Cheap accommodation in Burma is scarce.
Since Burma became a growing part of the SE Asia tourist trail in 2010, the country has changed a lot. Tourism has grown much faster than the infrastructure to support it.
Although new accommodation is popping up, information about it is hard to find. Lonely planet (2012 edition) “picks” are swamped with tourists during high season. This has lead to massive price rises and many budget travellers ending up sleeping on the floor of monasteries, unable to get hotel rooms.
When we travelled to Burma we went on a fact finding mission to find unlisted guesthouses and check out if the well known places were still up to standard. This hub page will connect you to the information we amassed.
We ended up mainly staying in the lesser known places. At that time very little info was available for those places. Since then we have published Budget Burma: Backpacking Myanmar as well as the free resources below. This means you can get the locations and contact details in advance.
Before that, some general tips on what to expect when trying to find budget accommodation in Burma:
Price of accommodation in Myanmar
We found dorm rooms starting from $3. Single Rooms from $5 and Double rooms from $10.
Although these low prices are occasionally available, you should not expect to find them often. Furthermore, the cheapest rooms may be taken first, leaving you in a more expensive room or hotel.
We recommend budgeting at least $15 per person per night, just in case.
If you spend less then you’ll have some money leftover. Accessing money in Burma is becoming easier with the introduction of ATMs but is still unreliable. It’s better to have too much to start with than end up begging for money on the streets.
Sleeping on the floor in a monastery is still free but normally involves a hard floor and no security for your belongings. That said, crime in Burma is low.
Contacting Guesthouses (Reservations)
Sadly, very few budget guesthouses in Myanmar have online booking. If they do advertise an email address it does not mean you’ll get a reply. The internet is slow, so even if you can make bookings online it may take a while.
It is still very much normal to book by phone or in person on arrival. When booking by phone the line can sometimes be bad. Combine that with minimal English skills and bookings can be difficult.
Sometimes it is easier to discuss the booking with the reception at your current hotel. Write down the details and then get them to confirm the room for you in Burmese.
Room Reservations are not always held
Although this did not happen to us, it has happened often to other travellers. It especially occurs if:
- You book many days in advance
- You turn up late in the evening (they worry you won’t come and give the room away)
- You don’t re-confirm the night or morning before
We also found, guests that were already in a room, if asking to extend their stay, might get preference over guests who had made a reservation.
Not all guesthouses accept foreigners
This is not down to the guesthouse, it’s government regulations. The foreigner licence is expensive and they can’t all afford to purchase it.
Some guesthouses will accept foreigners without a licence, normally at a premium price. If they get caught it is unlikely that you will personally be in any trouble as you can claim you didn’t know about the rules – but be aware, I’m not a lawyer and this is at your own risk.
Hygiene and cleanliness
Guesthouses in Burma were comparable to other parts of south east Asia. So, the cheapest places were often quite dirty but most that hosted foreigners maintained a bearable standard for a budget backpacker.
A few dollars more a night ($30 to $40 double rooms) could sometimes find you in a very decent place.
How we got budget accommodation Burma
Travelling during low season made a lot of difference to availability. Even so, any guesthouse listed in Lonely planet had a shortage of rooms. But guesthouses that were not listed often had NO guests at all! Quite a difference. Plus, these lesser known places were normally better value.
Here are a few methods that increased our chances:
- We took the night bus and arrived very early in the morning. We could check in the second a room became available. If you arrive in the evening rooms are more likely to be full.
- We booked by phone the night before arriving if we knew we would not be arriving early morning – sometimes even if we were.
- Accommodation was often clumped in certain areas. We walked around and asked in anywhere that looked like a hotel.
- We asked locals to point us towards budget hotels
- We asked anyone who had just been to a location we intended to visit for any up to date info on places to stay and prices or how full they were.
- We were sometimes approached at transit stations with offers of hotels. In many countries taxi drivers and touts are a pest. In Myanmar, for now at least, they are less annoying and more honest than other parts of Asia.
Budget Accommodation Burma Pages
We have information for all the locations we visited. Just click the destination below for accommodation options, reviews and contact details.
Bagan (Nyang oo)
Inle Lake (Nyaung shwe)