Christmas and New Year in Burma (Myanmar): 5 things to know

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We don’t want to be those people bleating about Christmas before Halloween. Singing along to premature festive songs in supermarkets, and smugly ticking off our gift list. No-one wants that. But December and January are two of the best months to visit Burma (Myanmar), so it’s time to get planning.

Why head to Burma for Christmas or New Year?

U Bein Bridge in Mandalay, Burma

1. You will dodge commercialised Christmas

Inle Lake in Burma (Myanmar)

While a fir tree cloaked in twinkling lights can make hearts sing, they make others sink. Burma was isolated for a long time and 89% of its population are Buddhist, so Christmas has not been commercialised in the way that we might expect in the West. Celebrations among the small Christian community are modest. No jingly adverts, inflatable reindeer or ceaseless renditions of Last Christmas. Phew.

2. The weather is at its loveliest

Waterfall in Pyin Oo Lwin

With glorious sunshine and pleasant temperatures (much less humid than those in the months ahead), December and January are two of the best months to visit Burma. Quite a novelty for those of us used to biting winds, and thick piles of snow in winter.

The rainy season has been and gone, leaving the landscape lush and green, and the rivers healthier than ever – the perfect conditions for a river cruise. As well as being some of the finest places to stay, these beautiful liners are undoubtedly the loveliest way to get around.

3. You can eat Christmas dinner on the beach (if you want to)

Ngapali beach in Burma (Myanmar)

What if you want the best of both worlds? Head to the beachy paradise of Ngapali. There are lots of lovely hotels and restaurants that serve Christmas dinner (sometimes on Christmas Eve). These may be compulsory, so if you err on the Scrooge side, it might be worth making different dining arrangements.

Prices are higher than at other time of the year, but it is Christmas. In Burma. You can sip cocktails on the beach in a Santa hat. A pretty amazing way to take advantage of that end of year annual leave.

4. There are Churches to celebrate at

Cathedral in Yangon, Burma

There are still ways that you can celebrate the religious side of Christmas. Burma does actually have a small Christian community – dating back to the early 1800s when missionaries from Europe and the US arrived. Visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral or the Saint Mary’s Cathedral (both in Yangon) for a good dose of carol singing, Midnight Mass, and the nativity scene.

5. It’s a great excuse to avoid New Year’s Eve

FIsherman on Inle Lake, Burma

There are New Year’s Eve celebrations, but they will be small. And potentially underwhelming. New Year actually takes place in April for Buddhists, when they celebrate with Thingyan, a water festival. Leave the hordes of crowds, overpriced taxis or unfulfilled resolutions for another time.

Ngapali Beach in Burma

For more information about travelling to Burma (Myanmar), get in touch with our team.

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