Lots of travelers wonder how much money is needed to travel Myanmar, now that the country has only just recently opened to more tourism. In years past, travelers had to carry all their cash, as ATMs weren’t available -- that’s no longer the case. Despite some costs being higher than those in Thailand, Myanmar is still a very affordable destination.
Calculating rough travel costs for Myanmar really depends on you and your style of travel. Myanmar can be explored on a backpacker’s budget, but on the other hand, you’ll find plenty of luxury hotels and lavish ways to spend additional money.
- See everything you need for planning a trip to Myanmar.
About Money in Myanmar
Prices in Myanmar are often quoted in U.S. dollars, although kyat -- the local currency -- will certainly work as well. Always pay with whichever currency works out best in your favor. Remember: your kyat will be worthless outside of Myanmar, but U.S. dollars work well in many other countries.
- See the ins and outs of dealing with currency in Myanmar.
Budget flights from Bangkok to Yangon are easy to find. But before arriving, you’ll need to pay US $50 for an eVisa. You should apply for your Burmese visa online before planning your trip. You may also want to check into the recommended vaccinations for Asia.
Land-based transportation in Myanmar is a real deal and will only make up a small part of your budget to visit.
- Taxis: Taxis in Yangon, although not metered, are surprisingly cheap for the time spent in traffic. While the norm in Asia is to negotiate hard with drivers before getting inside, you can relax a little in Yangon. An exception is for taxis to and from the airport; you’ll pay a premium (US $8 – $12) for the long ride to the city.
- Buses: Overnight and long-haul buses in Myanmar are great deals given the amount of distance traveled. An overnight tourist bus -- with snack, water, and movies included -- from Hsipaw in the north of Myanmar back to Yangon costs around US $20. Public buses are very cheap (around 25 cents per ride), however, figuring out routes can be difficult without local help.
- Trains: Train travel is the way to go in Myanmar. Although cars and track certainly show their ages, the scenery and experience make up for the bumpy ride. The insignificant price difference between classes in trains is often well worth the money for the additional comfort.
When budget travelers claim that Myanmar is much more expensive than neighboring Thailand or Laos, they are often referring to accommodation prices. Prices for government-sanctioned guesthouses and budget hotels are higher than that in other parts of Southeast Asia. The good news is that standards are often higher, too. A full-service hotel in Mandalay with elevator attendants and the works can cost as little as US $30 per night. Most decent-sized hotels include a free breakfast.
Backpackers traveling to Myanmar will find that the cost of dorm beds in hostels are certainly higher than in other countries in Southeast Asia -- as much as $16 per night. If traveling as a pair, the cost of two dorm beds is often the same as that of a private double room.
A midrange hotel in Yangon starts at around US $40 per night; prices increase depending on location.
Food in Myanmar can be cheap, although portion sizes are certainly smaller. Breakfast is often included in the price of your hotel room. Restaurant prices vary, but a bowl of noodles or curry rarely costs more than US $2 at a basic eatery.
Many restaurants serve family-style meals, meaning that you order several plates to share around the table. The price of your meal obviously depends upon how many plates of meat, salad, vegetables, soup, and rice that you choose.
As always, attempts at Western food in tourist-oriented restaurants and eating at your hotel will cost more.
Beer, even at restaurants in Myanmar, is incredibly cheap. You can enjoy a large bottle of local beer for US $1; expect to pay double that at nicer restaurants.
Although you won’t see any of the ubiquitous 7-Eleven minimarts found throughout Asia, bottles of local rum or other alcohol can be purchased from shops for around US $3. Imported spirits cost much more.
Along with accommodation, entrance fees at popular places in Myanmar will be one of the bigger hits to your budget. Tourists always pay more than locals. Expect to pay US $8 for the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, US $10 to enter the Inle Lake zone, and US $20 to enter Bagan. Less popular places such as the Drug Elimination Museum in Yangon (entrance: US $3) and the National Museum (entrance: US $4) are relatively inexpensive.
Saving Money in Myanmar
In short, how much money you need to travel Myanmar is really up to you. You’ll spend more if you choose to book tours, hire private drivers, and stay in upscale hotels. The more that you move around, and the more sights you choose, the more you’ll ultimately spend to travel in Myanmar. Budget travelers can get by on the cheap!