I'm planning a trip to Myanmar (around 18 days) somewhere in March-April.
I'll be following the typical tourist trail (Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake, possibly some trekking...) but I'm a bit undecided on whether or not I should include the Thingyan festival (Burmese New Year, which will take place between the 14th and 21st of April) in my travel date:
- On one hand, it sounds like fun and a great way to experience a bit of the culture.
- On the other hand, I've heard that transport and accommodation can become quite harder to get: most buses stop running, long distance trains get fully booked, etc. Not to mention the overall mayhem with locals travelling and partying, which can make moving around a bit difficult.
I'm usually a flexible/ad-hoc type of traveler as I often don't make a strict plan or make reservations, unless it's for the following day. I also prefer to travel overland and avoid flights (cheaper and a lot more fun!) so I'm expecting to be taking trains and buses to get around the country, and only fly in and out of it.
I haven't taken care of the e-visa or made any flight reservations yet, and I'd like to hear from people who have traveled through Myanmar during that time of the year:
- Should I anticipate my trip to the end of March + beginning of April (instead of, for example, from April the 1st to 18th) just to be safe? As much fun as the festival sounds, being unable to travel overland or missing the return flight wouldn't be worth it.
- Have you done any trekking in the hot season? I'm thinking about doing Kalaw - Inle Lake or perhaps something else in Hsipaw, but I'm wondering if the heat and dustier landscape makes it just too hard to be enjoyable.
- Any other tips or related story-sharing are welcome.
Thingyan Water Festival is the most funny & happiest festival in Myanmar. You should not miss to enjoy it.
Even the weather is too hot in central plain , the region of Shan state is good enough to do soft trekking along tribe villages.
Both Kalaw and Hsipaw is the good spot for trekking. It's up to your choice.
I was in Myanmar for Thingyan in 2014, and without a doubt it was the highlight of my 5 month trip across south east asia, It's a unique experience and I would say is worth sacrificing some of the 'locations' to be a part of. I spent it in Yangon , and arrived I believe on the 16th, at least the festival had been running for a few days when I got there. You may need to pre-book accomodation in the location you want to spend Thingyan, a fellow traveller I had met in Bangkok who arrived in Yangon before me organised a room for us both, so I had no issues when I got to Yangon, however having said that I believe that he simply arrived in town and walked around and found a place.
We made the decision to stay in Yangon untill the festival finished, and then spent a few days doing day trips. On the second day after the festival we caught a night bus to Bagan. We never once ran into issues with getting trains or buses around Yangon for the day trips, nor did we run into issues with getting to Bagan, or finding accomodation without booking. If you ant to travel during the actual festival, not sure how easy this would be, I did speak to people that did it, but I would think your best bet would be to find some where to stay and enjoy the festivities, rather than move around. You'll also find a lot of the standard restaurants and eateries etc are closed during that week, but you'll still find plenty of options.
After Yangon and Thingayn, I spent another 3 weeks travelling around. I never pre-booked anything, usually booked bus tickets and train tickets the day I was leaving. Never once had an issue with finding accomodation when I got into places I was staying.
I really cant recommend doing Thingyan enough though, it's an experience I'll never forget. I can't comment on what it's like in other areas, but in Yangon it was a lot of fun (keep in mind you can still spend your time walking around looking at the sites of the city, visiting the pagodas, as they are still open, you'll just have to be willing to spend 90% of your time completely wet!)
#3 Donman1990 has been a member since 7/4/2012. Posts: 34
Lost access to my prev. account & e-mail. Just dropped by to thank you - kosoesoemdy and Donman1990 - for sharing your experiences.
In the meantime I booked my flights and it looks like I'm going to have the luck to enjoy this year's festival.
Should be fun :)
#4 xeorwin1 has been a member since 8/2/2015. Posts: 1
Hi there. I am Andrei from the Philippines. I saw your post here so I thought maybe I should ask you about your plan to go to Myanmar. I am going there with a friend this April to experience the Water Festival and to see Bagan . I already booked my accommodation and they told me that online reservation for buses going to Bagan is not allowed during the festival. JJ Express likewise told me that they won't sell any tickets from April 9-21. Our last hope now is to take the train.
Any info that you can share is very much appreciated.
Hi Carla, my kababayan. Sorry for the very late response. My only option is to go straight to the bus station from the airport to buy the bus tickets. Malabo na talaga to book in advance. Walang nagrereply na bus company to date sa mga emails ko. I emailed one agency pa lang and I have yet to receive a reply from them. i just hope they can book the tickets for us instead since they are burmese anyway. Mahal talaga car rent not unless you are a big group.
Sana lang things will work out.
Hi BeachloverPH, or whoever is reading this!
I am planning to go to Yangon this April and, incidentally, my travel dates fall during the Water Festival. Since you guys have been there during the season, would you mind sharing with me how it went? As you've mentioned, I've been having a hard time booking bus tickets. And because of this, I don't know whether I should be booking my accommodation in Bagan/Inle this early, or arrive and stay a few days at Yangon first and manage all the logistics when I get there. Would really love to hear your thoughts.
All the best,
#7 ryanvvalencia has been a member since 19/2/2017. Posts: 1
i am also in the same position. My dates of travel coincide with the Water Festival and it's making reservations impossible! I usually don't even reserve more than my first night or two accommodation in advance, but I read that everything can get booked and well, it seems it has!! Mostly struggling with transportation. There are decent accommodation options available, but I'm also unsure whether to book it now or not bc still trying to find a way to get from point to point.
In need of help!!!
#8 windya96 has been a member since 22/3/2017. Posts: 1
I was planning my 15 days trip around Myanmar from the mid-April and I just reslised that coincides with Thingyan.
Looks really good but at the same time, no that good for accomodation-transport...
Could anyone that is also going on the same dates send to me the contact/FB... so we could share information about it?
You can contact me on FB
Thanks in advance.
#9 jonefi has been a member since 2/4/2017. Posts: 1
Just thought I'd send a current update about traveling during thingyan. I was there in 2017 and it was amazing. Very festive and fun as long as you realize you are going to get wet no matter where or what time you go outside. I saw lots of foreigners getting upset about water being poured on their new dry outfit but if you go into it knowing you'll be soaked no matter what and keep a smile on your face you'll have an amazing time, I promise. A couple things to look out for 1. The water used is very very dirty. Many of the people Ive talked to, including me got really sick afterwards from the water inevitably entering your body. Someone told me the locals start taking probiotics a month in advance. So maybe think about talking to your doctor if there is something you can take to avoid this. 2. There's no transport 14th-17th for sure and sometimes none on the 13th or 18th as well depending. But just pick a city to stay in for that time and enjoy the festival. :)
#10 Megan47 has been a member since 13/4/2017. Posts: 1
I just read news about Myanmar water festival 2017, 285 people killed in this festival. this is really socking news and total of 1,200 criminal cases were registered according to news.
#11 travelog has been a member since 20/4/2017. Posts: 2