When planning the best time to visit Myanmar (Burma), it’s important to consider seasons. This is particularly true when planning to travel in Myanmar by river cruise. One of the most important factors to consider are the weather patterns. It’s critical to prepare for a variety of weather possibilities depending on your travel season, and the river on which you will be cruising.
Layering clothing items is always your best bet, as this allows each person to adjust to any temperature, including artificially maintained temperature (such as the ship’s indoor air-condition lounge), by removing or adding items throughout the day.
Most of Myanmar has a tropical monsoon climate with three seasons: cool, hot, and rainy. The best season depends on your travel goals as explained below:
The “cool” season, the ideal travel period for an Irrawaddy River cruise, goes from November to February. It is generally warm to hot during the day with the air being relatively dry. This time of year is considered the most comfortable time to travel in Myanmar having the least humidity, and the clearest conditions. However, the “cool” period is also the peak travel season for this part of the world, so expect to see less vacancy and higher prices for river tours, hotels, and airfare.
If you don’t mind the heat and a little more humidity, the “hot” season is still a great time to cruise the Irrawaddy in Myanmar. During this time of year, you will often find that the popular destinations will be less crowded and you may even find better deals on hotels and airfare. In both the “cool” and “dry” seasons, it is very unlikely that you will experience much rain.
The “rainy” season, also known as the monsoon season, runs from June to October. This period is known for having the most intense rainfall. The heaviest rains occur between June and August, with intermittent rainfall in September and October.
While these conditions would appear not ideal for river cruising, the increased rainfall and rising level of the river create a lush, green landscape and allow cruises farther north into the shallower Chindwin River. The ideal time for a Chindwin River cruise, the largest tributary of the Irrawaddy, is from July to September. During this season the river level will accommodate itineraries that would otherwise be inaccessible due to water levels other times of the year.
Another factor that you may consider when planning a trip to Myanmar are the events and festivals taking place throughout the year. Among the more communal events are the “pagoda festivals”. These festivals celebrate the founding, construction, and history of various well-known pagodas, or sacred temples, around the country.
Some of the more famous festivals include Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda festival in February/March and Bagan’s Schwezigon pagoda festival in November. Large festivals like this often attract many different peoples from across Myanmar and even around the world, bringing with them local music, dance, cultural performances, and a variety of local food stalls.
These types of events are a great way to really immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of Myanmar. However, it is worth mentioning that during festival times, travel can be more difficult and accommodations harder to find due to the large influx of locals and travelers visiting the cities.
If you’d like to know more about the best time to visit Myanmar, contact us for more information about Myanmar River tours.
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