Find out when to plan your trip to best enjoy the glittering pagodas and colonial architecture of Yangon
Yangon - previously known as Rangoon - was the capital of Burma until 2006. It’s a place where the fading grandeur of British colonial architecture sits alongside gleaming sacred pagodas; where you’ll spot locals chewing betel nuts and wandering barefoot; and where you’ll brush shoulders with purple-robed monks as you walk the busy streets in search of Yangon’s many cultural gems. Make the most of your visit by travelling at the right time of year so that you can enjoy in comfort everything this fantastic city has to offer.
Yangon has a tropical monsoonal climate, which means that it’s hot and humid all year round. Like other Southeast Asian countries, it has a rainy and dry season, but its dry season is split into a period of cooler weather and a prolonged spell of very hot weather.
- November to February: Yangon’s ‘winter’, when temperatures are a comfortable 19 to 33°C (66 to 91°F)
- February or March: the Shwedagon Festival celebrates the city’s most famous pagoda
- March to May: dry season brings oppressive temperatures that can reach 40°C (104°F)
- June to October: rainy season, characterised by short, sharp showers
- July and August: the wettest months; average rainfall in August is 602mm (24 inches)
‘Winter’ – November to February
The Shwedagon Festival is held in February or March each year at this shimmering pagoda.
Yangon’s ‘winter’ isn’t a winter as anyone in the northerly parts of the northern hemisphere would know it; the temperature is still a wonderfully warm 19 to 33°C (66 to 91°F), with December and January averaging 25°C (77°F) during the day. But that’s cooler compared with the rest of the year in hot and humid Yangon, and it’s much drier, too, and that’s why this is the busiest time to visit.
Another thing to consider if you’re visiting around this time is that the Shwedagon Festival takes place around February or March (its timing is based on the Full Moon). A riot of dancing, drama and tasty food, it celebrates the shimmering gold Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon’s iconic landmark.
Dry Season - March to May
Touring Yangon’s beautiful old architecture is best done morning or afternoon during the hot season.
The dry season in Yangon runs from March to May, and it’s oppressively hot and humid. The hottest month is April, when temperatures can get up to 40°C (104°F). If you do end up visiting during this season, the Thingyan Water Festival offers some relief from the heat. Marking the Buddhist New Year celebrations, it involves people taking to the streets to throw water at each other, symbolising washing away bad luck from the previous year.
Rainy Season - June to October
Clouds gather over the Shwedagon Pagoda
Yangon’s location on the south coast means that it gets a lot of rainfall, and the rainy season isn’t the best time for exploring its wealth of outdoor sites. That said, the rainfall tends to occur in short showers, so it’s fairly easy to seek temporary shelter if it rains when you’re out and about. The wettest months are July and August, with August receiving an average rainfall of 602mm (24 inches), compared to just 2mm in February.
Planning a trip to Yangon? Find out about our small group tours to Burma.