What’s the cost of living in Myanmar?
The cost of living in Myanmar is quite low compared to Western standards, but expensive in comparison to other Asian destinations. The prices in Myanmar are more expensive than in Thailand, India, Cambodia, and Malaysia. And on top of this, there are additional ‘tourist taxes’ in the form of admission fees that foreigners are required to pay.
Prices in Myanmar
Now that you have an idea of the relative cost of travel in Burma, let’s break down the costs into transport, food prices, and other expenses.
Transport in Myanmar
Getting Around the City or Town in Myanmar
In the larger cities such as Yangon or Mandalay, you have the option of taking a regular public bus or a taxi. Buses are quite unreliable and it can be almost impossible to find out what the schedule is or where to actually wait for the bus. If you are persistent and are travelling on a tight budget, you can get a single ride for just a few kyat.
Taxis, on the other hand, are a little more unpredictable. In Myanmar, drivers don’t use their meter and it’s essential to agree on a price before getting inside. So, how much does it cost in Myanmar to take a taxi?
Well, it depends.
In Yangon, it shouldn’t cost for than MKK 4000 to MKK 5000 to get from one place to the other. Most drivers try to charge an extra one or two thousand, but it’s quite rare to find taxis that charge exorbitant prices. The best piece of advice is to ask at your hotel what the price should be and negotiate from that.
A quick warning, most of the taxis are in very old cars that are, well, falling to pieces. And don’t expect to be driving in comfort. There’s no air conditioning and the roads are very bumpy!
Travelling Long Distances in Myanmar
Travelling long distance is affordable if you can endure the long journey.
Regular buses leave the major cities to other parts of the country on a daily basis at all times of the day and night. The cost of a journey can be anywhere between MKK 6000 up to MKK 30000 depending on the distance and type of bus. It’s highly recommended to spend the extra to get a more comfortable bus, especially when the journey takes so long. You should search online to find the bus schedules and book the ticket in advance.
Trains are a popular way to get around Myanmar. However, they’re slower and more unreliable than taking the bus. Trains don’t go to every part of the country making travel more limited and the journey is at the mercy of bad weather and regular mechanical failure.
But, a train journey in Myanmar is very rewarding. If you do take the train, you’re going to be passing through some of the most beautiful scenery in all South East Asia. As you’re sat in the seat, the trains pass over tall bridges through the lush green mountains. The country certainly has some of the best scenic train journeys in the region.
So, how much money does it cost to take the train in Myanmar? The typical price range is between MKK 1000 up to MKK 10000 depending on the length of the journey and the class of carriage. A top piece of advice is to check the schedule at the station a day or two before you plan to travel.
The final way to get around Myanmar is by flying. This is the most expensive option, which lets you travel between major destinations faster. You can search online to find the flights and prices range from $80 up to $130 for a one-way ticket. A popular route for people who aren’t on a budget is to fly from Yangon to Bagan to Mandalay to Inle Lake and back to Yangon.
The food prices are comparable to those in other Southeast Asian countries. Expect to get a decent meal with a few drinks at a local restaurant for less than MKK 10000. The daily budget in Myanmar for food and drink shouldn’t be too high. And it’s not very expensive to enjoy the local Myanmar Beer in the bars and restaurants.
The cost of Myanmar Visa
The cost of getting your visa to Myanmar is quite high, especially when you’re familiar to the free visa on arrivals in other countries. When you apply for a visa, it’s a 28-day single entry visa and costs $50. Most nationalities are now eligible for the e-Visa that requires visitors to fill out an online form along with uploading a recent photograph. It’s also suggested that you don’t apply for it too far in advance as the validity varies between just one and three months. Getting the visa is probably one of the biggest things people complain about in regards to money and costs in Myanmar.
The hotel prices vary depending on which part of the country you’re visiting and the quality of accommodation. You should be able to find a comfortable place for around $30 per night. Cheaper options are available, but Myanmar isn’t exactly known for its cleanliness and comfort. Most hotels fall into the price range of between $25 and $60 a night. And the level of comfort and quality varies considerably between each one. You should try to get a hotel that has air conditioning at the very least as the temperatures are persistently hot during the day and night.
Other Costs in Myanmar
One of the other major costs to consider when travel budgeting in Myanmar are the endless entrance fees. As a foreigner, you have to pay to enter most pagodas and temples in the country. The Shwedagon Pagoda costs MKK 8000 to enter for tourists and a mandatory five-day pass for Bagan is MKK 25000. You should also expect to be faced with other fees such as a ‘photography fee’ or anything else they can think of.
A Foreigner even has to pay a small entrance fee to go inside some of the public parks whereas the locals don’t. Duel pricing can also be apparent in some parts of the country when it comes to shopping, transport, or pretty much anything else. It happens and you just need to anticipate and go with the flow. After all, in the long run, the amounts are relatively insignificant.
Myanmar Travel Cost Per Day / Daily Budget in Myanmar
The total Myanmar travel costs per day will be around the $50 mark for most tourists (not including long distance transport). If you’re here on a budget, you could probably get it down to around $30 to $40. In comparison, travelling to Thailand or other parts of South East Asia may cost a total of $40 per day to be in relative comfort or as little as $25 on a tighter budget.
Travel Budgeting for Myanmar
So, now that you have a rough idea of how much it costs to travel to Myanmar, let’s break down the costs of what you can expect to pay. We’ve already established that most people can visit for around $50 per day to cover accommodation and living costs. Below are the expected daily travel costs to Myanmar:
Accommodation - $25 to $60 per night
Food – Meal for one in a local restaurant with a drink – MKK 4000-8000
Drinks – Local Myanmar beer – MKK 1500 t0 MKK 3000
Bottle of water – MKK 1000
Taxis – MKK 3000 to MKK 10000 (depending on the distance)
Airport taxis – Price tends to be fixed and you should search online for information on the different fares.
Souvenirs – MKK 1000 up to MKK 10000
Admission fees in Yangon / Mandalay – MKK 300 up to MKK 10000
Admission to Bagan Archaeological Zone – MKK 25000
Long distance travel (for example Yangon to Bagan or Mandalay) using the bus – MKK 6000 to MKK 30000
Long distance trains – MKK 1000 to MK 10000
Domestic flights – Anywhere between $80 to $130
The Bottom Line
Accommodation, food and drink and getting around are affordable in Myanmar. Costs and fees that foreigners have to pay may seem endless but they don’t add up to that much. The bottom line is Myanmar feels a bit pricey if you’re familiar with the travel costs in Thailand and other neighbouring countries. But it’s worth it to experience this mystical travel destination.