Enigmatic and enchanting, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is often referred to as the Golden Land. Myanmar’s long-term isolation has bequeathed a corner of Southeast Asia full of traditional culture, spirituality and old-world charm. A visit to Myanmar is like turning back the clock. Phone and internet connections can be erratic in areas so you may peacefully experience a culture which emphasises spirituality and reveres monks and holy men.
In 2015, Myanmar voted in its first democratically elected government in more than half a century. Sanctions have been dropped and the world is rushing to do business here. Relaxing of censorship has led to an explosion of new media and an astonishing openness in public discussions of once-taboo topics. Swathes of the county, off-limits for years, can now be freely visited. Modern travel conveniences, such as mobile phone coverage and internet access, are now common, but largely confined to the big cities and towns, where the recent economic and social improvements are most obvious.
For all the momentous recent changes, Myanmar remains at heart a rural nation of traditional values. Everywhere, you'll encounter men wearing skirt-like longyi, both genders smothered in thanakha (traditional make-up) and betel-chewing grannies with mouths full of blood-red juice. People still get around in trishaws and, in rural areas, horse and cart. Drinking tea – a British colonial affectation – is enthusiastically embraced in thousands of traditional teahouses.
The monsoon weather patterns of Southeast Asia bring with it a distinct dry season which is typically split between a cool season from November to January/February and a hot season from March to May. After the scorching heat of the hot season monsoon rains bring a distinctly rainy season which lasts from June to October. The central region, which is protected by the Arakan mountain range, experiences significantly less rain than other regions of the country
The cool season weather in Myanmar brings with it humid warm days with cool refreshing evenings. It rarely rains during the cool season and the weather can get quite chilly in the mountainous areas, sometimes close to freezing at night. The hot season brings with it high tropical temperatures that reach their peak in April and May. Myanmar’s central region experiences the highest temperatures in the country during this time. The rainy season brings much needed relief to the country with tropical heavy rain showers in the afternoons. The most rain occurs in the delta and coastal areas of the country. The central region of the country usually experiences about half as much rain as the delta and coastal areas. The north of the country is cooler in the hot season; however it receives more rain than the central areas in the rainy season.