Myanmar is one of those places which will simply take your breath away. This stunning, hilarious, downright crazy country is one of the most amazing places I have ever been. I have spent over three years traveling in Asia and Myanmar remains my favourite country. The people, the landscapes, the culture, the trekking, the sheer adventures you can have off of the beaten track – Myanmar is a country which should be at the top of your list!
Unfortunately however Myanmar is, compared to many other Asian countries, a little bit more expensive than you would expect. This is a country which has only been on the backpacker radar for a couple of years and there simply are not enough hostel rooms, tourist buses etc to cater for the demand – this has pushed prices way up. Couchsurfing is allegedly illegal in the country and there are very few hosts online.
So, how can you explore Myanmar without spending more than $25?
Since couchsurfing isn’t an option, you need to be smart with your accommodation – it definitely pays to have a buddy to share a room with as I only ever came across ONE guesthouse which actually had a dorm so you tend to end up paying for a room regardless of whether you are alone or a pair. The good (cheap!) accommodation fills up quickly, this is one of the very few places in the world where it is probably worth ringing up from your current guesthouse to book accommodation for your next stop. The cheapest I ever got a double room for was $10. The good news is that the accommodation tends to be pretty good quality.
When it comes to getting around, you have a lot of options. There are now some very nice long distance bus companies which are pretty damn comfy, normally I wouldn’t recommend traveling by transport aimed exclusively at backpackers but these buses are mostly filled with more affluent Myanmans. If you do catch one of these buses, expect to pay between $10 – $15 for your ticket, the advantage of traveling at night is you do of course save on a hostel room bill. You could also look at taking local buses during the day but be warned these are very slow, the good news is they are super cheap. Even better than buses – hitching! I successfully hitched a dozen short to medium distances whilst in Myanmar on trucks, I am sure with perseverance you could hitch longer distances.
Food and beer!
Ah, Myanmar – how I miss your beer! Myanmar Beer is, in my humble opinion, some of the best damn beer around in Asia! And it costs just 50 cents in most places throughout the country! Food is simple, cheap and available on pretty much every street corner. For one dollar, you can eat a very filling meal of traditional Myanman cuisine. Street sellers with trays of local delicacies and markets seem to be on every corner – you can pick up a snack for around 10 cents.
Many of the sites in Myanmar are free to get into but some, such as the Inle Lake Area and the Bagan Temples cost $5 to enter – however, once you get your ticket it is valid for 30 days so simply try to find another backpacker who has already been and ask them for their ticket. This worked a treat whilst we were there. And, that’s a wrap! Check out my brand spanking new article on 10 reasons you should visit Myanmar or if you want to know more about the practicalities of traveling around Myanmar, check out this country guide.
About the author
Who the hell is Will? – Writer and photographer. Adventurer and vagabond. Master of the handstand pushup. Conqueror of the infamous dick tick, survivor of deadly motorbike crashes and crusader for cheap escapades. Avid hitch-hiker. Not above borrowing bread. Part-time farmer, full-time charmer. Frequently uses stolen napkins as toilet paper. Has an extensive vocabulary but mostly uses ‘dude’ and ‘awesome’ to convey all emotions. Inventor of the man-hug. Has been described as an incorrigible cad. Sexually aroused by raging rapids, perilous peaks and paleo cheesecake. In constant need of a haircut. Smells of old leather.