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Visit Myanmar in the Rainy Season: Little rain, big rewards

  • By Easia Admin
  • May, 01, 2018

As we sit here in our Yangon office looking out the window, it is clear that the rainy season has set in. Puddles fill the streets, sidewalk vendors have hoisted up huge umbrellas over their shops and there is less pedestrian traffic than usual. We also can see the change in the natural landscapes – the skies are clear of dust and the parks are a rich, deep green colour.

The rainy season starts in May and continues through to September or October. This period coincides with the ‘low season’ for tourists who may be misled into thinking the rains prevent any travel. However not only is it possible to travel in the rainy season, it is also one of the best times to be here.

Firstly we need to dispel the myth that it is ‘not possible’ travel to Myanmar in the rainy season. It’s true that some hotels at Ngapali beach closed due to heavy rain and low occupancy and cruises are limited due to low water levels, but the rest of the country is accessible.

 

Yangon does get its fair share of rain as do the southern towns of Hpa An and Mawlamyine. The rains vary from an all-day drizzle to a two-hour intense storm or sometimes a combination of both. It is unpredictable but if you are prepared for it, it can be quite enjoyable. Up-country, the rainy patterns are a bit different. Bagan and Mandalay, for instance, rarely received all-day rain. In fact, most storms are 2 hours or less and occur in the late evening or early morning, leaving the days free and clear to explore. The central Shan State (Inle Lake, Kalaw, Pindaya) is also unpredictable but generally a light drizzle throughout the day or one heavy shower in the early morning can be expected. The temperatures here at night will be noticeably cooler and thus it can feel a bit damp. The coast gets hit the hardest and, thus, most beach resorts close for the rainy season. A few properties stay open at ChaungTha and Ngwe Saung beaches but it is rare to have sunny days from May to September.

 

The first benefit is the limited number of tourists in the rainy season. Myanmar is still a relatively un-touristy country. For example, an estimated 300,000 foreigners visit Bagan every year compared to the 3 million that descend upon Angkor Wat annually. Given that most of these tourists come to Myanmar between November and March you are likely to find sites empty in the rainy months. On a recent Saturday, we headed to PhaungDaw Oo Pagoda on Inle Lake at midday and were the only foreign tourists there. This is quite a contrast to November when you have to fight through the crowds to get close to the main Buddha images.

As a result of these smaller crowds, low season visitors also experience better service. Hotel occupancy levels fall dramatically during this period with some properties utilizing only 10% of their rooms and restaurants also experience a slowdown in bookings. This means your travelers will get extra personalised attention from the staff, be able to enjoy quick service at meals and be able to talk to shop owners about their products without having to wait.

 

Hotels and cruises also offer promotion prices to attract more visitors during the low season which means great savings can be had, especially on the higher-end properties. It is a fantastic opportunity to upgrade your stay to nicer hotels without breaking the budget. And since crowds are thin, you can almost be guaranteed to get your first choice hotel.

Aside from low crowds and cheaper prices, the rainy season brings with it other benefits. In most of the country, the rains help clear the skies and everything is in bloom. The Shan hills are patchworks of vibrant colours from the various crops growing, Bagan has lush green fields amid the brick-red temples and Mandalay’s outskirts are filled with rice paddies aligned in perfect rows. For photographers, this is the best time to capture the natural beauty and colours of Myanmar.

The locals embrace the rains and it is fun to see them enjoying it. After months of dry heat, the rains bring cool, breezy evenings and early mornings in many regions of Myanmar and the locals take advantage of it. During the day most people stay inside to stay dry and cool but in the evening, in neighborhoods, parks and other public areas families and friends come out to play games, go for walks or have a drink. Even if it is still raining it is common to see kids- and sometimes adults- out splashing in the puddles and falling rain, cooling off after the hot day. It is fun to see the ways the smiles on their faces as they make the most of the wet weather.

 

Few crowds, beautiful landscapes, smiling faces, great service and fantastic value: Not only is it possible to visit Myanmar in the rainy months it may actually be the best time to visit Myanmar.

For more innovative itineraries in this special season, please contact us at marketing@easia-travel.com

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