Bagan is the jewel in Myanmar’s pretty large crown. The one location that must be visited by any traveller who decides to venture into this historical country. Covering an area of 40 square miles, Bagan is dotted with over 2,000 pagodas that spread out as far as the eye can see.
With Bagan carrying so much cultural importance, most visitors chose to visit during the main tourist season from October to March. But here, we’re going to suggest an alternative.
Come to Bagan during the Rainy Season. Why? Well read on and we’ll tell you.
What is the Rainy Season?
First off, the Rainy Season in Myanmar starts in May and ends in October and it is known as one of Asia’s most fierce Monsoon periods. It is not unheard of for more then 2,500 millimetres of rain to fall in Yangon in less than 5 months. There are quite a few different words used to describe this period, from the Monsoon Season to the Green Season. All of them mean the same thing. Most tour operators will advise not to travel to Myanmar during this period.
How does this Affect Bagan?
What you might not know is that Bagan is located in the Dry Zone in Myanmar. This is an area in the centre of Myanmar and encompasses most of the Magway Region. It is an area of Myanmar that receives little rainfall throughout the year, with the land becoming arid and dry as a result.
What does this mean? It means that Bagan only receives around 700 millimetres of rain every year. And to put this in context, that’s less then Rome, a lot less then New York, and only slightly more then Paris receives in the same time period. So all those tour operators telling you that there’ll be too much rain during your trip are simply wrong.
Obviously it does rain occasionally during this time, but not nearly as much as you are being told. And when it does rain, often this will be a morning shower, leaving the afternoon for you to get out and explore.
The benefit of tourists staying away during this period is that those who do come to Bagan in the Rainy Season get to experience the pagodas with few other visitors around. That means your photos will be made up of only the landscape in front of you, and not crowds of other tourists getting off their bus.
There is a remarkable difference in visitor numbers in the Rainy Season compared to the rest of the year and this means you get a much more personal experience when visiting, receiving extra care by tour guides, and much more authenticity throughout your stay.
And what happens when there are fewer tourists? Well the hotel prices drop. And they drop a long way in Bagan.
Instead of staying in a 3* hotel in Bagan for $100, you can now stay in a 5* luxury hotel for the same price. Hotel prices are often halved during this period meaning that you get a lot more bang for your buck. Bagan Lodge for example can be booked for as little as $110 a night. That’s incredible value!
As we mentioned before, this season can also be referred to as the Green Season. That’s because instead of the landscape being arid and dusty, the trees, grass and flowers are now in full colour and reinvigorated by the occasional rain.
This makes for a totally difference experience in Bagan during the so called Rainy Season, with much more vibrancy and life all around you. This added colour also leads to more wildlife being present, and this is especially the case with the birds in Myanmar.
So, while the rest of Myanmar might get more then it’s fair share of rain from May to October, Bagan by contrast is a completely different kettle of fish. It’s possible to get an international flight into Mandalay and then easily make your way down to Bagan by car, domestic flight or even boat.
So what are you waiting for? Come and visit Bagan during this magical season.