13 Reasons Why Myanmar Is The Perfect Winter Escape
Warm, clear waters bathe the shores of the Mergui Archipelago in Myanmar | © Ethan Daniels / Shutterstock
Add basking on beautiful beaches, exploring ancient caves, sipping in stunning scenes, and hiking through Myanmar’s magical highlands to your holiday wish list. The cold season is the best time to go to, particularly for travelers seeking warmth. Here are 13 reasons why running off to Myanmar in winter is a good idea.
The most comfortable time of year to visit Myanmar is the winter season. Average temperatures from November to February remain around 70-75°F (21-24°C) during the day depending on the region. The most popular destinations get quite crowded for this very reason though. Exploring Myanmar when it isn’t scorching hot or all soggy and wet makes winter the prime traveling time.
Overlooking mountains on the way to Taunggyi in Shan State | © Chase Chisholm
Budget excursions. Luxurious resorts. Untouched sands. The well kept beaches in Myanmar offer something for everyone, and the must-go time is during the winter months as Myanmar’s coastlines feel tropical temps year-round.
Sunset at Ngwe Saung Beach, Myanmar | © Chase Chisholm
Freezing at home? A trip to the Shwedagon Pagoda warms the spirit (and the toes)
No trip to Myanmar would be complete without stopping by the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Unrivaled in sheer awesomeness, the Shwedagon easily sees tens of thousands of visitors each month. Head there in the afternoon when Myanmar’s intense sun makes the pavement almost too hot to walk on for a quieter, more intimate spiritual experience.
Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar
Looking up at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar | © Chase Chisholm | © Chase Chisholm
Referred to as one of the earth’s last great paradises, Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago is for the adventurer who fears missing out on discovering newness. Private, chartered sailboats provide lavish chances to get up close and personal with this unspoiled part of the world.
Horseshoe Island is one of an isolated 800 islands in the Mergi Archipelago of Myanmar | © Tawatchaiwanasri / Shutterstock
With almost half a million people, Hpa-An still maintains a small-town vibe. The capital city of Kayin (Karen) State is surrounded by dramatic, rugged landscape and some amazing caves. Saddan cave is breathtakingly beautiful. Located approximately 17 miles from Hpa-An, this cave is a hollow of wonderment and is famous for its Buddha wall carvings.
A gilded stupa erected in the heart of a natural cave in Hpa-An, Myanmar | © Em Campos / Shutterstock
Hsipaw in Shan State has landed a reputation for its hilly treks giving backpackers more of a genuine glimpse of rural Myanmar. It’s a relaxed, quiet city with a rich, cultural history. This gem beckons to be seen, and among its offerings are many hiking trails to help walk off that dreaded winter weight gain.
Hiking by Pan Kam Village near Hsipaw in Shan State, Myanmar | © Scott Biales / Shutterstock
Trade mulled wine for a glass of vino with a view at Inle Lake
Drink in a gorgeous view of Inle Lake in Shan State from atop Red Mountain Estate. Its vineyards and winery overlook the southern tip of the lake and areas surrounding Nyaung Shwe Township. It’s located approximately three miles outside of Nyaung Shwe. Rent a bike to get there and back. In case too much wine is consumed (if that’s even possible), walking back is always an option.
Red Mountain Estate Vineyards and Winery, Nyang Shwe, Myanmar, +95, 081-209366
Wine with view from Red Mountain Estate, Inle Lake | © Chase Chisholm
Droves of people pilgrimage to Kyaiktiyo Pagoda in Mon State every year. It’s one of Myanmar’s most visited attractions, primarily for religious purposes. The pagoda roosts above a huge golden rock, which seems to rebel against gravity in an unbelievable way. It should be noted that at this time only men are allowed to get near enough to this sizeable stone to touch it.
Myanmar's Golden Rock in Mon State | © Chase Chisholm
Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo) is a favored getaway for locals as well as expats in Myanmar. The former British hill station, located approximately 40 miles east of Mandalay, promises much, much cooler temperatures all year round. Enjoy scenic views, crisp starry nights, as well as colonial charm and a few of Myanmar’s most amazing waterfalls in the area. Go late in the season or in early spring to get the first pick of fresh strawberries served with cream.
A server carries a tray of fresh strawberries and cream in Pyin Oo Lwin | © Chase Chisholm
A sunset in Bagan is more fully appreciated during Myanmar’s colder months. Temperatures in the area drop to around 85°F (30°C) as opposed to 100°F (38°C) from March to May. The typically dry and dusty environment of Bagan also still clings to its greenness from the rainy season before things really start to heat up again in the summer months.
Temples of Bagan, Myanmar, at dusk | © Chase Chisholm
Myanmar is an established producer of renowned teas, and increased coffee production all across the country is really steaming things up for the local economy. If places like Inle Lake do happen to get more than chilly, a cup of hot Myanmar coffee or tea will do the trick. Average nighttime wintry temperatures in the region drop as low as 45°F (7°C) in December and January, but daytime temps remain warmly pleasant.
Sipping hot tea at Inle Lake, Myanmar | © Chase Chisholm
Celebrated on January 4 of every year, Independence Day festivities in Myanmar bring entire neighborhoods together from sun up to long after sundown. Sports are organized and played in the streets, large tables are set for communal meals, and stages are brought in for evening entertainment. What better way to cap off ringing in a new year?
Myanmar people gather together for a meal | © Chase Chisholm
Venturing to Myanmar at the beginning of the winter season gives the opportunity to score some unique handmade goods for Christmas gifts. Help support Burmese artisans by shopping at small, local markets as much as possible.
Traditional Burmese puppets for sale in Myanmar | © Chase Chisholm
On the whole, January is one of the best months to visit Myanmar as it provides all around ideal travel conditions. However, it’s also the busiest time of year for tourism. Book accommodation and excursions early to in order experience what makes Myanmar the perfect winter escape.