Budget Breakdown: Myanmar for $40 a Day

Coming into Myanmar, I was expecting to pay handsomely for the experience. Fortunately, a three-week trip all over the country only cost me $855 (including the flight from Thailand). Myanmar, or Burma, if you’d prefer, opened up to tourists just a few years ago and everything I read said that demand outstrips supply when it comes to tourism infrastructure. There are some areas where Myanmar is more expensive that its neighboring countries, but overall things are better than expected.

Total Spent in Three Weeks $855

Daily Cost: $41

Itinerary

  • Yangon: 4 nights
  • Mandalay: 3 nights (including overnight travel)
  • Bagan: 3 nights
  • Mrauk U: 3 nights (including overnight travel)
  • Magwe 1 night stopover
  • Yangon: 2 nights
  • Hpa An: 2 nights
  • Mawlamyine: 2 nights (including overnight travel)
  • Dawei: 1 night
Shwedagon Pagoda is a must-see in Yangon. It costs foreigners $8 to get in.

Shwedagon Pagoda is a must-see in Yangon. It costs foreigners $8 to get in.

Hotels: $290

Myanmar probably has the worst value hotels in Southeast Asia. In hindsight, it’s not horrible as it seems. It just pales in comparison to other countries in the region. Fortunately, I was able to split relatively comfortable hotels with a travel buddy, which typically came to about $15 each per night. When I was on my own, I stayed in hostels that cost around $10 a night. All these rooms had air conditioning and WIFi, except for one miserable overnight stay in Magwe as we waited for a morning bus.

Transportation: $315

The flight from Chiang Mai to Yangon was $140 and by far the biggest expense The other bigger expenses here was the $30 fare each way to get to and from Mrauk U. Other buses were much more affordable and a violently shaky overnight train from Yangon to Mandalay was only $15.50.

The benefit of that awfully long bus $30 ride to Mrauk U was one way was an overnighter, so we saved money on lodging even though it was impossible to sleep. I took a bus overland to get back into Thailand, which allowed me to explore a little more of the country. That total journey from Dawei to Kanchanaburi cost around $30.

In Mandalay, sharing a rented motorbike was the perfect way to get around and only cost about $5 each including gas. I only almost got in an accident once, so I’m improving.

By renting a motorbike in Mandalay, we were able to get to all the main sights -- like U Bein Bridge -- for just $5 each.

By renting a motorbike in Mandalay, my travel buddy and I were able to get to all the main sights — like U Bein Bridge — for just $5 each.

Entertainment: $88

Almost half of this budget was for a day trip in Mrauk U to visit Chin villages. The rest of this money were for museum admissions (a somewhat pricey $5 a ticket) and other cultural attractions. I even saw The Avengers: Age of Ultron for a cool $3.50. It would have only been $2 if I sat in the front row, but a man’s got to treat himself sometimes.

Food and Drinks: $121

I think I forgot to log a couple meals, but I lived a bit like a monk during this trip. I loved trying all the street food (noodles were as cheap as 30 cents). Also, I didn’t really party because my travel buddy was ill for most of the trip. The coffee situation was dire, so I pretty much went without. I did suffer a some $5 beers at one fancy expat place, but that’s the price you pay when you go on a Tinder date (the date was mutually meh, by the way).

A huge Indian meal like this is about $2. Street Burmese food can be had for cheaper.

A huge Indian meal like this is about $2. Street Burmese food can be had for cheaper.

Shopping : $33

I have a limited amount of space and little interest in souvenirs, so I’m not one to buy anything that can’t be consumed. $20 of this was purchase was to fix my laptop.

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Karge

Karge

I'm an American freelance writer who spent a couple years living in Cambodia. Now I'm on the move again and traveling all over the place. I'm willing to try any bizarre liquor that's presented to me. Any recommendations?