In terms of travelling South East Asia, Myanmar is a bit of a grey patch when it comes to the cost of travel, its borders only opened to mass tourism in 2011 and anything that you read online in terms of travelling and the cost’s goes out of date pretty quickly (so bare in mind that I’m writing this as of my trip there in December 2015).
For example, its likely you’ll still come across blog posts that tell you that there are no ATM’s in Myanmar, this was the case in 2011-2012 but i can assure you the country has an abundance of them now, in fact we even saw ATM’s in the impressive Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. You may also read that you need crisp US Dollars, this is true if you want to pay in dollars but you can use their local currency Kyat for everything whilst there.
The first person i actually met who had travelled Myanmar was a girl in my hostel dorm room in Kuala Lumpur whilst i was travelling around South East Asia at the start of 2014, i had heard of Myanmar and had briefly looked into it but after hearing how passionate she was towards the country and how lovely she said the locals were i knew that i had to visit! Of course the one thing she did mention which i then read a lot online is that accommodation costs can be quite high as there is a lack of accommodation vs the amount of tourists now arriving so they can charge a higher cost and people will pay.
This soon became my biggest worry as i would have been travelling alone and although technically i could have afforded $30 rooms a night i didn’t want to pay this and getting the visa would have involved spending a few days in Bangkok to get it sorted at the visa office etc and so Myanmar quickly became a Country that i would have to visit in the (near) future.
Fast forward to the middle of 2015 and with another South East Asia trip looming and friends to accompany me i assured them that Myanmar had to be included this time! I still had a fear of high accommodation costs but i knew that between 2-3 of us this would reduce dramatically (and it did). Also by 2015 you could apply for an Evisa online (i used this website which i would recommend), pay a fee of of $50USD/ £34.00 online, print off the approval letter and viola you can enter the Country, no trips to immigration offices involved!
Also on this note you do have to have your flights booked in advance, they ask you the port of entry when you apply for the visa and the visa clearly states you need a flight booked out of the Country when you arrive. I didn’t get asked for proof of this at HCMC airport in Vietnam but my friend who left HCMC 2 days before me did get asked and they wouldn’t let her board without proof of a flight! Personally i hate this as we didn’t know how long we wanted and needed in the Country and it really restricted us but laws are laws and i would personally recommend booking a flight in and out of Yangon as it’s the cheapest airport.
Ok, now for some number crunching..
I’m going to say straight away that in 13 nights in Myanmar i spent £200.00/ $285.00 (!!) and this included everything apart from my flights and visa. So accommodation, buses, taxis, food, bottled water (i didn’t drink any alcohol in Myanmar), a 3 day trek, entrance fees into temples, the entrance fee into Bagan and into Inle Lake, a boat trip, renting an e-bike for 2 days, a day trip in Mandalay and a Burmese Massage, so you get the picture that my money went very far!
Prices of accommodation which was my main worry really differed depending on where we were. Firstly it’s important to mention that we did 3 overnight buses (Yangon-Bagan, Inle Lake-Mandalay and Mandalay-Yangon) and we did a 3 day trek which included 2 nights accommodation so actually we only paid for 8 nights accommodation in guesthouses and there were 4 of us so we could share twin/double rooms which helped us out a lot.
We started the trip in Yangon at Motherland Inn 2 Guesthouse (i would recommend staying there) where we paid $35.00 USD for a twin room per night which is quite steep, working out at £12.00 each and this did worry us for the rest of the trip. However we then arrived in Bagan with no accommodation booked and were taken to Winner Hotel (which wasn’t toooo bad but i wouldn’t overly recommend it) by our taxi driver where we paid a more appealing $18.00 USD for a twin room per night so £6.50 each, then we got to Kalaw and had heard about the Golden Lily Guesthouse where we got a 4 bed room for $14.00 meaning £2.30 each (!!) this was very very cheap and it included breakfast however it was pretty dingy, cold and a bit dirty. After our trek we ended in Inle Lake and paid $25.00 USD for a twin room per night, £8.50 each at Goodwin Hotel (do not stay here!) and finally we ended the trip in Mandalay where we stayed in Nylon Hotel (i definitely recommend staying here) where we paid $16.00 USD for a twin room per night, £5.30 each.
So as you can see accommodation really wasn’t that expensive! If i had been travelling alone and had to pay those rates by myself it would have had more of an impact on my budget but travelling with friends does have its perks!
Hostels in Myanmar are still very few and far between, we met a girl who stayed in one in Inle Lake and i saw the odd one on hostelworld.com for Yangon but i didn’t see or hear of any others, although I’m sure within a year this will change!
Also, the main thing to note when taking into account where i stayed and how much i paid is that the state of the accommodation really wasn’t great! None of the rooms were overly dirty but they were budget rooms and places with questionably clean bathrooms, often no hot water, not very helpful staff, not very good wifi and although breakfast was included in all the room rates apart from where we stayed in Kalaw the breakfast was very poor with only eggs and sickly, sweet white bread for toast so you really do pay for what you get in Myanmar for accommodation at the moment however we survived and we were happy that we didn’t spend too much so as long as you don’t expect modern rooms with excellent wifi then you’ll be ok!
I’m now just going to note roughly what else i spent my money on in Myanmar to help you budget.
1 Litre bottle of water: 300k /£0.17/ $0.24
Food: ranged from 1500k-3000k/ £0.85-£1.70 /$1.21- $2.42
Shwedagon Temple Entrance fee: 8000k /£4.50/ $6.50
Overnight Bus to Bagan: 15,000k /£8.50/ $12.10
Fee to enter Bagan: 27,000k /£15.30/ $21.80
Taxi from Bus station in Bagan to temple sunrise to then find accommodation for 4 people: 32,000k/ £18.15/ $25.90
Electric Bike hire in Bagan per day: 6000k /£3.40/ $4.85
Day bus to Kalaw: 11,000k/ £6.20/ $8.90
3 day, 2 night trek including food, accommodation and guide: 45,000k /£25.50/ $36.40
Fee to enter Inle Lake: 13,000k /£7.40/ $10.00
Burmese Massage in Inle Lake: 7000k /£4.00/ $5.70
Overnight bus to Mandalay: 15,000k /£8.50/ $12.10
Ancient City tour in Mandalay for 4 people: 35,000k /£19.90/ $28.30
Overnight bus to Yangon: 15,000k /£8.50/ $12.10
Based on the currency rate of: 1 GBP= 1.43 USD & 1759k.
I hope this post will help you when it comes to budgeting in Myanmar. Overall, as you can see its really not an expensive Country to travel, as always you could spend more money especially on nicer accommodation but it can be done on a budget which is the most important thing and it is a fascinating, unique and beautiful Country!
Sorry for switching currencies a lot, as mentioned at the top of this post, in Myanmar although they use their local currency of Kyat everywhere and you can pay for everything in Kyat, they convert the accommodation prices and often some bus prices into dollars but to help my English readers and just myself understand i have also converted it to ££!
To view more of my posts on Myanmar please see:
There’s also a video of my time in Myanmar on my YouTube Channel, check it out here!
**Have you been to Myanmar in the past and think the costs have changed or are you planning on visiting soon??**