Index


Introduction



In Burma (or Myanmar), the climate is generally tropical, with a rainy season from mid-May to October due to the southwest monsoon, a cool and dry season from November to mid-February, and a hot pre-monsoon season from mid-February to the beginning or the middle of May.
In addition, there are mountainous areas, with a mild or cool climate, but also a portion of the Himalayan range in the far north, which is very cold, at least at high altitude.
The rains in the monsoon season are plentiful along the coast, and are usually abundant on the mountain slopes, while in the interior, the monsoon penetrates with more difficulty, so much so that some inland valleys and plains are almost arid.
The sun in Burma shines regularly in the dry season, while in the rainy season it is rarely seen.

Winter, from mid-November to mid-February, is relatively cool in the center-north, while it is hot in the south. The weather is mostly sunny and warm in the daytime, but sometimes, cool air masses from China may lower the night temperatures almost to the freezing point in the north, to about 5 °C (41 °F) in the center-north, to 8/10 °C (46/50 °F) in Yangon and on the north coast, and to 12/15 °C (54/59 °F) along the south coast.
In winter, the biggest differences are recorded: the average daily temperature in January is 18 °C (64 °F) in Myitkyina, 20 °C (68 °F) in Mandalay, 21.5 °C (71 °F) in Sittwe, which is located on the northern coast (overlooking the Bay of Bengal), 25 °C (77 °F) in Yangon, and 26 °C (79 °F) along the south coast. So, winter is hot and summer-like only from the area of Yangon (or Rangoon), the former capital, and the beaches of Chaungtha and Ngwesaung.

In the pre-monsoon period, from mid-February to the beginning or the middle of May, the weather remains sunny, but the temperature gradually rises, and in mountainous areas, there can be some atmospheric instability in the afternoon, with the first thunderstorms. It's the hottest time of the year throughout Burma, especially in valleys and inland plains, where the heat becomes unbearable, and locals eagerly await for the arrival of the monsoon. The temperature can reach 37/38 °C (99/100 °F) along the southern coast, 40 °C (104 °F) in Yangon, and up to 43/45 °C in Mandalay and inland areas. Typically, April is the hottest month, in addition to the first part of May, before the monsoon comes.
On the coasts (both the the north coast overlooking the Bay of Bengal and the south coast overlooking the Andaman Sea), it doesn't get that hot in the pre-monsoon season, both because of the thermal inertia of the sea and because the monsoon rains arrive earlier.

The monsoon season is less hot: the maximum temperature drops to around 28/29 °C (82/84 °F) on the coasts, to 30 °C (86 °F) in Yangon, and to 33/34 °C (91/93 °F) in Mandalay, but the heat is sultry and the sky is often cloudy. The monsoon arrives first on the southernmost coast of the Andaman Sea (see Tavoy, Kampong Ulu, Mergui Islands), around May 10-15, and it is very intense from the beginning, so much so that more than 400 millimeters (16 inches) of rain fall in this month. In Yangon, the monsoon arrives between May 20-25, in Mandalay (where, however, its effects are more limited) between May 25 and June 1, and finally, it arrives in the far north between the first and the 10th of June.
The rainiest months are almost everywhere June, July and August, and on the two coasts, being exposed to the west, the rains are plentiful; in fact, some areas receive more than 1,200 mm (47 in) of rain in a month! Yangon is a bit less rainy because it's located in the area of the mouths of the Irrawaddy River, which are exposed to the south, and receives about 500/600 mm (20/23.5 in) of rain per month during this period, while the central area where Mandalay is located receives only 100/150 mm (4/6 in) of rain per month.
In September, rainfall decreases a bit, except in the extreme south, while during the month of October, the monsoon withdraws, starting from the north; the monsoon is replaced by drier and gradually cooler winds, which blow from the north or northeast.
As mentioned, the monsoon particularly affects the coasts, which are exposed to the southwest winds. So, this is the wettest area of Burma, so much so that the amount of rainfall reaches 5,000 mm (195 in) in a year (or rather, in the rainy season, since in the rest of the year, the rains are very poor or absent here as well).
By contrast, in the central plains, precipitation drops below 900 mm (35.5 in) per year, as happens in Mandalay, Myngyan, Magway, and Bagan, the ancient capital of many Burmese kingdoms. At the foot of the mountains and on the slopes, the monsoon rains are instead plentiful, and during the wettest periods, there may be landslides and floods.

The mountains



Mountain areas of Burma

In the far north, we find a mountainous area, which is an offshoot of the Himalayas, where there are perennial snows above 4,500 meters (15,000 ft). The highest mountain is Hkakabo Razi, 5,881 meters (19,295 feet) high. On the southern side, at the foot of the mountains, the rains are abundant, in fact, they exceed 3,000 millimeters (118 inches) per year. However, there are heavy rainfalls from May to October, while the rest of the year is dry.

More to the south, to the west and the east of the plain, we find two mountain ranges (the Arakan Mountains and the Shan Plateau), which have a mild climate. In the monsoon season, the rains are abundant in the western range, at times torrential, while they are moderate in the eastern range, around 1,500 mm (60 in) per year. In winter, nights are cold.

Taunggyi

Here are the average temperatures of Taunggyi, located in the eastern range, at 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) above sea level.
Taunggyi - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)8101316171818181716139
Max (°C)232528292725242425252423
Min (°F)465055616364646463615548
Max (°F)737782848177757577777573

In Taunggyii, 1,500 mm (60 in) of rain fall per year, with a rainy season from May to October, and a dry season from November to April.
Taunggyi - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)01003024019028033021017030101500
Prec.(in)00.401.29.47.511138.36.71.20.459.1
Days0002512151611104176

Inland areas



Inland areas

In the inland plain, the climate is tropical in the central-southern part, and subtropical in the northernmost part. In the monsoon season, the rains are heavy but not exceptional.

Myitkyina

In Myitkyina, located in the north, in the Kachin State, winter is quite cool, at least at night. In addition, on average, the period from March to May is not as hot as in the center-south, although the temperature can at times reach 38-40 °C (100-104 °F).
Myitkyina - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)101316202224242524221612
Max (°C)252830333332303232312826
Min (°F)505561687275757775726154
Max (°F)778286919190869090888279

In Myitkyina, rainfall amounts to 2,100 mm (83 in) per year. The rains are very abundant from June to August.
Myitkyina - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)1020204016048047043025018030102100
Prec.(in)0.40.80.81.66.318.918.516.99.87.11.20.482.7
Days0123520201912104197

Mandalay

The central part is quite sheltered from the monsoon, so it is almost barren. Furthermore, this area is warmer than the north in winter and becomes very hot in the pre-monsoon season.
Here are the average temperatures in Mandalay.
Mandalay - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)131520242626262525241915
Max (°C)293236383734343233323028
Min (°F)555968757979797777756659
Max (°F)8490971009993939091908682

In Mandalay, precipitation amounts to only 850 mm (33 in) per year. Here is the average precipitation.
Mandalay - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)4314014011585135150125406840
Prec.(in)0.20.101.65.54.53.35.35.94.91.60.233.1
Days00038769873153

In the Mandalay area, where the monsoon penetrates with more difficulty, even in the rainy season, the sun shines on average for a few hours a day.
Mandalay - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours1010101097657799

Bagan is located in the area with a relatively dry climate

The new capital, Naypyidaw (or Pyinmana), is located halfway between Mandalay and Yangon. Here, the temperatures are similar to those of Mandalay, although they decrease more in summer, and drop to 30-32 °C (86-90 °F), since the monsoon has greater effects. Rainfall amounts to 1,450 mm (55 in) per year.

The coast



Coastal areas

Along the coasts of Burma, the climate is warm all year round, though in the northern part overlooking the Bay of Bengal, it can be a bit cool on winter nights, and sometimes even a bit cold. As mentioned, the summer rains are definitely heavy.

Sittwe

Here are the average temperatures of Sittwe (formerly Akyab), located in the northern part of the coast, in the Rakhine State.
Sittwe - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)151720242525242424242117
Max (°C)283032333230292930313129
Min (°F)596368757777757575757063
Max (°F)828690919086848486888884

Here is the average precipitation in Sittwe. From June to August, up to one meter (3.3 feet) of rain falls per month.
Sittwe - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)1010545270109011551025535290105154555
Prec.(in)0.40.40.21.810.642.945.540.421.111.44.10.6179.3
Days000313232525181040121

Along the northern coast of Burma, the sea is warm enough to swim in all year round, in fact, it doesn't drop below 25 °C (77 °F) in January and February. In winter, however, as mentioned, the coast of the Bay of Bengal can sometimes be affected by cool air masses, which can lower a bit the air temperature.
Here are the average sea temperatures in Sittwe.
Sittwe - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)252527293030292929292826
Temp (°F)777781848686848484848279

Yangon

More to the south, Yangon is not exactly on the coast, but is located about 40 km (25 miles) away from the coast, in a plain that can become really hot in the period before the monsoon.
Yangon - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)181922242525242424242219
Max (°C)323536373330303030323232
Min (°F)646672757777757575757266
Max (°F)909597999186868686909090

In Yangon, the rains are not as abundant as on the coast directly exposed to the west, but they still exceed 500 mm (20 in) per month from June to August. Here is the average precipitation in Yangon.
Yangon - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)527153005455606003702056072681
Prec.(in)0.20.10.30.611.821.52223.614.68.12.40.3105.6
Days000213252626201250129

Here are the average daily sunshine hours in Yangon. As you can see, the dry season from November to April is sunny, while the sun rarely shines from June to September.
Yangon - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours101091063233799

Mergui Islands

In the southern part of the coast, in the Tanintharyi region, it's hot even in winter. Here, we find the Mergui Islands (or Pashu).
Here are the temperatures of Myeik (formerly Mergui), the largest city of the area.
Myeik - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min (°C)202122232323222222222120
Max (°C)303132323129282828303030
Min (°F)687072737373727272727068
Max (°F)868890908884828282868686

In the southernmost part of the coast, the rains are abundant; moreover, the rainy season is a little longer, and as you can see, a few abundant downpours occur already in April.
Myeik - Average precipitation
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)20507012042076083076063030090204070
Prec.(in)0.822.84.716.529.932.729.924.811.83.50.8160.2
Days135618252626231662157

On the southern coast, overlooking the Andaman Sea, the sea in winter is warmer than in the northern part, in fact, the water temperature doesn't drop below 28 °C (82 °F), so it's pleasantly warm all year round.

Mergui Islands

To the north of the Andaman Islands, belonging to India, we find the Coco Islands, a small archipelago where the climate is similar to that of the Mergui islands.

Tropical cyclones



Burma can be hit by tropical cyclones, usually from mid-April to early December. In general, they are most intense both at the beginning and the end of the period, that is, in May-June and October-November. The cyclones that form in the Indian Ocean and could hit the coasts of Burma directly from the south-west are more dangerous, although they generally follow a more northern trajectory, directly affecting Bangladesh. The area most at risk is the coastal one, which includes Yangon and the Irrawaddy Delta, as we saw in May 2008 with the terrible cyclone Nargis.
The cyclones that form in the Pacific Ocean and come from the east are called typhoons, and before reaching Burma, they lose most of the energy over the countries most directly exposed, mainly Vietnam; therefore, they are less dangerous for Burma.

Best Time



The best time to visit Burma runs from mid-December to mid-February: the weather is dry and sunny, and the risk of cyclones should have ceased. It's hot in Yangon and along the southern coast, while it can get cool at night or even cold in inland areas. By the second half of February, and even more in March and April, it's definitely hot, but along the coast, you can enjoy the breeze and you can still swim and sunbathe, since the weather stays good.
If you want to travel in the rainy season, for example in July and August, you will prefer the central plains (see Mandalay, Myngyan, Magway) because they are more sheltered from the monsoon. In contrast, in summer, the coasts are definitely inadvisable because they receive heavy rains.

What to pack



In winter: in the north (see Myitkyina, Mandalay), and in cities located at middle or low-mountain altitudes (Taunggyi, Kengtung), bring spring/autumn clothes (light for the day), a jacket and a sweater for the evening, and a hat and a scarf for cooler evenings. Along the coast, bring light clothing, a light sweatshirt for the evening, and a scarf for the breeze; in the northern part of the coast, up to Yangon, you can add a light jacket or a sweater for cooler evenings. In the Himalayas, bring mountain clothing, and hiking boots.

In summer, bring lightweight clothing of natural fibers, a light raincoat or umbrella, and comfortable shoes. You can add a light sweater for the evening at low-mountain altitudes; in the Himalayas, bring warm clothes, a raincoat, and hiking boots.

Before entering pagodas, it is customary to take off shoes, dress neatly and cover a little.
It's better for women to avoid shorts and miniskirts.