Myanmar (Burma) //

Accommodation

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Just a few years ago, accommodation in Myanmar was considered among the most affordable in Southeast Asia. This is no longer the case, thanks largely to a combination of steeply-rising tourist numbers and a lack of new budget and mid-range places to stay. While international companies are rushing to build luxury hotels, things are stagnant at the lower end of the scale where profits are smaller and getting a permit to accommodate foreigners is still a hassle. The upshot is that it’s difficult these days to get a double room in a guesthouse for less than $15, or $20 in the main tourist areas; this will usually include a shared bathroom, although you might get an old air-conditioning unit rather than a fan. If you’re looking for hotel facilities then the prices quickly rise to more than $30. Note that there are hardly any dormitories open to foreigners in Myanmar; single occupancy rates range from fifty to eighty percent of the cost of a double. Power cuts are commonplace in Myanmar, even in Yangon and Mandalay, and most (but not all) accommodation will have a generator to ensure that fans and air-conditioners work through the night. Avoid leaving gadgets plugged in during a power cut, as there may be a surge when the supply is restored.

With demand exceeding supply when it comes to budget rooms in places such as Yangon, Mandalay, Nyaungshwe (Inle Lake) and Nyaung U (Bagan), it’s wise to book ahead, particularly in peak season (November to February). It is not uncommon to see backpackers trudging around looking for an affordable room, and in a few cases having to settle for a mattress on a restaurant floor or in reception. Monasteries may also take in travellers looking for a bed, although they expect a donation in return.

Almost all accommodation includes breakfast, and it is almost always unadventurous by default – toast, egg, banana and instant coffee are the norm – but if you ask at reception the night before, many places can provide a local alternative.

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