Speak to any backpacker about Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and they’ll likely tell you it was their favourite country in Southeast Asia OR that they chose to boycott visiting on ethical grounds. If you do decide to visit, you’ll be pleased to hear that Myanmar is much easier, safer and more affordable to travel around than it was, even ten years ago!
But how much does it cost to travel in Myanmar?
While Myanmar wasn’t voted one of the cheapest countries to visit in Southeast Asia by our readers, it is still very kind on your wallet. Don’t expect your money to stretch as far as in Thailand or Vietnam but rest assured that you certainly won’t be spending anywhere near as much as somewhere like Singapore!
Check out our budget travel guide for hints and tips about saving money while travelling. Or, if you haven’t quite got your travel funds together yet, head on over to our how to save money for travel guide!
Suggested Budgets For Travelling In Myanmar
Shoestring Backpacker: $20-$40USD per day
Those of you on a shoestring budget will get by fine in Myanmar. Stick to dorm rooms, street food and avoid drinking too much if you want your money to last. If you are careful for most of your trip, even backpackers on the tightest budgets can afford a cheeky hot air balloon flight over Bagan!
Living It Large Backpacker: $40-$60USD per day
With just a little more cash to throw around, a living it large backpacker will be well at home in Myanmar. Staying in dorms will still be necessary for some of your trip but you can also afford to splurge on a private room now and again. You’ll be able to afford daily beers and as much food as you could ever want!
Flashpacker: $65+USD per day
If you are a true flashpacker, travelling on more than $65USD a day, then you’ll find almost nothing out of your price range in Myanmar. Private rooms will be your norm and you’ll have more food and drink than you can shake a stick at. You’ll be able to take plenty of tours around the country and even fly internally if you are short on time!
Cost Of Backpacking In Myanmar – Quick Answers!
- Cost of Street Food: 400-1,300K (30 cents – $1USD) per dish
- Cost of Local Food in a Restaurant: 2,600-10,000K ($2-$7USD)
- Cost of Western Food in a Restaurant: 5000-16,000K ($3.50-$10USD)
- Cost of Water: 300-500K (20 cents – 40 cents USD) per litre
- Cost of Beer: 2,600-6,700K ($2-$5USD)
- Cost of a Hostel Bed: 5,400-20,000K ($4-$15USD)
- Cost of a Private Room: 8,000-67,000 ($6-$50USD)
- Cost of a Tuk Tuk Ride: Starting from 200-500K (15 cents – 40 cents USD)
- Cost of Scooter Hire: 5,000-50,000K ($3.60-$36USD) a day
- Cost of Long Distance Buses: 6,000-30,000K ($4.50-$22USD)
Currency In Myanmar
The currency in Myanmar is the Kyat (pronounced (chee-yat). Over the last hundred and fifty years the currency has changed numerous times. Much like in the Philippines, those who were in charge of the country set their own currencies. The British brought the Indian Rupee with them during the 1800s and the Japanese reissued the Kyat during their WW2 occupation of the country. Since the 1950s, Myanmar’s third iteration of the Kyat has been going strong.
US dollars are widely accepted in Myanmar, especially in tourist areas. Be aware though, the further off the beaten track you get, the harder you’ll find it to spend USD! If you are making the bulk of your purchases in small, locally run stores or markets, then Kyat is the best currency to use!
While just a few years ago you wouldn’t have found any ATMs in Myanmar, that has now changed. All major cities and tourist hubs have ATMs that accept international cards and there are also money changers in most places. If you are exchanging USD into Kyat, bear in mind that the notes need to be in pristine condition! Bills with just one little crease in will be rejected.
Myanmar Kyat Currency Conversions
These conversions are correct as of August 2020. Assuming nothing drastic happens, these should give you a good idea what your money is worth in Myanmar!
- $1USD = 1,300K
- £1GBP = 1,700K
- €1EUR = 1,600K
How Much Does a Trip to Myanmar Cost?
Cost of Street Food in Myanmar
400-1,300K (30 cents – $1USD) per dish
Being surrounded by countries famous for their cuisine yet being relatively isolated in recent years has resulted in a delicious mash-up of street foods in Myanmar. With inspiration taken from Thailand, India, China, Laos and Bangladesh, the food in Myanmar is varied, delicious and plentiful.
There are reports of travellers getting ill after eating street food in Myanmar but these seem to be unsubstantiated or, as is more likely, just normal travellers tummy! If you are particularly concerned about the cleanliness of the street food cart you are ordering from, just wander down the road to find another place. They’re all over the place, especially in more touristy areas!
Cost of Restaurant Food in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great spot for foodies because even restaurants won’t break the bank! You can expect to find small, local haunts offering lunch for around 2600K ($2USD) and evening meals for 5400K ($4USD).
If you are looking for western food, or something a bit more classy, expect to be paying around 16,000K ($10USD) for a meal.
Cost of Water in Myanmar
300-500K (20 cents – 40 cents USD) per litre
Tap water is NOT safe to drink in Myanmar, even the locals avoid it if they can afford to! Thankfully, water is super cheap to buy, at only 300-500K per litre. You may get lucky in your accommodation and find that they have safe, filtered water available. If this is the case, make the most of it and fill up your reusable bottle before you head out for the day!
If you are interested in being a responsible traveller and reducing your plastic usage when travelling, consider getting yourself a filtered water bottle. These can be used to purify tap water and make it perfectly safe to drink! Not only do they save the planet but they also save you a butt load of cash over a long trip!
Cost of Beer in Myanmar
Traditionally, alcohol is not popular in Myanmar and in some more off the beaten track locations, you may not be able to find any booze at all! Despite this, the rise of tourism in recent years has led many enterprising locals to open up bars and start selling every backpacker’s favourite poison: beer.
Bars are not the only, nor the cheapest place to grab a tipple though. Beer from a shop in Myanmar is likely to set you back around 2600K ($2USD) but there are reports from travellers of it being closer to 1700K ($1.25USD) in smaller stores. Beer in a bar is going to be at the higher end of this estimate.
Cost of Accommodation in Myanmar
- Hostel Dorm (per night)
Pick up an old, dog-eared copy of The Lonely Planet, or jump on a travel blog that hasn’t been updated for a couple of years and you’ll find plenty of examples of people saying Myanmar is one of the most expensive places to sleep in Southeast Asia. This certainly used to be the case but as the country has opened up to tourists, plenty of locals have seen the advantage of having cheap beds on offer for backpackers!
Throughout most of the country, you can find a decent hostel dorm for as little as 7000K ($5USD) per night. In some of the more popular spots and major cities, you’ll be paying closer to the high end of this estimate.
- Hostel Double Room (per night)
Hostels in Myanmar usually give you the option of staying in the dorms or a private room. As is to be expected, a private room will set you back more than a dorm but if you can forgo the air conditioning and don’t mind sharing a bathroom, you’ll be able to pick up your own private room for as little as 8,000K ($6USD). In more popular areas or at busy times of year the price can rise A LOT so make sure you book in advance.
Booking in advance is actually pretty good advice for all your time in Myanmar. Whilst it goes against the grain for the carefree backpacker, booking ahead of time is a good idea in a country with a larger demand for beds!
- Double Hotel Room
Before hostels made it into the country, hotels and guesthouses were the only options for travellers to Myanmar. This meant they had to be as affordable as possible and are actually quite close to the cost of hostels.
Of course, on the high end, some hotels in Myanmar are silly money but no sillier than anywhere else in the region. If you wanted to splurge on a really swanky hotel in Southeast Asia, Myanmar might just be the place to do it!
Cost of Transport in Myanmar
Short Distance Transport
Starting from 1,500K ($1.10USD)
Taxis in Myanmar are one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to travel. While the majority of destinations in the main areas are within walking distance, there will always be occasions where you need to travel a little further afield. You can usually expect a 45 minute – 1 hour journey to clock in at around 7,000-8,000K ($5-$6USD).
Taxis probably won’t have metres in Myanmar but the drivers are usually very fair with their pricing. As with elsewhere in Southeast Asia, it has been known for foreigners to be charged more so you can always try your hand a haggling, just make sure you do so with a smile!
It is reasonably easy to hire a taxi for the entire day if you have a lot planned. This will start at around 5000K ($4USD) per hour, providing you hire them for at least 8 hours.
In Yangon or Mandalay, Grab operate which can take a lot of the stress out of hailing and haggling with a taxi!
- Tuk Tuk
Starting from 200-500K (15 cents – 40 cents USD) but prices rise quickly
Motorised tuk tuks are everywhere in Myanmar, especially in cities such as Yangon. Trying to estimate a price for a tuk tuk journey is about as difficult as guessing how many Tour de France winners have been successful without taking steroids…
As a general rule of thumb, you can expect your tuk tuk driver to quote nearly double the normal price, so come back in low, under what you actually intend to pay and work your way up from there. As always, remember that no matter how much money you think you have, the fact you can afford to travel probably means you have more than the locals. Don’t bargain too hard but likewise, don’t allow yourself to be ripped off every day!
- Scooter Hire
5,000-50,000K ($3.60-$36USD) a day
Riding a motorcycle in Myanmar is not as simple as in some of its neighbouring countries. It is impossible to ride a motorised bike in Bagan or Yangon without a special permit and good luck trying to get one of those…
That doesn’t mean that travelling by motorbike isn’t a good idea in Myanmar though! For just 5,000K (£3.60USD) a day, you can rent a cheap 125cc scooter and spend your time exploring some hidden spots!
Be aware that there are areas of Myanmar that are off-limits to tourists due to ongoing political issues which have resulted in violent clashes. These include; parts of the Rakhine region, parts of Sagaing, parts of Kachin and parts of the Shan region. Don’t worry, you can’t just stumble into these areas via motorcycle. You’ll be stopped at checkpoints way before you are in the danger zone and if you don’t have the proper documentation, you’ll be escorted away pretty sharpish!
500-1000K (40 cents – 80 cents USD) for a short journey
Trishaws are as common in Myanmar as rickshaws used to be in Vietnam. They are still used as the primary mode of transport for many locals today and you will see thousands of them about the country. Expect a short journey to set you back less than a dollar and don’t ask too much of the driver. Myanmar is notoriously hot and peddling a couple of tourists about on a sightseeing trip can’t be much fun!
It is worth being aware that as a traveller, you will automatically be charged more than a local. While it is still a good idea to haggle, don’t expect to get the same rate as someone who lives there.
100-300K (8 cents – 22 cents USD)
Local, short distance buses in Myanmar can be a bit of a minefield for travellers. While they are certainly cheap, with almost zero journeys costing more than 300K (22 cents), the buses are not the easiest thing to navigate. Most of the bus numbers, routes and destinations are written in Burmese, so unless you are confident all those hours on Duolingo have paid off, you may well end up miles from your intended destination!
That said, if you do know which bus to take or are with someone who does, they are a great cost-effective way to travel about the towns and cities!
Long Distance Transport
Long-distance buses in Myanmar are not only affordable but also some of the best buses travellers will find in Southeast Asia! VIP or Express buses will be the most expensive options but are still well within the budget of all but the most shoestring backpackers. Expect large reclining seats, bottled water, snacks and even a blanket! Remember to take an extra jumper as the air conditioning can be a little overpowering!
As with most buses in Southeast Asia, the best thing about taking long bus journeys in Myanmar is that they are overnight, saving you a shed load of dosh on accommodation costs. Just be prepared for some incredibly loud, terrible films played on full volume for the entire journey. Don’t forget your headphones!
As you get further off the tourist trail, you’ll notice that the quality of buses reduces dramatically. Don’t be surprised to find seats missing, sacks of grain precariously balanced or the odd animal roaming around the bus!
Train travel in Myanmar is not only very affordable but also a real adventure! The thin gauge tracks are bumpy, to say the least. Do not expect to get a good night’s rest if you are on one of the sleeper trains! As the trains go over bridges, they have to slow to a crawl. The infrastructure is so poor that trying to fly over the bridges at speed would likely see a derailment!
Don’t let that put you off though, the drivers know what they’re doing. They’ve been doing it for years! Train travel is a great way to watch the country change as you slowly chug along the tracks.
The cost of train travel depends on the class of cabin you are in and the route you are taking. The cheapest carriages are full of hard little benches with as many people as possible crammed in. At the high-end, you’ll find plush beds, nice linen and sometimes even your own private bathroom!
Up until 2014, foreigners were charged much more for train travel than locals but this is no longer the case. If someone tries to tell you it is, they are lying and probably trying to rip you off!
Be aware, train travel is even slower than bus travel and that’s before you factor in almost inevitable delays. As a general rule, you should add two hours onto the predicted length of your train journey! If you are stuck for time, trains probably aren’t your best bet.
Internal flights in Myanmar are not cheap. Especially when compared to other countries in Southeast Asia where low-cost airlines such as AirAsia are ubiquitous.
While flying in Myanmar is not cost-effective, it is much faster than travelling by train or bus. However, remember that you’ll also have to pay for accommodation at your destination if you fly, which adds even more to the expense.
If you are short on time but have plenty of cash to throw about, flying is a great way to travel around this diverse country. Safety records are not the best for domestic flights in Myanmar but they are improving year on year. There is not one particular airline that is better than the rest, it really all depends on where you are going and when.
One last thing to be aware of when flying in Myanmar is that the plane schedules seem to be guidelines at best. Often planes will take off between thirty minutes before they are due to leave and up to a few hours after. It’s always worth checking at the airport as soon as you arrive to see if they have any more up to date information than you’ve already been given.
Cost Of Activities In Myanmar
Even though Myanmar hasn’t been back on the backpacker circuit for long, there is plenty of amazing things to see and do! This is by no means a full list of activities but will give you a rough idea of how much the most popular trips cost.
To give yourself some inspiration, make sure you check out these popular Myanmar itineraries to help plan your visit!
Shwedagon Pagoda – 10,000K ($7.50USD) entry fee
Located in Yangon, this golden temple literally glitters day and night. A visit here will set you back around $7.50USD and allows you to visit relics of four previous Buddhas, including 8 hairs from the founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha.
U Bien Bridge – Free
At just over a kilometre long, U Bien Bridge in Amarapura is believed to be the longest and oldest teakwood bridge in the world. For the best photos, arrive at sunrise or sunset and get some amazing snaps of this old structure, seemingly floating atop mirror still waters. Trust me, your Instagram followers will love it!
Bagan – 25,000K ($18USD) entry fee
Exploring the amazing Bagan temple complex is a rite of passage for backpackers visiting Myanmar. Entry to the area costs around $18USD for a 5-day pass which gives you access to more temples than you ever knew existed.
With over 2000 temples to choose from, unless you’re superman, you’ll be hard-pressed to visit even a fraction of them in just 5 days. To make sure you get the most out of your time here, you can jump on a hot air balloon (see below) for an all-encompassing view of the area. Or, for those of you on more of a budget, renting an e-bike (essentially an electric moped) costs around 6,000-8,000K ($4-$6USD) per day.
Exploring on your own, via e-bike is one of the best ways to get up close and personal with Bagan’s many temples!
Hot Air Balloon Over Bagan – 350,000 – 680,000K ($255-$500USD) per person
Let’s face it, getting a hot air balloon over Bagan is not a cheap way to spend an hour. Prices start at around $255USD but can rise as high as $500USD if you opt for the higher-end experience. You can expect pick up from your accommodation, breakfast by the temples and potentially refreshments in air. But the main draw of this trip isn’t the food and drink (although we never say no to food), it’s watching the sunrise over more than 2000 temples that make up this epic complex.
The price is high but the memories will last a lifetime! – Okay, enough of that cheesy rubbish now.
- Kalaw to Inle Lake Trek – 30,000-70,000K ($22-$50USD)
Trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake is one of the most popular treks in Myanmar and touted as one of the most beautiful in the world. This 50-60 kilometre trek will see you traverse gentle rolling hills and valleys full of life. It ends with a boat ride across the lake itself. You’ll sleep in local homestays or, if you’re really lucky, in a functioning monastery! Don’t expect facilities to be top-notch, this is not the Camino de Santiago after all. Toilets will be basic squat jobs and showers will be a bucket full of cold water!
Some backpackers do take on this route independent of any organised tour so it is possible. Just make sure you do your research before you embark!
Inle Lake – 15,000K ($11USD) entrance fee
Inle Lake is one of Myanmar’s premier traveller destinations and for good reason. The surface of the second largest lake in Myanmar is mirror smooth and the rugged mountains that encircle the lake really add to the majesty of the scene.
- Boat Tours – 25,000 – 40,000K ($18-$30USD)
One of the best ways to see Inle Lake is to get up close and personal with a boat tour. These are run by locals and provide a great opportunity to not only see the sights by to also experience a slice of local life!
Be aware, many of these tours stop at shops along the way and the guides can be a little pushy when trying to get you to buy stuff. You can specify when booking your tour, that you don’t want to be taken to any of these spots but at the end of the day, it’s up to the boat crew where you end up going!
Most other temples charge $1USD entry
Throughout Myanmar, you’ll find temples dotted about all over the show. Most of these have a small entry fee of around $1USD but to be honest after you’ve been to Bagan you’ll be pretty templed out for a while!
Where to next? Check out the average costs for Southeast Asia here!
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