YANGON — Do you enjoy traveling around Myanmar during the rainy season (or the “green season”, as I prefer to call it)? So do I. It’s a fabulous time to hit the road and offers a whole a new travel experience.
As you probably know, Myanmar has three distinct seasons: hot, rainy and cool. The “green season” lasts roughly from May until September. The term “rainy season” is something of a misnomer. On a typical day in certain tourist centers like Bagan, Inle Lake, Kalay, Mandalay and northern Shan State, the chance of rainfall during the season is usually only about 25 percent.
Most people avoid traveling during the rainy season, because they worry that they’ll get soaked the minute they step outside, or believe it’s dangerous; but my experience has been the exact opposite.
The main benefit of traveling at this time of year is that tourist numbers are down; you can enjoy the wonderful scenery without all the unwanted crowding and noise.
The weather is neither too hot nor too cold, and your surroundings are entirely green; you can walk around emerald paddy fields between tree-lined hills; the landscapes are simply breathtaking at this time of year.
Another advantage is that hotels are cheap at this time of year, and cheaper flights are often available. What’s more, some fruits and vegetables are freshest during the green season.
So, here is my list of recommended green season travel destinations.
This ancient city in Mandalay Region is the heart of Myanmar. The historic capital city during the era of the Bagan Kingdom, it is covered with over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries.
For most of the year, the weather in Bagan is sunny, hot and dusty. But in the green season, the dust is washed away. The area’s wonderful scenery takes on a different aspect, and a fresh scent fills the air after the rain showers cease.
Nearly every hotel offers a special discount during the green season; check websites and Facebook pages and don’t forget to book.
You can travel to Bagan from Yangon by bus, car or train. Numerous bus lines including Bagan Min Thar and Famous run every day. A round-trip ticket costs about USD30.
Pyin Oo Lwin
Pyin Oo Lwin is a hill city located near Mandalay. Also known as May Myoe, the weather in this city is perfect for growing flowers; the city is covered in beautiful blooms and trees.
Among the city’s attractions are its colonial-era buildings and train station. The place is always cool and makes a perfect escape from the fearsome heat of Mandalay and lower Myanmar.
The town’s botanical gardens located in National Kandawgyi Park are the biggest in Myanmar, and very popular. Pyin Oo Lwin also boasts many waterfalls including the BE Waterfalls, Dat Taw Chaint Waterfalls, and the Peik Chin Myaung Waterfalls and Cave.
Pyin Oo Lwin can be reached from Yangon by road or rail. There are many bus lines operating; by car the trip takes about eight hours.
Inle Lake is located in the middle of Myanmar, about 650km from Yangon. Though the lake is surrounded by mountains, temperatures are high during the hot season, so the cool and green seasons are the best times to visit.
Inle Lake can be reached by private car, bus or train; choose the option that’s best for you. If you go by bus, it’ll cost you around USD18 for a round-trip ticket from Yangon. The journey is about 10 hours. The road is good but the route is winding.
I recommend these express bus lines: JJ, Elite, Shwe Mandalar and Lumbini Express. If you choose to fly, there are daily flights from Yangon to Heho. You can’t fly directly to Inle Lake, so take a taxi from Heho airport to Nyaung Shwe. Some hotels provide a free ferry service for guests; check with your hotel first.
Kalaw is a hill town near Inle Lake. You’ll pass through it when you go to Inle Lake. It is known for its cool weather and is also famous for its well preserved colonial buildings. Trekking in the Kalaw Hills is a popular pastime but you should take special care when doing this during the green season.
The local market is the heart of the town — and heaven for food explorers. You can find fresh, tasty and authentic Shan dishes served throughout the area.
Kalaw is best reached by bus. From Yangon, round-trip tickets cost around USD18 and the trip takes about eight hours.
So, what are you waiting for? Book yourself a discounted hotel room and start making plans to explore Myanmar at its greenest.