The best time to visit Burma is between December and March: there is no rain and it doesn't get too hot at this time of year. The southwestern monsoon season begins between May and June and lasts until October. From March to May, the heat is practically unbearable
. On the other hand, this is a good time of year to enjoy the mountains, where the climate is much cooler. The best time to explore this extraordinary country and its absolutely fascinating sites, therefore, is during the winter months. You are certain to find Burma a charming place, but avoid the really hot months.
Rangoon and the surrounding area
Rangoon, once Burma's capital, is today the country's most fascinating city. Go to see the Shwedagon Pagoda there, the country's main religious center, before heading off to tour the surrounding area. You will be captivated by the "floating" pagodas and the city of Pathein, which lies not far away. The period from November to March is the best time to visit this intoxicating region. At all other times of year the heat is intense and it rains a great deal.
This is the region of the wonderful Inle Lake and the magnificent hills that surround it. Take a trip out on the water to see the stilt houses, an experience you'll find enchanting, before heading off to the Kalaw region to go hiking. You will be able to discover and learn about medicinal herbs and the local folklore during your visit there. Another thing to do is explore the border region and its tribal culture by visiting Kengtung and the surrounding area. There are also numerous pagodas and mountain villages for you to see there. Go between November and February
to avoid the rainy season and the overwhelming heat of summer.
The center of the country: Mandalay and the surrounding area
Mandalay, the traditional heart of the country, offers a landscape of plains and rice fields, which you can admire before heading off to the Shan Hills to go hiking. Visit the historical site of Bagan and discover its 4000 temples, where depictions of Hindu and Buddhist figures are to be seen alongside those of local spirits. Take a horse-drawn carriage or bicycle tour and spend a day hiking up to the summit of Mount Popa, the extinct volcano where the spirits of Myanmar reside. You can visit the central part of the country more or less any time you like as it's a relatively dry region all year round. Just avoid the tremendously hot summer months. And be sure not to miss the sunset over the hills of Bagan or the domesticated elephant camps just outside Taungoo.
West Burma is very different from the rest of the country. The area's inhabitants speak a different language, their food is different, etc. Arakan is not very open to visitors, but it is a beautiful region and well worth an excursion to see. Fly from Rangoon and take a trip by boat to Mrauk U, formerly the country's capital. The town combines 700 temples with a village way of life that is impressive for both its uniqueness and the extent to which it has been preserved and protected. Visit this part of the country in the dry season to avoid the rain and the excessive heat.
The north of the country, which is crossed only by a few roads, is the least inhabited area of Myanmar. This is the region where the famous "Ice Mountains" of the Himalayan Myanmar are to be found. These can only be reached via routes that take you on a round-trip. All journeys in this area of the country are very long, so it is preferable to go in the dry season to avoid having to wait for buses and other modes of transport in the rain, which would make the trip difficult and unpleasant. The mountains can also be visited between March and May: this is the only place in the country where the heat is bearable at that this time of year!
Winter is the best time to visit the southeast of the country: at all other times of the year the heat is suffocating, and if you go during the rainy season, between May and October
, you won't enjoy your trip as much. There are fascinating local legends to learn about in this area, which lies sandwiched between Thailand on one side and the superb Andaman Sea on the other. It's in this region that you can observe the monks heading in lines to the giant, gold-covered rock of Kyaiktiyo. The further south you go, the closer you get to a landscape of palm trees and beaches, from where an archipelago of little islands is the only thing to be seen.