“How much does it cost to visit in burma Tours?” is the most often asked question, which I get in your e-mails. The general answer should be that it depends on the style of your adventure, but that doesn’t really answer anything. Tourism boom, which has hit the country final year caused tremendous prices to skyrocket. The bad news is that burma is the second most expensive country to go to after Singapore in Southeast Asia. The worse news is that it’s going to be more expensive in the coming 2-3 years. Let’s carry a look how much money a trip to burma is likely to cost you this year.
In burma the local currency is kyat (MMK). The exchange rate in recent months was approximately US$1 = 840-860 MMK. In last week or so US1$ was 880-890 MMK. As no one knows if it’s going to stay that way for long let’s calculate that US$1 = 850 MMK. For a typical tour in myanmar you will need a visa, accommodation, food, local transport, and entrance fees as the absolute minimum. Let’s break it down then!
Every traveler visiting the country requires a visa. At present it cost US$30. Please check with your nearest burma embassy and don’t complain if it’s more expensive few months after this article was published.
The cheapest guesthouses and hotels go for about US$15-20 all around the major locations in the country. In that price you will get an old, worn-off, not to clean room with outdated often uncomfortable furniture. It will come with an ancient, loud air conditioner or a fan. The room will have a primary bathroom. If you are lucky you will contain a hot water and working toilet. The criterion of cleanliness varies, but is usually worse than you would normally expect. Many cheap hotels are full of mosquitos. They are also often occupied by mostly Asian sex tourists, which might not make for the quietest night. Please note that sometimes the cheapest might not be available and you will end up in an equally lousy room for US$30 or something relatively decent for US$50-60.
In some places you may sleep in the monastery. It’s free, but you should leave a donation of 5,000 MMK+ per person per night.
Homestays are generally illegal at present (some changes are on the way), but some locals are happy to accommodate you nevertheless. Due to the recent liberalization of the country, contrary to the well known opinion you should not put your hosts in trouble for staying with them if you are discreet about it. You also should leave a donation of 5,000 MMK+ per person per night.
Couchsurfing is free, but most of the locals do not host as they are quiescent afraid of the government. Tremendous foreigners including me do not host as they simply don’t have time to respond to 100 inquiries per week. But fantastic luck with this!
A decent mid-range hotel will cost you US$50 – US$100, while luxury goes from US$300+
You can grab a portion of rice and chicken curry on the street for up to 1,000 MMK. There are only two problems with road food in burma. Firstly it’s the hygiene or lack of thereof. I hear you saying ‘Oh, I ate on the road in Thailand, Cambodia, and tremendous other places. I’ll be fine.’ probably you will, probably you won’t. This is myanmar, my friend. When thinking about food hygiene think not Thailand, but India. Only worse.
Saying that I have to admit that I eat on the street once in a while and most of the time I am fine. My primary three weeks in the country, however, were the worst in my life when it comes to stomach issues. It’s your holidays. The choice is also yours.
The second issue with cheap road food is its value. While in Thailand you could get a decent portions of rice and chicken/pork/seafood for up to 2 USD, in myanmar you will get a relatively modest portion of rice and very small portion of meat. And most of it will be bones anyway. A normal adult person will ought to order a triple portion costing you up to 3,000 MMK to not feel hungry one hour later.
Save yourself the hustle and head straight to the local restaurants (a level up from street food) and get rice with watercress for 1,500 – 2,000 MMK, hot&sour chicken with rice for about 3,000 MMK, fried fish for 6,000 MMK, and a bottle (640 ml) of cold burma beer for 1,600 MMK. Count 15,000 MMK per day and you should not be walking hungry and thirsty
Want to treat yourself? Head to one of the wonderful restaurants such as The Corriander Leaf (Indian Fine Dining), Acacia Tea Saloon (mixed cuisine) or Le Planteur (European Cuisine). Get ready to say goodbye to about 20,000-30,000 MMK in the primary two. Full three-course dinner with wine at Le Planteur will cost you around US$100.
You should not pay more than 3,000 MMK for a taxi anywhere within Yangon adventure. I usually pay 1,500 – 3,000 MMK depending on the distance. Negotiate in expand as there are no meter taxi in burma. A taxi from the airport or bus station to the city center (45-60 minutes) will cost you 8,000 MMK or slightly less depending on the distance and your negotiation skills. Use the above prices as a reference for Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake as well.
The public buses in Yangon charge 200 MMK per ride. Try it out if you know where they are going.
A taxi for all day will cost you from US$50 to US$100. A car with a driver for a day in myanmar will cost you anywhere between US$100 to US$200 depending on the car quality and who you organize it with.
Highway buses cost from 6,000 MMK (for example Yangon – Nay Pyi Taw) to 20,000 MMK (Yangon – Mandalay) depending on the bus quality and distance.
An overnight sleeper train from Yangon to Mandalay will cost you US$60. The prices for other trains and location depend on the distance and quality of the train. General rule is that the trains are more expensive than the buses on the same routes, but the experience is worth it. At least once.
Flights between major destinations cost between US$100 to US$200 one way depending on tremendous factors such as time of booking, who you book with, and possibly some others. It’s the fastest, most convenient, and most pricey way of traveling in myanmar.
Entrance fees are generally not high, but may be a pain in the ass. A get to to Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon will cost you US$5. Some other pagodas and sights around the country will usually cost anything around US&1-5 with a few exceptions of US$10. Many sights are free or charge a modest camera fee (300-500 MMK) if you contain one. Entry fee to Inle Lake and Bagan is US$10 each. Depending on what you want to find in Mandalay, you might need a pass for all the sights in the city which cost US$10 as well. These prices will probably be higher very soon. US$50 should carry care of all your entrance fees. The income from the admission fees goes directly to the Tourism Development Fund managed by the Ministry of Hotels & Tourism. It’s not the best idea to avoid if you want better infrastructure for your second visit.
Given the above let’s try to calculate a typical cheap, but reasonable two-weeks stay in burma featuring Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake – the country’s most known for destinations.
- Visa: US$30
- Accommodation: US$20 x 14 nights = 280
- Food: 18 USD x 14 = 252 USD
- Local transport: 3 /medium/long distance highway buses = US$50 + US$50 for taxis in all locations = US$100.
- Entrance fees: US$50
- Total: US$713
- Visa: US$30 x2
- Accommodation: US$20 x 14 nights = 280
- Food: 18 USD x 14 x 2 = 504 USD
- Local transport: 3 /medium/long distance highway buses = US$50 x 2 + US$50 for taxis in all locations = US$150.
- Entrance fees: US$100
- Total: US$1,094
This good-hearted of trip should cost you between US$700 to US$800, which sets your daily budget at US$50-57 if you are traveling solo. If you are traveling as a couple the trip should cost you around US$1,100 setting your daily budget at roughly US$40 per person.
Cheap? Expensive? Share your opinion and experience!