Myanmar is one of the up and coming travel destinations and is set to become the new Cambodia or Thailand with its selection of amazing historical sites and tasty local cuisine. Airlines like Air Asia now offer frequent flights to the capital of Yangon, due to this the influx of tourists is continuing to grow and grow.
Although there has been an insane fluctuation in the price of things like accommodation in Yangon due to this rise in tourism, the good news is that it is still possible to experience Yangon for less than $25 a day!
Super Budget: Mahabandoola Guest House
Mahbandoola Guest house offers private double rooms for $10 USD a night and single is only $5. Remember to ask for the room with the air conditioner and you might be lucky and score this room, otherwise its fan only.
However it’s best to know in advance that Yangon suffers from frequent blackouts so you may find yourself without any power to run the air con or fan! If you are happy to stay in the dorm, which is really just a mattress on the floor or in the “hobbit cave” as we fondly named it, this option will only cost $4 per person!
The bathroom is shared and not the cleanest but if you’re really on a tight budget Mahabandoola is centrally located by the Sule pagoda and is close to the local bus station so you can grab a bus anywhere in town with ease! It’s also only a short walk to the Yangon train station!
There are a few other guest houses around but we found Mahabandoola to be the best price and location in Yangon.
Now, with that local bus stop so close by, jump onto any bus heading to the Shwedagon Pagoda (just ask the attendant at the stop which bus to catch)! You can also take a taxi, prices should be no more than 3000 kyat, make sure to negotiate before getting in!
The Shwedagon Pagoda has an entrance fee of $6 USD. It is worth it as this is the most stunning pagoda in Myanmar. We have heard that they can sometimes charge a camera fee, but we were never charged.
A pagoda has been on this site for over 2000 years, it’s quite a sight. We especially recommend going at night to see the pagoda as it is completely lit up, this is the best time to get some timeless shots! The ticket is valid all day so you can visit both day and night to get a selection of images of the pagoda if you like, just remember during the day the ground gets insanely hot and it’s bare feet only!
As this is a religious site please remember to dress appropriately with men and women wearing clothes that fall below the knee and women’s shoulders must be covered.
Thingyan (Water) Festival: April 13th – 16th
In April every year the country comes alive to celebrate the Buddhist “Thingyan Festival”. This festival last for 4 days and is a time of cleansing where everyone pours water over each other to clean off the sins of the previous year… In other words it’s the biggest water fight in the world!
During this time you can’t go outside without getting completely soaked and it’s common to have a random Burmese local yell out at you from a passing jeep “Are you Happy?”
There are individual water stations set up on the streets where you can grab a hose and soak all those who dare to pass by, but the best thing to do is find a jeep with some space in the back, jump on board and ride around making new friends along the way! Everyone is very welcoming and even though there is a language barrier there is no language needed when having a good time.
All of the events are completely free, the only cost might be a beer or two or a bottle of local whiskey (2000 Kyat) as added persuasion to join the back of a jeep!
Yangon is a smorgasbord of different food options and it is all very affordable! The streets are lined with different options: from noodles (300-400 kyat) to Indian samosas (100 kyat or 10 cents), chapattis and the local specialty “Mohinga” which is a fish based noodle soup.
One of our favourite places for food in Yangon is “Beer Street” (19th Street) which is in the heart of Chinatown. This place comes alive at night with locals and foreigners all coming together to sample amazing street side BBQ and have a cold beer! Here a full BBQ fish will cost you anywhere from 1000 kyat and up depending on the size of the fish! That’s only $1 USD! There are also a variety of cheaper options with vegetable skewers from 100 kyat.
Myanmar offers an excellent draught beer (Myanmar Draft) which is available in most beer stations. What’s even better is the standard price for an icy cold beer is 600 kyat – 70 cents. Only on beer street will you find beer served with food. In Myanmar it is tradition to only have tea with a meal then go elsewhere for a beer, so don’t expect beer stations to have anything more than peanuts to snack on but guess what it’s free so have as many as you like!
A Day in Yangon: The Total cost for 1 person
- Accommodation: $5
- Attractions: $6
- Taxis: $3 each way = $6 (Much less if you take the bus though!)
- Food: $3
- Beer: $1.40 (let’s say you have 2 beers)
- Daily Total: $21.40
- That leaves you $3.60 to spend on more beer!
Meagen Collins is chief editor of the Five Dollar Traveller website & author of Budget Burma: A comprehensive budget travel guide for Myanmar. While digesting her frequent food babies, Megsy blogs about tasty bites, booze, travel and whatever random topics pop into her head along the way! 5DT on facebook.