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Destinations Asia Holidays & Tours Holidays to Burma (Myanmar)

Holidays to Burma (Myanmar)

Burma, now officially known as Myanmar, is a country very much in transition. It is emerging from decades of isolation, unforgiving military rule and savage corruption, and with Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy now at the helm, Burma is slowly embracing democracy and redefining its national identity. But things here move at a snail’s pace – development is slow, and the politics of many ethnic tribal regions is complicated. A tour to Burma now offers an authentic insight into the South-East Asia of old, a far-cry from the bright neon lights and 7-Elevens of Bangkok.

Described by many of its visitors as ‘like Thailand 30 years ago’, a holiday to Myanmar is a true adventure travel experience. Although Burma has been open to tourists now for several years, tourism is still very much in its infancy here compared to its more popular neighbours, meaning you just have to step away from Myanmar’s main sights to witness daily local life, uninterrupted by other tourists. Visitors to Myanmar are still a novelty to most Burmese people, and warm welcomes and friendly conversations with locals can be enjoyed almost around every corner.
Burma's stand-out highlight is the temples of Bagan. Over 1000 pagodas and stupas are dotted along the wide open plains, stretching out as far as the eye can see. Explore’s tours to Bagan showcase the best temples and uncover the history behind this fascinating region, with the help of our expert Explore Leaders.

Visiting Inle Lake should not be missed on any holiday to Burma. A cruise along the waters of Inle by longtail boat uncovers small stilted villages and traditional industries such as weaving, cigar rolling and boat building, all still painstakingly done by hand. The region is also made iconic by its fishermen and their curious technique of one-legged rowing, leaving their hands free to catch fish using their own unique conical fishing nets.
Other places of interest include the Golden Rock at Kyaiktiyo, Rudyard Kipling’s Mandalay, the white sands of Ngapali Beach, and in the south lie faded colonial towns and the undiscovered Mergui Archipelago.

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Holidays to Burma (Myanmar)

Whilst Myanmar has many wonderful and interesting places to visit, outlined below are some of its stand-out highlights:

Inle Lake

Located high up on the Shan Plateau, Inle Lake is a place where tradition takes precedent; from the ethnic tribes proudly wearing the national dress, to the boat-building and weaving industries all done by hand. Here you can take boat cruise on Inle Lake, discovering these traditional industries, visiting local markets and dining on freshly-caught fish served up on a banana leaf.

Bagan

It is estimated that Bagan has more than double the amount of temples found in the vast Temple Complex of Angkor, which provides some perspective into just how impressive Bagan is. The temple-lined plains stretch out for miles into the horizon, and an Explore tour to Bagan brings these temples to life, uncovering the most beautiful examples with the help of our expert local leaders.

Mandalay

It may be Myanmar’s second largest city after Rangoon, but Mandalay in Upper Burma feels more like a big rural town. A tour to Mandalay encompasses the surrounding ancient kingdoms of Inwa and Amarapura with their spectacular pagodas and temples. The highlight for many is visiting U-Bein bridge at sunset. This 1.2 kilometre bridge was built in 1850 entirely from teak and is believed to the oldest of its kind in the world.

Mergui Archipelago

The Mergui Archipelago comprises of some 800 idyllic tropical islands, most of which are completely uninhabited. Infact there is just one hotel in the entire archipelago, with very few tourists making it this far south. Those that do gain a true adventure travel experience, and on our explore tour of Southern Burma we spend three days camping on the beach, discovering unexplored islands and snorkeling pristine coral reefs.

Whilst it is possible to travel on a tour to Burma at any time of the year, it’s important to know that there are three distinct seasons in this part of the world: The dry, hot and wet season. Travelling during each season has its own advantages and disadvantages, as outlined below:

Dry Season

The dry season in Myanmar runs from November to February, and is generally considered the best time to travel. Rainfall during these months is low, and temperatures are generally at their coolest, averaging between 23-27 degrees Celsius. At higher altitudes on the Shan Plateau and in Inle Lake, temperatures can drop at night and early mornings, so a fleece or light jacket is recommended at this time of year. Because of the optimal temperatures, most people consider this the best time for a holiday to Burma, so you will share Myanmar with the highest number of tourists at this time of year.

Hot Season

The months of March and April make up Myanmar’s short hot season, where temperatures can reach in excess of 40 degrees centigrade. Whilst the plains are very hot, the higher altitudes experience more comfortable temperatures, and it is also the time of lowest rainfall. Naturally, travelling at this time of year you will see fewer tourists, and Explore tours will be adapted to start earlier and break for a long lunch to avoid the heat of midday.

Wet Season

The Southwest Monsoon hits Myanmar in late May and runs through to October. During the wet season rain is expected to fall on a daily basis, and whilst the rainfall is very heavy it usually only lasts for 1-2 hours of the day. A trip to Burma at this time of the year is possible, but a level of flexibility is required to tweak the itinerary to avoid the worst of the showers. With an open mind however, you can experience Myanmar with few other tourists, and at its greenest and most lush.

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