Everything I read online said that Myanmar was far more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia and to budget accordingly. I think I might have mistook that and went a bit far… but luckily, it was a bit far the better way!
Overall, for 10 days in Myanmar, I spent $616.84. Seriously. I was pretty shocked, especially because I felt like, on the whole, I lived well!
How did that work out?
This took me from Siem Reap to Mandalay, Myanmar. However, cheap flights came at a cost – of having to deal with DMK airport!
Americans needs visas to get into Myanmar, and you can’t get them on arrival. Luckily, they’ve introduced an online process that’s quite easy! It’s a flat $50 for US citizens.
This even included one night of a “whoopsie” in that I booked (and paid for) a hostel bed when I was actually taking the night bus. Oh, well! In general, there were two nights that I took the night bus in Myanmar, and then this includes the overnight in Kuala Lumpur between Myanmar and India. That alone was about $26, which shows you just how cheap Myanmar ended up! I stayed at nicer hostels along the way – mainly because I wanted to make friends (it worked well). So that kept the costs down considerably.
I spent more on transportation in Myanmar because I used busses a lot internally. I flew into Mandalay, but took the bus from Mandalay to Bagan, Bagan to Inle Lake, and then Inle Lake to Yangon. Bus service in Myanmar is known to be a bit safer and more comfortable than air travel (or so I heard). Apparently Myanmar airlines are the only ones who fly domestically in the country, thus they’re able to charge obscene prices and have less-than-stellar safety records. The busses are done well, though! I took the “VIP” bus each time, and for the night busses, that meant a reclining seat about as wide as a standard first-class seat on an airplane. They also provided blankets and pillows, so was a good way to travel overall.
All of the places I stayed had free breakfast daily, so I took advantage of that. Otherwise, I ate WELL in Myanmar. I went to the most expensive local restaurants and ate whatever I wanted. And I started drinking alcohol again because I found a vineyard in Myanmar! I could have been more fastidious and saved a ton of money here, but I am very happy to have eaten well throughout the trip!
Myanmar was incredibly cheap for activities – between renting motorbikes in Bagan to Trek Bikes in Inle; boat rides around Inle Lake, etc. A whole day of motorbike rental in Bagan was about $4!
I needed some new contact solution, a dust blower cleaner for my camera, and I had my laundry done! Yay clean clothes!
I bought another two pairs of the incredibly comfortable pants on offer around here – I realized I did not pack enough, so they’re great to have! And they’re acceptable for all kinds of temple-visiting.
Ultimately, it came out to an average of about $61.69 per day. I targeted my non-flight/visa costs to be under $70/day, and came in at $41.60. (My flight/visa comes out of a separate visa, so when I budget per country per day it’s without those included.) I definitely thought Myanmar was going to be far more expensive than it was, so now my budget has a nice level of padding where I came so far under.
Myanmar really was magical – I’m so glad I got to come before it gets more touristy. There was so much that felt authentic (even in the midst of Inle!), and the people were genuinely nice!