A beautiful and culturally rich country cursed for decades with a brutally oppressive regime, Myanmar (Burma) has in recent years been making headlines for its tentative steps towards democracy. Following the softening and then removal of a fifteen-year tourism boycott led by the National League for Democracy – Myanmar’s leading political opposition party – tourist numbers have swollen but the infrastructure has not yet grown to accommodate them all.
Although this means that finding a cheap bed is harder than before, it does make this a fascinating time to discover Myanmar’s glittering golden stupas, bountiful rice fields, enigmatic ruined temples and picturesque mountain paths. Most memorable of all, though, are the encounters with people eager to introduce foreigners to their country and their culture. What remains to be seen is whether today’s modest political reforms translate into lasting change.
Myanmar (Burma) has opened its borders in 2012 and revealed an Asian country in its purest form. Every single local gives his/her best smile. There is no other country you will feel more welcome than in Myanmar. The country is huge, bigger than Thailand, and it is a little harder to get around, so it is recommended to at least take 2 weeks to see all the highlights.
- This is one of the richest archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Its highlights can be summed up in a word: temples.
- The city boasts a beautiful blend of culture and landscapes. From Indian streets to exotic China town and styled Burmese township, as well as the magnificent Shwedagon, lively markets, tranquil lakes and numerous monasteries.
- Inle Lake is one of the major tourist attractions in Myanmar. There are the famous Intha rowers with their unique “stand-on-one-leg-row-with-the-other” technique.
- The cool season is from October to February when the temperatures are more moderate and there is little or no rain. Myanmar can become extremely busy during this time, so plan your visit well in advance.
- The wet season brings brief but heavy showers, mainly in the afternoon, which rarely affect touring and brings Myanmar’s lush landscapes to life.
- As a general rule north, upper central and eastern regions are at a higher altitude than those in the west, lower central and south where humidity is higher and temperatures in excess of 40°C are not uncommon during March and April. Throughout the country in all but the hottest months of the year it is often advisable to have a jumper or fleece for the evenings, when there is a tendency for it to get quite cool.
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In a nutshell, although you can visit Myanmar all year round, due to its tropical climate. However, as a general rule, try to avoid visiting Myanmar from June to September. During this time (especially from July to September), the wet season is in full swing. Places like Ngapali Beach during this time closes down due to inaccessible roads.
The best time to visit most of Myanmar is from November to February as it is neither too hot to walk around due to the cool breeze that blows in. March to May, on the other hand, are boiling hot, especially in the plains near Bagan and Mandalay. If you are planning a last-minute holiday, be aware that the peak months of November to February are the busiest, and flights and accommodation are likely to be booked up far in advance.