Myanmar travel costs and prices: How much does traveling in Myanmar cost?
Myanmar has a reputation of being a very expensive travel destination. Let’s start with the good news: That’s bullshit. We spent a month traveling in Myanmar and kept close track of what we spent. Of course, you can drop a lot of money in Myanmar if you stay at luxury accommodations, get chauffeured around by a private driver, and eat nothing but Western food.
But you can just as easily travel through Myanmar on a shoestring as a backpacker.
Public transport is cheap, so is food at local restaurants, and simple accommodation won’t cost you an arm or a leg either.
We took the middle road. We stayed at decent mid-range hotels, often ate at simple restaurants, but every now and again we indulged in life’s little luxuries.
In this post, we reveal how high our travel expenses for Myanmar really were. You’ll also learn everything there is to know about money in Myanmar.
Paying in Myanmar: kyat or dollars?
Money used to be an extremely complicated affair in Myanmar. Up until a few years ago there were no ATMs in the country and you had to carry around a huge stack of US dollars in cash everywhere you went.
Fortunately, things have changed since then, so there’s no need to lose any sleep over money anymore.
The local currency: kyat
The official local currency is the kyat (pronounced ‘chut’). Working out the conversion rate in your head isn’t all that simple because 1,000 kyat are worth about 70 euro cents.
You’ll probably come across the following bills quite a bit during your time in Myanmar: 50 kyat, 100 kyat, 200 kyat, 500 kyat, 1,000 kyat, and 5,000 kyat.
10,000 kyat notes were also recently introduced and most ATMs dispense them nowadays. We’ve never held a 10,000 kyat in our hands because it’s only recently that they’ve become so widespread.
There are even smaller-denomination bills and coins in circulation. But they’re worth so little that you’re probably not going to be seeing them around. We certainly didn’t.
As you can tell by now, the bills aren’t particularly valuable. The largest common banknote denomination of 5,000 kyat is only worth about 3.50 euros. So get used to the idea of having a huge wad of cash on you all the time.
Your best bet is to do what the locals do: Fold the notes together and carry them around loose in your pocket, the smaller notes on the outside, the larger ones on the inside. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that for safety reasons, we recommend buying this travel security pouch that you can just clip to the back of your waistband.
The second currency: US dollars, exchanging money in Myanmar
For the longest time, US dollars were essential if you wanted to travel to Myanmar. That’s definitely not the case anymore.
Hotel bills or invoices for domestic flights are still issued in dollars, but you can almost always settle them in kyat nowadays. The exchange rates quoted at the hotels were always fair.
Of course it still can’t hurt to carry around a few dollars just in case. But please take note that all bills have to be completely immaculate. Otherwise they won’t be accepted. And when we say immaculate, we’re not kidding around. A slight crease or a dot of ink is enough and no one will take the bill off your hands.
Euros are less common. Even so, you can exchange euros at every bank and quite a few hotels.
Withdrawing money in Myanmar
Nowadays, there’s a dense network of ATMs in Myanmar. In major cities and tourist hot spots you’ll find one on almost every corner. We never had any trouble finding one in smaller towns either.
Annoyingly enough, withdrawals are limited to 300,000 kyat each time. Don’t forget, that’s 60 notes worth 5,000 kyat each! That’s probably the maximum amount of bills that fit through the ATM slot. But withdrawing money several times in a row is no problem.
The drawback is that you get charged withdrawal fees each time. Local ATM providers charge 5,000 kyat per withdrawal, and some machines even charge 6,500 kyat. Add to that the fees charged by your home bank. That means you’ll end up paying a considerable amount on fees with all those withdrawals.
Our tip: We always take the two credit cards with us on our trips that allow us to withdraw money for free.
Paying by credit card in Myanmar
Paying by credit card is becoming increasingly common in Myanmar. We were able to pay our hotel bill by credit card almost everywhere we stayed. There were never any additional fees.
You can use your credit card to pay at travel agencies and good restaurants.
Our Myanmar travel expenses
That’s all the general information about money in Myanmar we have for now. So let’s get down to the numbers. How expensive is traveling to Myanmar without a package deal and what can you expect to pay when you get there?
Our entire travel expenses in Myanmar
We were in Myanmar for a total of 33 days. But we’ve gone ahead and calculated the costs for a time frame of 28 days, or four weeks, to give you a better idea of how much it costs to stay in Myanmar for 2, 3, or 4 weeks.
The following costs are always for the both of us:
Cost of 28 nights’ accommodation: 1,002 euros / approx. 36 euros per night
Cost of food and drink: 392 euros / approx. 14 euros per day
Costs for admission fees: 96.60 euros
Costs for 5 guided tours: 173 euros
Cost of transport: 374 euros
Total travel expenses: 2,038 euros
We spent about 2,000 euros for four weeks. If you apply our budget to a two-week trip, it should cost you about 1,000 euros, or 1,500 euros for 3 weeks – and don’t forget, that’s for two people. You can’t really call that an expensive destination, can you?
OK, we admit it, we cheated a bit… There are two major expenditures we didn’t count. But they’re not exactly representative and they’d only skew the numbers here unnecessarily.
We spent 660 dollars on our balloon ride over Bagan and splurged on a private driver for the trip from Mrauk U to Bagan to the tune of 400 euros.
To help make our costs even more transparent, we’ll break them down even further.
Cost of hotels in Myanmar
As we mentioned earlier, we stayed at reasonable mid-range hotels with a private bathroom, comfortable beds and air-conditioning. We paid an average of 36 euros per night for that.
But since October isn’t quite peak season for traveling, keep in mind that hotel prices might be a bit higher during the main season from November to February. Even so, these numbers should give you a rough impression of the average cost of accommodation.
If you want to spend even less and are satisfied with a lower level of comfort, then you can get a budget hotel or hostel room starting at around 20 euros. And if you want a bit more luxury, you have to calculate a bit extra.
If you’re planning a trip to Myanmar, please make sure to read our post on where to stay in Myanmar first. Because that’s where we talk about all the places we stayed at in greater detail and tell you which hotels we highly recommend and which you should give a wide berth.
Here’s a quick overview of the prices:
Cost of food and drink in Myanmar
In the beginning we still tried to make the effort to keep close track of what we spent on food and drink. But since we averaged out at around 20,000 kyat (14 euros) per day and we’re a bit lazy by nature anyway, we stopped counting at some point.
Breakfast is included at all hotels, so we only had to buy something to eat for lunch and dinner.
Here’s a brief overview of common prices for food and drink in Myanmar:
Bottle of water (1 liter): 200-500 kyat (15 to 35 cents)
Bottle of beer at a restaurant (0.65 liters): 2,000 to 3,000 kyat (1.40 to 2.10 euros)
Simple, local meal at a restaurant: 2,000 to 4,000 kyat (1.50 to 3.00 euros)
Western food at an upscale restaurant: 6,000 to 12,000 kyat (4 to 9 euros)
Costs for admission in Myanmar
Many of the historical sites charge admission. But all in all, prices are very reasonable.
We paid the following admission fees in Myanmar (prices per person):
Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon: 8,000 kyat (6 euros)
Sule Pagoda in Yangon: 3,000 kyat (2 euros)
Bago: 10,000 kyat (7 euros)
Golden Rock: 6,000 kyat (4 euros)
Kawgoon Cave in Hpa-An: 3,000 kyat (2 euros)
Mrauk U: 5,000 kyat (3.50 euros)
Bagan: 25,000 kyat (17.50 euros)
Thanboddhay Pagoda in Monywa: 3,000 kyat (2 euros)
Mandalay Hill: 1,000 kyat (0.70 euros)
Mingun: 5,000 kyat (3.50 euros)
That makes a total of just about 50 euros per person.
Normally we would have also had to pay an admission fee of 10,000 kyat (7 euros) per person for our visit to Amarapura and Inwa. But the ticket office was closed when we got there, so we didn’t have to pay.
Some attractions also charge you for a photo license, but the 200-300 kyat fees don’t really make much difference to the overall costs.
Costs for guided tours in Myanmar
Now and again, we indulged in the luxury or hiring a guide or a driver to explore the sights. It isn’t all that expensive and it’s definitely worthwhile, at least once in a while.
We went on the following tours in Myanmar:
Tuk-tuk tour through Bago (4 hours): 15,000 kyat (11 euros)
Tuk-tuk tour in the area surrounding Hpa-An (10 hours): 25,000 kyat (18 euros)
Tour by car of the area surrounding Mawlamyaing (4 hours): 35,000 kyat (25 euros)
Tour by car from Mandalay to Monywa (8 hours): 115,000 kyat (80 euros)
Tour to the Chin villages from Mrauk U (10 hours): 57.000 kyat (40 euros)
We shared the trip to the Chin villages with another couple. We did all the other trips on our own.
Cost for transport in Myanmar
The costs of getting from one town to the next in Myanmar aren’t particularly high. We tried out almost every mode of transportation available on our trip (bus, train, boat, plane, taxi), so we got a pretty good idea of how much things cost.
Train from Yangon to Bago: 1.000 kyat (0.70 euros) per person
Bus from Bago to the Golden Rock: 7.000 kyat (5 euros) per person
Bus from the Golden Rock to Hpa-An: 7.000 kyat (5 euros) per person
Bus from Hpa-An to Mawlamyaing: 1.000 kyat (0.70 euros) per person
Bus from Mawlamyaing to Yangon: 10.000 kyat (7 euros) per person
Flight from Yangon to Sittwe: 145.000 kyat (100 euros) per person
Car from Sittwe to Mrauk U: 65,000 kyat (45 euros) for two people. We shared the car with another couple and split the costs four ways.
Private driver from Mrauk U to Bagan: 350 euros for two people. In theory, the car could easily fit two more people.
Cost of bus tickets
Bus tickets are cheap in Myanmar. Surprisingly enough, the price difference between normal buses and luxury buses is minimal. Our bus from Mawlamyaing to Yangon was a real luxury vehicle with just three huge seats per row and an entertainment system in each seat. The tickets for this bus cost only about 2 euros more than for a normal bus.
Make sure you book a ‘2+1’ bus ticket when you book your trip. 2+1 refers to the number of seats per row and means that there are only 3 seats in a row.
Cost of train tickets
Train tickets are even cheaper than bus tickets, but we’d only recommend train travel for the most foolhardy adventurers. A short trip is certainly an experience, but we’d definitely recommend the taking the bus for longer journeys.
We took the train from Yangon to Bago. The two-hour trip cost 1,000 kyat (0,70 Euro) per person in the first class (upper class).
Cost of domestic flights
Domestic flights are the fastest way to get from A to B in Myanmar. We booked a domestic flight from Yangon to Sittwe and paid 115 dollars per person.
That’s also about the normal rate for a domestic flight. Depending on the route, the flights always cost around 100 dollars (+/- 30 dollars), regardless of whether you book well in advance or one day before the flight.
Cost of taxis
In city traffic, you have the choice between taxis, tuk-tuks, motorcycle taxis, and maybe even an ox cart.
A taxi ride in Yangon costs between 2,000 kyat within the city and 7,000 kyat from the city to the airport or bus station. Prices are similar in every city, and we were never quoted an inflated price.
Cost of renting mopeds and bicycles
In many parts of Myanmar, you can rent a scooter and explore the area on your own. This shouldn’t break the bank either.
We paid the following prices:
Scooter in Mandalay (8 hours): 8,000 kyat (6 euros)
E-bike in Bagan (1 day): 8,000 kyat (6 euros) for two people, 6,000 (4 euros) kyat for one person
Bicycle in Mrauk U (1 day): 2,000 kyat (1.40 euros)
Gas is also very cheap in Myanmar and costs less than 50 cents per liter.
Prices for private drivers
Private drivers are relatively expensive in Myanmar. We paid 350 euros from Mrauk U to Bagan, but not many drivers go that route so we were paying a premium. We spent 14 hours in a relatively new car with two drivers who took turns at the wheel. That puts the high price in perspective a bit.
It’s not just the fuel costs and the driver you have to pay for after all. The car also costs a pile of money and you mustn’t forget that the tourist season only lasts for about 5 months. Drivers have to earn most of their yearly income and pay off the car in that short span of time.
You don’t pay as much for less demanding routes of course. Costs usually run up to about 150 to 200 euros per day.
Cost of flights to Myanmar
The cheapest option to get from Europe to Myanmar is a flight with Emirates including a stopover in Dubai. Depending on the season and the booking period, it costs between 500 and 1,000 euros per person. Costs of other flights to Myanmar are comparable to those of flights to other countries in the region.
Emirates always lists the best price on its website. That’s really convenient because it saves you having to scour through fare comparison sites.
Except for the connection offered by Emirates, there aren’t that many options for a fast and cheap to flight to Myanmar.
How much it costs to travel to Myanmar – our conclusion
Myanmar is definitely not an expensive destination. No idea where this misconception comes from, but it just isn’t true. We got by on a budget of about 70 euros per day for the two of us without having to cut back on anything at all.
And if you really wanted to, you could easily travel through Myanmar for half that price. So from now on, excessive travel costs is no longer an excuse not to visit Myanmar.
What experiences have you had with travel expenses in Myanmar? Did you think it was an expensive country? Please let us know in the comments below!