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One week in Burma

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If you are, like many of us, the kind of paradoxical tourist who doesn’t like tourists, then Burma is the place for you. With its complex political history, Burma (also known as Myanmar) has only recently opened its doors to tourism. The country has now become a magnet for tourists seeking authenticity and adventure, and travelling here means exploring a country where the 21st century has barely intruded and traditional ways of life are still upheld. There is still a strong sense of the old Orient in this magical Buddhist country, where pious monks are more revered than rock stars.

Best things to see and do for one week in Burma

What to see in one week

7 days can seem like no time at all when you’re travelling, especially when you’re in the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, and so here are some suggestions of things to see to make the most of your week in Burma. As a Buddhist country, there is no shortage of amazing temples and crumbling colonial architecture.

Although not recommended on many travel blogs, Naypyidaw, now Burma’s capital, is located right in the heart of the country. Built to usher in a new chapter of economic prosperity and influx of tourists, somewhat prematurely, the city is now known for its ghost-town-like, post-apocalyptic eeriness and looks and feels like a film set with its 20 lane motorways and empty hotels. If the world’s most unusual capital city peaks your interest, then stop in on your way north between Yangon, the former capital and the Inle Lakes, a must see for tourists. Further north, the ancient city of Bagan is known for its golden stupas scattered across the plains. Nearby is the relatively new city of Mandalay, which is a busting cultural centre with a thriving tea-house culture that offers the chance for visitors to mingle with the exceptionally friendly locals. If off the grid is your goal, then head to Monywa. Here you can find some of Burma’s most unusual sites and cave temples; well worth a visit if you’re travelling between the more popular destinations of Mandalay and Bagan. Don’t forget to stop into Shwe Ba Taung, a labyrinthine temple, carved straight from the rock which is often overlooked by many visitors.

What to do in one week

If you’re into trekking, head to Kalaw, which sits atop the misty blue mountains of Burma's Shan State through the country’s most picturesque region. The trekking may be hard, but the rewards, be it the landscape or quaint village life, are more than sufficient. Wander through the markets and rambling streets of the little town of Kawthaung, or sample some of the wonderful street food that the northern city of Mandalay has to offer. The Mergui Archipelago, made up of some 800 small islands, offers spectacular beach and island exploration, although exploring by boat from Myeik is limited, for the time being. Don’t forget to get up early at least once and enjoy sunrise from the upper level of one of Bagan’s pagodas. If your one week in Burma coincides with a full moon, there are often street parades and festivities in monasteries which could be an incredible addition to an unforgettable 7 days.

Best time to travel to Burma for a week

It is important that you plan when to go carefully, bearing in mind where your itinerary takes you, and the kind of things you will be doing during your one week in Myanmar. Although Myanmar (much like its neighbours, Thailand and Cambodia) has two very distinct dry and wet seasons, you can actually visit the country all year round. The monsoon rains start in late may and continue all the way through until October, although the wettest month by far is August. At the peak of the wet season some areas become inaccessible and some coastal areas are even closed off all together. Meanwhile, during the hot months, some areas of central Myanmar become extremely humid. The absolute best time to visit is during the dry months between November and February, but a trip during the “green season”- the months either side of these high seasons dates - could reward those tourists who are hoping to explore in more solitude. Bear altitude in mind when planning a trip, as temperatures can still fall quite low at night in the hills, even during the hot months.

When to go in Burma?

The best time to visit Burma is between December and March: there is no rain and it doesn't get too hot at this time of year. The southwestern monsoon season begins between May and June and lasts until October. From March to May, the heat is practically unbearable. On the other hand, this is a good time of year to enjoy the mountains, where the climate is much cooler. The best time to explore this extraordinary country and its absolutely fascinating sites, therefore, is during the winter months. You are certain to find Burma a charming place, but avoid the really hot months.
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