Seriously Useful Budgeting Tips for Myanmar (Burma)

Seriously Useful Budgeting Tips for Myanmar (Burma)

Myanmar (Burma) is, as you may have heard, changing fast and, no matter how up-to-date a guide book may feel, the chances are that, by the time you get out there, things will have changed.

During my recent trip, I found the biggest stumbling blocks - thanks to these changes - are accommodation and transport rates.

In short, the rates are going up fast.

Basic rooms that were going for $15 in late 2012 (when the last Lonely Planet guide was printed) are now up to $25, $30 - and in some instances - $50. 

And seeing as many hotels, guesthouses and travel agencies ask to be paid in US dollars, this can cause issues if you are spending more than you have brought with you.  My advice is to work out what you need and then take at least 50% extra. Dollars can always be changed back or to another currency easily, but it means you won't have to cut short your trip, or miss out on somewhere because you can't afford it.

There are many international ATMs available in every hub now - Yangon, Mandalay, Nyaungshwe (Inle Lake), Nuang U (Bagan), but you can only withdraw local Kyat, which works for day-to-day activities, food etc, although not always the bigger payouts. So, US Dollars need to be sorted beforehand and, like I say, some guesthouses, hotels and travel agencies (especially when booking flights) only accept dollars and not Kyat.

Don't base your budget on a guide book either.

Instead, get in touch with guesthouses via email or websites first to get an idea on cost.


Also, consider high season (Nov - Feb) which adds a bit more on!

On a side note, it's not ideal carrying so many dollars but, at the time of writing, Myanmar is an incredibly safe place, so it is unlikely you will feel vulnerable. Of course, you still should keep your wits about you when travelling alone in busy places and at night.  Spread your cash out although misplacing a bag is more likely than having it stolen).

Finally, the Burmese want crisp, clean notes, so avoid notes with folds or tears, if you can. They also prefer big denominations, so feel free to take a pile of 100s rather than 5s, 10s or 20s.  It's much easier to store that away too.



Travel tip shared by KarenNEdwards