15 reasons to visit Myanmar during the ‘green season’
It’s no secret, most people looking to visit to Myanmar will travel between the months of October and March (with the months of January and February being the most popular). This will provide optimum climate conditions, especially when it comes to clear skies, dry weather and low humidity levels.
Tour Mandalay would now like to deal a wild card – how about travelling during the months of May, June or July? We know what you’re thinking… “But there will be lots of rain and horribly humid conditions!” Well, this might be so in some destinations, but please take a moment to hear us out. Here are 15 reasons (in no particular order!) to visit our Golden Land out of season.
The following images were all taken during the months of May and June 2015.
1) A combination of sun and rain make for idyllic growing conditions for wild flowers and other varieties of rare flora. There is an obvious abundance during this time of year, with Pyin Oo Lwin’s botanic garden looking particularly spectacular. At the nearby Candacraig Hotel, Tour Mandalay also stumbled across an orchard carpeted with pink wild flowers. Perhaps we should start working on an adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ‘The Secret Garden’?
2) The trees also look spectacular during this time with many showing signs of colorful bloom. Within weeks, the flame trees pictured below, will be sure to illuminate Pyin Oo Lwin’s roads in a gorgeous fiery red.
3) As the country’s rivers slowly replenish, waterfalls everywhere start to gush down with full force. Unfortunately the photograph below doesn’t do it justice, but the view of Dat Taw Gyaint waterfall from the recently opened The View Restaurant (in-between Mandalay and Pyin oo Lwin) was breathtaking.
4) It’s always nice to be treated like royalty. Well, visiting during this time will see you receive this kind of treatment more often than not. During the months of October to March, a foreign face becomes a familiar sight and the whole process of greeting and putting on a show, understandably becomes a lot less personal. During the ‘green season’ this is not the case. Most of the people we crossed paths with were overjoyed to have us in their presence and they took lots of time to show off and explain their specialised craft. Take this lady from Yandabo for example – a village famous for its traditional pottery making technique – by the time we left, she came close to moulding a dozen clay pots. Her family was also keen to treat us to dinner, but alas, Tour Mandalay had already made alternate arrangements.
5) Photographers will be pleased to know that people are more willing to pose for photographs. We guess this links into point 4, but due to the large number of tourists that travel during the high season, some locals will inevitably become ‘snapped out’. During this time of year, and as long as your ask for their permission, most Myanmar people will be happy to stand in front of your camera and pose confidently for a shot. In fact, the monk in the photograph below put on his best robe especially for the occasion. For a 99-year old he was in incredible shape.
6) In Bagan and Mandalay the climate conditions are often hot and very dry. Whilst this isn’t ideal, it does lead to a lot of clear sky sunsets. The photograph below, of a lady sieving through sesame seeds, was taken close to Bagan on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy.
7) Due to the intense dry heat, it is no wonder why water buffalos are keen to bathe in the Irrawaddy at the end of a hard days work. Although it is possible to view this spectacle all year round, it’s a lot more memorable when it’s just you.
8) Keen to make friends? A short walk along one of Mandalay’s 2km long palace walls in the evening will provide plenty of opportunity for human interaction. Due to the limited number of tourists present, the locals are even more keen to have a chinwag about life and tell tales of the ancient capital.
9) It is hard to describe what it feels like to witness a sunset from the top of a pagoda in Bagan (without any other tourists). We guess you will have to come and experience it for yourself.
10) During this time of year there’s a noticeable increase in agricultural activity, with many farmers choosing to plough their fields or prepare their terraces before the heavens really start to open. The photograph below was taken on an enjoyable morning trek through the surrounding fields of Kalaw.
11) The more popular trekking routes are usually free from other tourists, leaving you free to appreciate the country’s jaw-dropping natural surroundings in complete solitude. The photo below was taken on the trek down to the must-see Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp.
12) Ever wanted to get up close and personal with an elephant? A visit to Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp during this time of year will pretty much guarantee this, seeing as very few tourists make it here and the elephants are keen to get their eat on. Due to the distinct lack of man-power, Tour Mandalay were required to spend close to 45 minutes feeding the camp’s seven hungry elephants. With a full group, this experience will inevitably finish a lot sooner. We also got the chance to ride on the elephant’s back, which is something Green Hill Valley only permit when group numbers are small.
13) The terraced scenery in Khiangtong starts to fill up with water during this time, making for some great scenic shots. The trekking isn’t too bad either!
14) Inle Lake looks spectacular during this time of year and due ever changing weather conditions, your eyes will be treated to some stunning natural scenery. The photograph below doesn’t do it justice, but this view from Novotel Inle felt like we were looking out onto a live water colour painting. The area is also a lot quieter, with notably fewer motor boats operating.
15) Whilst Tour Mandalay cannot guarantee this, most hotels operate at extremely low capacity during this time of year and are therefore more likely to offer complimentary upgrades. Novotel Inle Lake for example upgraded our Junior Suite (the lead-in room type) to one of their spacious villas. Even if you miss out on this, it’s not the end of the world as most rooms are sold at a massively reduced price.
Well that pretty much concludes our 15 points.
Whilst travelling during Myanmar’s low season of course comes with its disadvantages, Tour Mandalay like to think that there’s a lot more on offer than meets the eye.