To go or not to go - Visiting Myanmar in September - Vikingess Voyages

Thursday, October 6, 2016

To go or not to go - Visiting Myanmar in September

Myanmar’s tourist season starts in October and lasts till the end of February, and during the following summer months the country experiences heavy rainfall. The possibility of bad weather might make one debate weather to opt out for Myanmar in favour of another holiday destination. Despite the risk we decided to go through with our September trip, and enjoyed a fantastic 10-day stay in the country. Below I have made a short summary of some of the positive and negative sides of visiting Myanmar in September.

-Rain and cloudy weather
Of course you will experience more rain than during the tourist season although the rainy season is coming to an end in late September/early October. At the same time the rain usually just lasts for a short period (sometimes not more than 30 minutes a day), so for most of your stay you will not be bothered by the rain. It also depends on where in the country you are, as the rainy season ends sooner in the southern areas of the country. During our 10 days travelling through Yangon, Inle and Bagan we only experienced a single day of rain lasting more than 30 minutes. We were lucky with the timing though, as most of the rain fell during the night.

-Fewer available activities
If your main purpose of visiting Myanmar is to go diving in the area around the Mergui Archipelago or see the balloons soaring peacefully over Bagan it is better to visit the country from October, as these activities do not run during the rainy season. The tourist season also has fewer festivals, as all the main events are held during the dry season. Of course it is a pity to loose out on this, but for most of us it’s not a big enough reason to stay away from Myanmar in September all together. Note that there still are a range of fun activities offered to tourists, I would for instance recommend doing the trekking tour from Kalaw to Inle Lake.
-Few tourists
As most people tend to travel to Myanmar during the recommended months you’ll have significantly more available space at major tourist destinations, for instance when seeing the sunrise from the Bagan pagodas where it can get extremely crowded during high-season. Fewer tourists again means that you can enjoy the following:

-Easy access to good accommodation
During the tourists season you would have to book your rooms a long time in advance to ensure a stay at your preferred hotel. For our September voyage, however, we often just booked the hotel a night at a time as we were traveling around. Even for our last night in Yangon we did the booking through Agoda after having arrived at Yangon International Airport from Bagan at 8 pm, and could get a cheap hotel within walking distance from the airport.

-Easy access to transportation
Same as with the hotels; it was really easy for us to book overnight busses a day in advance or even on the day of departure because of the lack of tourists.

-More opportunities to interact with locals
The locals are generally more likely to appreciate your presence during low season, as they have fewer opportunities to make sales or interact with tourists in general. When we went trekking to Inle Lake our guide told us that during high season the guides are often exhausted from doing the trek over and over again, and that at times it could make keeping a continuous conversation with the tourists during the trek tiring. This, in addition to the fact that the size of the trekking groups often are twice as big during high season, makes it clear that you can get more out of this type of encounters with the locals during the off-season. 

All in all we're very satisfied with having picked September for our trip to Myanmar, and we certainly would have made the same choice over again.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading and feel free to leave any thoughts or comments below.

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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