AT A GLANCE
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +7
Country Code: +95
Voltage Requirements: 220V
Capital: Nay Pyi Taw
Population: 55.7 million
Official Language: Burmese
When To Go
HIGH SEASON: Dec-Feb | SHOULDER: Oct-Nov, Mar-Apr | LOW SEASON: May-Sep
Weather: Each season seems to have its pros and cons. The rainy (monsoon) season lasts mid-May to October. Rain gear is essential during this period, but a visitor will not necessarily find monsoon conditions. We visited one September and were only rained on twice (mostly it was hot, humid and overcast but bearable). As a rule, the central part of the country is drier than the coast. The weather is best October-February, with daytime temperatures in the 70s-80s F/20-30 C, but the number of tourists in those months leads to the overcrowding of transportation and accommodations. March-May can be very, very hot, with temperatures exceeding 100 F/37 C in Bagan. We suggest travelers during this period escape to the higher elevations of Shan state.
Holidays: Over 85% of the Burmese population is Buddhist, so most of the holidays are religious based. The biggest celebration is Thingyan, or the Buddhist New Year, which occurs in mid-April and lasts for several days. Almost all restaurants and businesses are closed during this period, but it does not have a big effect on travel plans.
Several airlines serve Yangon's International Airport (RGN), located 9.3 mi/15 km north of downtown. The airport's golden facade is designed to evoke the region's temple architecture, but the interior seems mired in the past, as well. Though not difficult to navigate, the airport doesn't offer much in the way of modern amenities or conveniences. Phone 951-533-031. http://www.ygnia.com.Anyone traveling in Myanmar must be tolerant of some discomfort and must be especially prepared to encounter any number of transportation delays, including canceled flights, broken-down buses and inexplicable stops on trains. All this can be frustrating if you're on a tight schedule.
To reach Inle Lake by air, fly to the town of Heho. We highly recommend that first-time visitors take an escorted tour unless they are experienced with developing countries. Travel by car or train is possible but uncomfortable (trains tend to be antiquated and stop inexplicably). Public transportation in Yangon and Mandalay is inadequate, unsafe and overcrowded (taxis are available).
Before You Go
Passport / Visa Requirements: Citizens of Canada and the U.S. need passports and visas. Visas can be obtained on arrival at the international airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap or at some border crossings from Thailand. A visa costs US$20. A passport-size photograph is also required. A yellow-fever certificate is required if you're arriving from an infected area. A departure tax of US$25 must be paid in cash at the airport when leaving the country. Reconfirm travel document requirements with your carrier before departure.