If you’re planning a trip to Laos and Burma, read this guide to find out how the seasons might affect your travel plans
Overview: Best time to visit Burma & Laos
Whether you’re planning to relax on the beaches of Burma, don your walking boots for a mountain trek or take in the cultural sights of Vientiane - or all of the above - you won’t be short of things to do on a trip to Burma and Laos. This guide is here to help you make the most of your travel experience by giving you the information you need to pick the right time of year to embark on your journey.
Map: When is the best time to visit Laos & Burma
Laos and Burma’s Seasons
Both Laos and Burma can be visited at any time of year, but it’s worth bearing in mind that these two countries experience a monsoonal climate. This means that there are two main seasons, rainy and dry; a third, the hot season, can also be identified.
- October to February: Dry Season brings cooler temperatures and little rainfall
- March to May: temperatures rise significantly, making it uncomfortably hot and humid
- April: New Year celebrations see water being thrown in the streets
- June to October: afternoon showers do little to spoil generally sunny days during this quieter season
- September/October: the time to head to Luang Prabang if you enjoy the spectacle of dragon boat racing
Dry Season - October to February
Dry season is the best time to visit Burma’s beaches at Ngapali, as many resorts close during the heavy monsoon.It probably won’t come as a surprise that Dry Season in Laos and Burma corresponds with high season. As the name suggests, this is when there’s least rainfall, but it’s also an appealing time to travel because temperatures are cooler and more comfortable. There will be more tourists around if you travel in Dry Season, and hotel rooms will therefore be more expensive. Dry Season is definitely the time to go to Burma’s beach resorts, which tend to close in the rainy season.
In Mandalay, Burma’s capital, average maximum temperatures from October to February are between 28°C (82°F) and 32°C (90°F), though it may fall to 14°C (57°F) at night between December and February. It’s a similar picture in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, where temperatures range from 17°C (63°F) to around 30°C (86°F).
Hot season - March to May
Inle Lake in Burma can be a cool respite during the hot season.
The temperature rises significantly during the hot season, and can reach 38°C (100°F) in Laos. If you’re thinking of touring the temples of Bagan in Burma during hot season, bear in mind that you could be in for an even hotter experience, as temperatures there sometimes get as high as 40°C (104°F). Yangon is at its most sweltering in March and April, but if you do plan your trip for the hot season, you might find some respite from the soaring temperatures by heading north to Inle Lake, where it stays a bit cooler during these hottest months. April sees New Year celebrations breaking out onto the streets of towns and cities across Laos and Burma, marked by the tradition of water throwing.
Rainy Season - June to September/October
Storm clouds gather over the might Mekong River.
The Rainy Season - sometimes called Monsoon Season - is when Burma and Laos see the greatest rainfall, but you might be surprised to learn that the weather isn’t as bad as you might think. It doesn’t rain constantly; instead, there are afternoon showers that can prove quite refreshing. Sometimes it might not rain at all; in Burma’s capital, Yangon, for instance, even the wettest months only average nine days of rainfall.
Another name for the Rainy Season is ‘Green Season’, which refers to the vibrant greenery of the vegetation at this time of year - especially the rice paddies. What’s more, fewer people travel at this time of year, so you can enjoy atmospheric places such as Bagan and Luang Prabang with fewer people around (though expect more people in Luang Prabang in September or October, when dragon boat racing takes place on the Nam Khan river). And, of course, you’ll pay less for hotel rooms during Rainy Season.
A note of caution: though there are many advantages to travelling in Rainy Season, it may not be the best time to go if you’re planning adventures among the limestone karsts of Vang Vieng in Laos, where the Nam Song River flows much faster than normal. Footpaths may well be slippery too - also a hazard if you’re thinking of trekking the mountain areas of Kalaw and Pindaya in Burma.
Planning a trip to Laos & Burma? Find out about our multi-country small group tours to Burma.