmar—especially the first half of the month, before the temperatures start to rise. With warm, dry weather, it's a wonderful time just about everywhere in the country. The downside is that these pleasant conditions also make it fairly crowded—hotels are more expensive, guided tours fill up, and most of the tourist spots have crowds. Still, it's a fantastic time to visit.
March is a shoulder season in Myanmar. You don't have to worry about rain, although the increasing temperatures—which range from 81 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit—can be uncomfortable in the central plains and other open valleys. Generally speaking, it's a more pleasant time to be in the mountains where it's cooler, or on the coast where you can spend your time in the ocean or sitting by the pool. Crowds thin out significantly compared to February, so you won't have to contend with as many fellow tourists.
April is low season in Myanmar due to the extreme heat in many parts of the country. The mountains are a bit cooler around Inle Lake and Kalaw but the big tourist cities of Mandalay, Bagan, and Yangon are typically scorching throughout the month. The upside? Skies are clear almost every day, and in the middle of the month, locals celebrate their New Year with fun festivities. This is also a great time to take advantage of the crowdless beaches and cooler mountain towns.
Although not quite as hot as April (the hottest month of the year), May nevertheless sees above-average temperatures in Myanmar, especially during the first half of the month. This is a good time to head to the mountains or hit some of the drier parts of the coast, as much of the central plains (Mandalay, Bagan, and Yangon) will be uncomfortably hot. This can actually be a fantastic time to plan a trip, even to the hotter areas, because the rain is light and crowds are few.
June kicks off the rainy season, but temperatures are warm and it can still be an excellent time to visit, depending where you go. The wet weather keeps crowds away, so you'll have the tourist sites virtually to yourself. And since the showers are scattered, you can be outside without getting poured on, a good thing since the scenery is gorgeous this time of year—there's foliage everywhere and Myanmar's botanical gardens come to life.
If you don't mind the rain, July is a wonderful time to visit Myanmar. The big tourist crowds disappear. and in Myanmar's "Big Four" destinations (Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake, and Yangon), you'll find not only fewer people but also lower prices. The downside, of course, is that aside from August, July is the wettest month of the year. That said, most destinations in the north receive regular breaks of sunshine throughout the day, during which you can wander around comfortably and explore the sites.
In August, the wet season is in full effect, and though that makes some places more lush and beautiful, it also means you're likely to experience some heavy downpours. That said—it's not monsoon weather everywhere in the country. Although the coast and southern cities get hit hard, there are plenty of regions in the north and around the mountains that are spared some of the heavy flooding and torrential downpours. The weather is still warm and, best of all, the crowds completely disappear.
If you like mountains, temples, and historic ruins, September is a great month to visit Myanmar. It's a shoulder month that comes at the end of the wet season, offering decent weather without many crowds. Although the beaches remain closed due to rainfall, other parts of the country beginning seeing less rain and nicer weather. It's still a hot part of the season but it's not sweltering like it is in April or May. Plus, the crowds taper back significantly so you can soak up the scenery without hordes of tourists everywhere.
October is a fantastic time of year to visit Myanmar. After a long wet season, the rain finally begins tapering off and the storms on the coast let up. People start arriving again and, though you won't enjoy the same lack of crowds that you do in the middle of August, it's nevertheless much less busy than during peak season. For this reason, you can often find good deals on hotels, too.
The month of November, which marks the kickoff of peak tourist season, is without a doubt one of the best times to visit Myanmar. The temperatures drop to a more comfortable level and the rains dry up. The coasts become sunny and beautiful, and in the mountains the scenery is stunning. It's a time when you can visit virtually any part of the country and find pleasant, travel-friendly weather.
December is one of the best months of the year to visit Myanmar. The weather is warm but not suffocatingly hot, and there's virtually no rain anywhere in sight. The flip-side to the amazing weather, of course, is that it attracts a lot of people—the second half of December through mid-January is the busiest time of year. That means you won't have those idyllic Mandalay sunrises all to yourself as you might in June, but most people find it worth braving the crowds.