February 9, 2013 by farbolino
This is just a quick rundown of what things cost in Myanmar at the moment for hotels in high season. I flew to Yangon on the 8th of January 2013 and spent 28 days there, which is the max of the visa. I hear that you can overstay the visa easily for a fee of $3 a day and this will not affect re-entering the country in the future.
All I had read about Myanmar was how expensive hotels and guesthouses were, and that you ABSOLUTELY needed to book them in advance in high season. I also read that you needed absolutely perfect condition US dollars to exchange. So I’ll start by saying you don’t need to book in advance, accommodation isn’t THAT expensive, and the US dollars don’t need to be perfect.
Here is a rundown of what I paid for places to sleep throughout the country in the order that I visited:
Yangon: FREE (couchsurfed) but I also did a little research and there is a place called Mahabandoola Guesthouse in downtown that’s only $3 for a dorm, $5 for a single, and $10 for a double. I also walked in at 8pm and they weren’t full, so no need to book in advance. Most people I’d talked to said it wasn’t possible to find a place for less then $30 a night.
Bagan: The night bus from Yangon arrives at the god awful hour of 3 am. We walked around and most places were charging $25 or more. We managed to bargain a room down to $16 for two people down from $25 at View Point Inn at the northern most point of Nyaung U. The rooms weren’t nice, but saving $9 a night was preferable. There is also a place called Eden Motel that has dorm rooms for $8 a night close by.
Mandalay: FREE. Again, this was through couch surfing. There aren’t many hosts, but the ones who are hosting host a lot of people, so you may end up sleeping on a tile floor. Just like Bagan I had heard there is nothing below $25 a night, but if you really look, I’m sure you can find something. You may have to bargain. I also know there is a Monastery near U Bain bridge that will take people for free. Just leave a donation when you leave.
Hsipaw: The only place that I booked 24 hours in advance was Nam Khae Mao’s. It was $14 a night and LOUD. Bring earplugs. I heard Mr. Kid’s was cheaper, but doesn’t have hot water. Hsipaw gets COLD overnight, so a cold shower won’t be pleasant. Mr. Charles has government ties and I’ve heard from nearly everyone that the staff is unfriendly and unhelpful.
Namsang: about 50 miles north of Hsipaw is Namsang. There’s only one guesthouse and it’s 3500 kyat (or $4). Also loud if a lot of people are staying. The staff is friendly and will tell you a route to trek back to Hsipaw without a guide.
Owntat: We trekked 8 hours from Namsang to the village of Owntat where we slept at a Monastery. They cooked up dinner, gave us snacks, tea and coffee, and also fed us breakfast. They never asked for a dime, but we gave them a donation.
Small village: after 7 hours of trekking brings you to the next rest stop. The least 3 hours are without food or water, so bring some with you. Here you’ll sleep at a restaurant/tea shop owners house on the top floor. The cost is 1500 kyats (less then $2) and he can make you food too.
After a night in Hsipaw again, we took the train to Pyin Oo Lwin. We checked lots of hotels/guesthouses, and all were around $20-25. Queen Hotel was willing to bargain though, and they were the only place that had wifi too. I asked if they could give a discount, and they asked what I wanted to pay. I said $16, and they said yes, so maybe ever cheaper is possible. Not a single place in Pyin Ooo Lwin was booked out that we checked.
next up was Yenangyaung. This is a very off the path tourist destination, but we went because we thought we’d have the chance to help out at an orphanage. It turned out to be nothing like we expected. We originally thought we’d be helping out with the kids, and didn’t initially know the cost of a room. As it turns out it cost $50 for a double and about $30 for a single. Eric (the owner) reduced the price of the room for us since we really wanted to help out. We were under the impression it would be a “basic” guesthouse from reading about other peoples stays like these: http://garlicneversleeps.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/yenangyaung/
but as it turned out, Eric’s Lei Thai Gone Guesthouse isn’t nearly as ‘basic’ as I had heard. The room was by far the nicest of anywhere I had stayed, and had stone walls with new beds and new appliances. The stay also includes a wonderful free breakfast, all the fruit you can eat in a day, free bottled water, and pick up and drop off from the bus station. About the only ‘basic’ thing about it was the cld water shower. Since Yenangyaung is quite a hot place, a cold water shower was quite refreshing anyways.
Eric took us to some of the villages where the children live, but says that he normally doesn’t do that for most guests. The way most guests help out is simply by staying in the guesthouse, and the profits go to helping these children.
After Yenangyaung, we went to Chaung Tha beach. We stayed at Sea and See guesthouse right at the beginning of town. A double room was $10, but we bargained down to $8 since we were staying s few days. The beds were thin and the showers cold, and it was a 3 minute walk to the beach, but considering how cheap the place was there was nothing to complain about. After 3 days at Sea and See, we transfered to Garden Hill guesthouse, which was a 20 minute walk out of town, but was on a hill overlooking the ocean. Breakfast was also included as well as wifi at the sister hotel in Chaung Tha. The rooms here were truly beautiful, but were a bit more expensive at $20 a night. This place would be perfect for couples who want a romantic getaway.
Our last few nights were spent back in Yangon (again couch surfing). I’ll do a post on what to expect in terms of food prices and how to get around using the public buses as soon as I get the chance.