Wednesday, 16 July 2014

How expensive is Burma? Part 1 - accommodation

Having spent 3 weeks exploring Burma this summer (June 2014), I thought I'd share my experiences of costs. This first installment looks at accommodation prices; all costs are in US $.

Accommodation is by far your biggest cost, and the one where Burma suffers by comparison with other SE Asian destinations. Much of the accommodation is overpriced compared to Thailand (if you want a point of comparison, you can see costs for Thailand in this post from three years ago - they haven't changed that much).

Types of accommodation:

  • I was staying decent places - mostly guesthouses that cater to the backpacker / budget traveller, but "nice" ones, and I always went for an ensuite, and normally A/C (temperatures averaged mid-30s when I was there). 
  • If you're happy to share a bathroom and/or live with a fan-cooled room, expect to shave 30-50% of the rates I paid in the same sort of accommodation. 
  • You can, of course, find cheaper if you're not too fussed about cleanliness, or don't mind windowless box rooms. But I like "nice".

Please note: I was there in low season; last high season some of the hoteliers raised their prices by 25%; many new hotels are currently being built, however there's still a shortage in some areas, so I wouldn't be surprised to see price increases again next winter.

Yangon - big city prices, so very hard to find anything cheap (without resorting to a hostal). Paid $30 for a large triple room (for single occupancy). Hostal rooms are available for about $15, according to other travellers I spoke to.

Inle Lake / Nyaungshwe - double ensuite rooms varied from $15-25, depending on the place. I heard of some single, share bathroom rooms going for as low as $7, but didn't check them out (and I'm guessing they were pretty small or run-down). Many places here don't have A/C, as it's not necessary that often (although it was pretty sticky when I was there).

Bagan / Nyaung U - double ensuite rooms for $20-25 ($15-20 for single occupancy)

Pyin Oo Lwin - same prices as Bagan for the nice places in the garden district $20-25 ($15-20 for single occupancy). Cheaper in the town centre. A/C isn't normally necessary or available.

Hsipaw - similar prices as Bagan or Pyin Oo Lwin for a "nice" place. Mr Charles advertises their cheapest single rooms at $7, but in most decent places you should expect to pay $15-20 for a large room with A/C and ensuite.

Mandalay - my last spot on the trip, and I felt like spoiling myself, so I stayed in a mid-range hotel for $40 (booked via Agoda, which seemed to offer good discounts on anything mid-range and up). I also considered a basic backpacker place that was quoting $18-25 a night.

In summary: 

  • Expect to pay $30+ in Yangon/Mandalay and $20 elsewhere for "flashpacker" off-season rates. 
  • Halve that for more basic accommodation. 
  • Expect prices will go up 25% next high season (as they did last high season).
My next post examines the other costs of Burma - food, transport and sight-seeing. Happy travels!

Like what you read here?
You can see my full coverage of Burma by clicking the country link at the top of this page, or jump into some of the more popular articles:
Myanmar money matters (do you really need to take pristine US dollars?)
Hsipaw, the North's trekking centre
Another view of Yangon

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