Myanmar destination guide

Best time to visit Myanmar

The monsoon weather patterns of Southeast Asia bring with it a distinct dry season which is typically split between a cool season from November to January/February and a hot season from March to May. After the scorching heat of the hot season, monsoon rains bring a distinctly rainy season which lasts from June to October. The central region, which is protected by the Arakan mountain range, experiences significantly less rain than other regions of the country.

Weather

The cool season in Myanmar brings with it humid warm days with cool refreshing evenings. It rarely rains during the cool season and the weather can get quite chilly in the mountainous areas, sometimes close to freezing at night. The hot season brings with it high tropical temperatures that reach their peak in April and May. Myanmar’s central region experiences the highest temperatures in the country during this time. The most rain occurs in the delta and coastal areas of the country. The central region of the country usually experiences about half as much rain as the delta and coastal areas. The north of the country is cooler in the hot season; However, it receives more rain than the central areas in the rainy season.

The best time to visit Myanmar is in the cool dry months from November to February. Another great time to visit the country is during the hot season which hosts Burmese New Year in mid-to-early April. Local people celebrate the New Year by splashing water on each other and it’s a great way to beat the heat and have a great time getting acquainted with lowland Burmese culture.

 

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Best time to go

Yangon

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
18℃ 19℃ 22℃ 24℃ 25℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 24℃ 23℃ 19℃
 Average maximum temperature
32℃ 33℃ 36℃ 36℃ 33℃ 30℃ 29℃ 29℃ 30℃ 31℃ 31℃ 31℃
 Average hours of sunshine
10 10 10 10 7 4 3 3 5 6 6 8
 Average rainfall in mm
3 5 8 51 307 480 582 528 394 180 69 10

Bagan, Mt Popa, Central Myanmar

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
1530℃ 15℃ 19℃ 23℃ 25℃ 25℃ 25℃ 25℃ 25℃ 24℃ 20℃ 18℃
 Average maximum temperature
30℃ 31℃ 35℃ 37℃ 36℃ 31℃ 32℃ 32℃ 32℃ 31℃ 30℃ 28℃
 Average hours of sunshine
9 9 9 8 7 5 4 4 5 6 8 8
 Average rainfall in mm
5 3 3 30 140 300 320 288 233 170 52 10

Mandalay, Pyin Oo Lwin

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
13℃ 15℃ 20℃ 24℃ 26℃ 26℃ 26℃ 25℃ 25℃ 23℃ 19℃ 15℃
 Average maximum temperature
29℃ 32℃ 36℃ 38℃ 36℃ 34℃ 34℃ 32℃ 33℃ 32℃ 30℃ 28℃
 Average hours of sunshine
10 10 9 9 8 7 6 6 7 7 8 9
 Average rainfall in mm
4 3 1 40 138 116 83 136 150 125 38 6

Inle Lake, Nyaung Shwe, Central Myanmar

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
106℃ 10℃ 16℃ 18℃ 20℃ 20℃ 19℃ 19℃ 19℃ 18℃ 16℃ 11℃
 Average maximum temperature
25℃ 27℃ 32℃ 32℃ 30℃ 27℃ 26℃ 26℃ 27℃ 27℃ 25℃ 24℃
 Average hours of sunshine
9 10 9 9 6 5 3 4 6 6 7 8
 Average rainfall in mm
6 4 6 50 165 188 190 262 240 180 63 12

Ngapali Beach, Western Myanmar

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
30℃ 14℃ 14℃ 18℃ 23℃ 25℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 20℃ 16℃
 Average maximum temperature
30℃ 31℃ 33℃ 34℃ 33℃ 30℃ 29℃ 30℃ 30℃ 32℃ 32℃ 30℃
 Average hours of sunshine
9 9 9 9 6 5 4 4 5 6 6 8
 Average rainfall in mm
3 3 2 19 280 1230 1300 1300 590 330 70 10

Hpa An, Moulmein

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
18℃ 19℃ 22℃ 23℃ 25℃ 25℃ 23℃ 23℃ 24℃ 23℃ 22℃ 18℃
 Average maximum temperature
31℃ 32℃ 34℃ 34℃ 32℃ 29℃ 29℃ 28℃ 29℃ 31℃ 32℃ 31℃
 Average hours of sunshine
10 10 10 9 7 5 5 5 5 6 8 9
 Average rainfall in mm
4 4 7 38 370 770 911 990 500 195 32 8

Mergui Archipelago, Southern Myanmar

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
20℃ 22℃ 23℃ 24℃ 24℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 23℃ 22℃
 Average maximum temperature
32℃ 32℃ 33℃ 33℃ 31℃ 29℃ 29℃ 29℃ 29℃ 30℃ 30℃ 30℃
 Average hours of sunshine
9 9 9 8 6 5 5 5 5 5 7 8
 Average rainfall in mm
22 25 36 130 480 700 660 744 633 377 152 39

Kengtung, Eastern Myanmar

Weather (monthly averages)

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 Average minimum temperature
9℃ 10℃ 13℃ 17℃ 20℃ 21℃ 21℃ 20℃ 20℃ 18℃ 15℃ 11℃
 Average maximum temperature
25℃ 28℃ 31℃ 32℃ 32℃ 29℃ 28℃ 28℃ 28℃ 27℃ 26℃ 26℃
 Average hours of sunshine
8 8 8 8 6 5 4 4 5 6 7 7
 Average rainfall in mm
18 9 17 50 160 180 244 259 184 134 77 23

General travel tips

Currency

The local currency in Myanmar is the kyat (pronounced 'chat'). US Dollars and Euros are accepted in most hotels and some tourist shops and restaurants, although it is recommended to carry kyat for other purchases, local restaurants and tipping. Moneychangers are found in the main tourist cities.

Clothing

Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for travelling in Myanmar. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A light-weight raincoat and umbrella are a good idea in the rainy season and the umbrella can also offer useful shade from the sun.

Evenings in the hill stations and on Inle Lake can be quite chilly so bring a sweater or other warm clothing if visiting these areas. This applies especially for the winter months November-February for treks and the Inle lake area where early morning boat rides can be quite cold. Visitors should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting pagodas and monasteries.

Shoes (and socks!) must be removed before entering any religious building or private home.

Dance & Theatre

Classical dance-drama often features solo performances by female dancers who wear dresses with long white trains that they kick into the air with their heels during the foot movements. Yoktheipwe, or Burmese marionette theatre, uses colourful puppets up to a metre tall and is considered the most expressive of all the Burmese arts. It is also extremely skilful as some marionettes may have up to 60 strings, including one for each eyebrow.

Electricity

Myanmar uses 220V, and a mixture of flat 2-pin, round 2-pin or 3-pin plugs. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor.

Food

The staples of Burmese cuisine are rice, rice noodles, and curries. The main ingredient of the meal is usually rice and the curries tend to be not as spicy as those from India or Thailand. A clear soup called hingyo accompanies most meals and a fermented fish sauce or paste called ngapiye is usually served to add to the flavour. Chinese, Indian and European food is served in restaurants at most tourist places.

Health  

As always when travelling, it is essential to have good health insurance and consult your doctor about necessary health precautions, such as vaccinations or pills. There are basic medical facilities available in Myanmar.  

Language

The national language of Myanmar is Burmese, of which there are over 80 different dialects spoken. The written language uses an amazing looking script based on ancient Indian characters. In the cities many of the older generation still speak very good English and it is also becoming popular again with the younger generation.

People

Although there are many ethnic groups in Myanmar, it can be roughly divided into four: Tibeto-Burmese, Mon-Khmer, Karen and Thai-Chinese. The first group includes the main Burmese people and more than 30 smaller tribes while the other three groups are less diverse.

Approximately 2-3 million Karen live in Myanmar, forming the third biggest ethnic group in the country. They are mainly farmers living either in the south-east near to the border with Thailand, or in the west of Myanmar near the Indian border. The women of the Padaung tribe, a subgroup of the Karen, are known for wearing heavy rings of brass around their necks and are called ‘giraffe women’ since the heavy rings push down the shoulders and elongate the neck.

The Shan consist of various tribes with a history dating back to the 3rd century BC. They are found today in the border regions of the north, north-west, east, and on the borders with Laos and Thailand. Although most of them are Buddhists, animism still plays a significant role in everyday life.

The Mon people, who are found mainly in the regions around Mawlamyine and Bago, have had a big impact on arts and culture. They are Buddhists and have their own language. Today, approximately 1.3 million Mon live in Myanmar.

The Kachin live in the remotest northern state. They include about 62 different tribes, some Christians and some animists. Their unique bamboo and wood houses are constructed in an oval shape; the first floor is used for animals and storage and the second floor is used as the living quarters.

Religion

Theravada Buddhism is the dominant religion in Myanmar and over 85% of the population prac-tice it. The monastery is the traditional focal point of village life in Myanmar and monks rely on villagers for donations of both money and food. Every boy in Myanmar is expected to spend some time as a monk. The remainder of the population are Christians, Muslims and animists.

Road travel

Road travel allows visitors to see more of the country and is a great way to get closer to the land and its people. However some distances are quite long in Myanmar, and they are even longer because road conditions make (relatively) fast travelling difficult. Roads are in poor conditions although efforts are being made to upgrade most roads especially after the yearly rainy season which ends in October. The relatively old vehicles used in Myanmar also make long distance travel less comfortable than in neighbouring countries.

Shopping

There are many fantastic local products in Myanmar that make excellent souvenirs and memories from your trip. Traditional crafts include lacquer ware, especially in Bagan, woodcarvings, stone carvings, bronze work, rattan, silver jewellery, silk longyis and hand-woven textiles.

Time difference

Myanmar is 6 ½ hrs ahead of GMT in winter and 5 ½ hrs in summer

Tipping

Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in a country where the average annual income is only around 250 USD. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters can also be tipped.

Transportation  

Air -The best way to get around in Myanmar is by flying. Air Mandalay, Air Bagan and Yangon Airways are private airlines and provide services to all regional centres.  

Train - The train service is wonderful for those who would like to experience the British Raj style of travel although standards are very basic. Big delays do occur due to climatic and technical problems.  

Boat - Cruises on the major arterial rivers are also very popular and a restive form of transport.

Water

It is not advisable to drink tap water but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere. All hotels provide a complimentary bottle of local mineral water per per-son in the room. Ice cubes in drinks is generally OK in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in country areas. Some minor stomach problems are always possible when travelling in exotic countries. Bring a supply of your usual anti-diarrhoea medicine.

Visas

All persons wishing to enter Myanmar must have a visa and a passport with at least 6 months validity. Visas must be arranged prior to travelling to Myanmar. An e visa facility is available.