The cost of travelling in Burma (Myanmar)

Ah Burma. You probably know by now that I’m a big fan. The insanely hot days spent sweating profusely and roaming around exploring temples and pagodas, speaking to numerous monks and enjoying the generous hospitality of the local people.

When I did my initial research intothe cost of travelling in Burma, I received a huge shock. Some said it would cost up to $100 per day, that there were no ATM’s and that bare bones accommodation would set me back $50 per night. Well, I can tell you now that, it’s not as bad as people have made it out to be since the lifting of trade sanctions allowing a flood of investment into the region. Overall, I found Burma to be on par with Cambodia and Laos in terms of cost, coming in at an average of $35 per day.

BURMA Spend ($US) Avg spend per day Percentage
Alcohol $27 $1 4%
Food $208 $10 47%
Accomodation $290 $14 66%
Household/Groceries $2 $0 0%
Personal $11 $1 2%
Transportation $83 $4 19%
Tourism $113 $5 26%
Misc $11 $1 2%
Total $744 $35 100%
Total Days 21
Average Cost Per day $35

 

Accommodation: This was one area that I had difficulty in working out budgets for. Every review I found of each place weren’t too glowing but after staying in those places, I think the reviewers expectations were way too high. Yes the places are slightly run down but the demand of accommodation in Burma exceeds supply so there’s no real reason to invest too much into the creature comforts. For a twin room with air conditioning and a bathroom you’d look at paying $20 per night and comes with breakfast which is normally fried eggs on toast, jam and Coffeemix coffee (gross). Some would offer a traditional breakfast of noodles which was my preference. This is one area where it helps having a travel buddy to split the cost of a twin or double toom as there are few dorm style rooms.

bagan accomodation

Our accommodation in Bagan

Transport: The busses here are pretty old and run down. Some had air conditioning that barely worked and others barely did a satisfactory job. From Yangon to the Kinpun, we picked up people from the side of the road and we ended up having a full bus with people seated on tiny stools in the aisle from the back to the front of the bus. Generally the longer the ride the more expensive it would be but the most we paid was $15 from Kalaw to Bagan and the rest were between $5 to $11 for up to a five hour journey. If you want to ride on the super premium pimping busses, these are only available on the main route between Mandalay-Yangon. Also, keep in mind we paid the for the premium busses so you could probably get around for cheaper if you shopped around, but what you save in money, is traded off in a test of patience.

It is possible to get around the country in trains but the average speed is 50km/h and the line is extremely bumpy with no air conditioning present in the carriages. I only caught one train and that was the circle line in Yangon which cost $1 for a 3.5hr ride

Tourism: Tourism for foreigners can be considered expensive versus what the locals pay as there is a foreigners tax. Most entrry costs are around $5, with the more popular sites such as Schwedagon Pagoda at $8 and $6 to the Golden Rock. If you’re half Asian looking then you could probably have a go at getting away as a local but it’s not worth trying really.

Drinks: Soft drinks are quite expensive with western brands from Coca Cola and Pepsi being over $1 for a can of soft drink, but a large bottle of beer being a flat $1 wherever you go. A small bottle of water is around 30c – 40c. If you go to a western cafe then expect to pay western prices for your coffee at around $3+ for a cup cappuccino or iced coffee. We went to a few cafes like this with the hope of finding WiFi but the connection speeds were not worth the $6 for lunch and coffee in the end.

mandalay food

Although Mandalay wasn’t my favourite city, it made up with the delicious culinary influences from India.

Food: There is quite a range of food available. If you’re looking for budget then hit the streets at night for street food which can range between 50c-$1 for a small serving of meat on a stick. I found most street food to be oily so didn’t eat it as much, although I was addicted to Mohinga, the curry fish soup which would cost under $1 for a bowl. I could have eaten that every day. I spent more than I should have on fod because I was overindulging quite a bit, ordering multiple plates of food. I certainly put on a tiny bit of weight in Burma. The Burmese food that I enjoyed were the curries in Mandalay, stir fries in Bagan and BBQ in Yangon. Overall, to have a pretty decent meal you’d expect to pay between $2 and $3.

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A stack of Khats


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