MYANMAR

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HOW TO EXPLORE MYANMAR IN 28 DAYS

Our guide to travelling around beautiful Myanmar on a budget – how we did it, where we stayed and what we thought

19 THINGS WE LEARNED ABOUT MYANMAR

We hadn’t planned on visiting Myanmar, but we’re so glad we did

BEGUILING BAGAN

The beautiful, mystical temples and pagodas of this ancient and spiritual city

THE BOAT TO MANDALAY

Along the Irrawaddy River to Mandalay – Myanmar’s charming second city

FIRST CLASS TO HSIPAW

Discovering the real Myanmar via one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys

 

WHERE WE’VE STAYED

 

YANGON

Motherland Inn 2
Motherland Inn 2

Motherland Inn 2

Cost
$35 per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating **1/2
Friendliness  4 Cleanliness 2 Location 3 Comfort 3 Facilities 3 Food 2 Value for money 2

What we thought
Very much a backpacker place. Fairly basic all round and not in a great location – a good taxi ride away from downtown. They also insist on US dollars for payment – the only time in our four-week stay in Myanmar where such a request was made. Friendly and helpful staff, though.

Website

Trip Advisor reviews

 

BAGAN

Saw Nyein San Guest House
Saw Nyein San Guest House

Saw Nyein San Guest House

Nights
3

Cost
49,000 kyat per night 

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness 5 Cleanliness 5 Location 4 Comfort 4 Facilities 4 Food 4 Value for money 4

What we thought
Almost perfect in every way. A lovely owner and really helpful/friendly staff – this is one of the few places we’ve stayed in where we’d revisit a destination just to stay in the accommodation again. It doesn’t look much from the outside but what you get are spotless rooms, people who really care about their guests and actually enjoy doing it, too. Highly recommended.

Trip Advisor reviews

MANDALAY

Smart Hotel
Smart Hotel

Smart Hotel

Nights
3

Cost
$35 per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness 4 Cleanliness 3 Location 4 Comfort 4 Facilities 4 Food 4 Value for money 4

What we thought
Slightly dated room aside, we enjoyed our stay here and would definitely go back if we returned to Mandalay. The breakfast buffet up in the Sky Bar is especially good. It’s also located close to 78th Street with its morning and night markets.

Website

Trip Advisor reviews

PYIN OO LWIN

Golden Gate Resort
Golden Gate Resort

Golden Gate Resort

Nights
2

Cost
$27 per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast

Rating **
Friendliness 2 Cleanliness 2 Location 3 Comfort 2 Facilities 2 Food 2 Value for money 2

What we thought
Bit of a strange one really. This place gets rave reviews on Trip Advisor but we just didn’t get it. Apart from the girl on reception we found the staff to be indifferent, and there seemed to be a lack of interest in making us feel welcome. Our room was filthy and we even had to endure the bizarre ritual of one of the staff knocking on our bedroom door at 8:30 pm to ask us what we wanted for breakfast – on our first night we ordered omelette, coffee etc for 08:00 – when we arrived for that time the food and drink was already there, stone cold and with no staff around. As we said – bizarre.

Website

HSIPAW

Tai House Resort
Tai House Resort

Tai House Resort

Nights
3

Cost
$37 per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating ****
Friendliness 5 Cleanliness 4 Location 4 Comfort 4 Facilities 3 Food 4 Value for money 4

What we thought
Owned and staffed by local Shan people, who are just delightful, this lovely guest house was a pleasure to stay in. If anything they were just a little too eager to please but they obviously care about their guests. Example – we used their complimentary bicycles for two days, which were wheeled out, seats adjusted and prepared ready to go for us without question. Hiking and other tours can be arranged directly with them, too. Highly recommended.

Website

Trip Advisor reviews

KALAW

Thitaw 2 Guest House

Nights 2

Cost
$22 per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast

Rating ***
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 3 Location 3 Comfort 3 Facilities 2 Food 4 Value for money 3

What we thought
We stayed in the (considerably) cheaper option of the two types of room available, which meant bare brick walls and some of nature’s less attractive creatures visiting us during the night. But the bed was comfortable and the breakfast was great and somewhat unique – including home made bread served in a three-layered tiffin box.

Trip Advisor reviews

INLE LAKE

Zawgi Inn (Nyaungshwe)
Zawgi Inn

Zawgi Inn

Nights 2

Cost 36,000 kyat per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, fan, wifi

Rating ***1/2
Friendliness 4 Cleanliness 3 Location 4 Comfort 3 Facilities 4 Food 3 Value for money 3

What we thought
The two things that raised this place above average for us was the (relatively) speedy wifi (which we really did need) and the helpful owner. It’s also situated in a side street away from much of the noise from town..

Facebook page

Trip Advisor reviews

 

HPA-AN

Hotel Glory
Hotel Glory

Hotel Glory

Nights 2

Cost $40 per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wi-fi

Rating **
Friendliness 1 Cleanliness 2 Location 2 Comfort 2 Facilities 3 Food 2 Value for money 2

What we thought
Oh dear. It really doesn’t take too much to raise a smile now and then but the manageress and majority of staff in this over-priced hotel clearly aren’t interested. Let’s just say that we weren’t exactly made to feel welcome – particularly after we asked them to clear our room of an infestation of small black flies. And the day trip out to the caves we booked through them was just chaotic and overpriced (so it turned out). Hpa-an’s not exactly blessed with quality accommodation but do yourself  a favour and avoid this place.

Trip Advisor reviews

MAWLAMYINE

OK Hotel
OK Hotel

OK Hotel

Nights 2

Cost
45,000 kyat per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating **1/2
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 3 Location 3 Comfort 2 Facilities 3 Food 2 Value for money 2

What we thought
In some ways, this is in a great location – right on the riverfront opposite one of the jetties, and the morning market is right on your doorstep. But that also means it gets very noisy from about 5am onwards. Our room was also so tiny we struggled to take any of our stuff out of our backpacks so we checked out after two nights, even though we’d booked for four.

Facebook page

Trip Advisor reviews

MAWLAMYINE

Cinderella Hotel
Cinderella Hotel

Cinderella Hotel

Nights
1

Cost
69,000 kyat per night

What that included
Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi

Rating ***
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 4 Location 3 Comfort 4 Facilities 4 Food 3 Value for money 2

What we thought
We booked into here after checking out of the OK Hotel so we could have more space and other creature comforts. Our room was large, clean and comfortable and the hotel itself is aesthetically very pleasing. We initially thought that the service was top-notch, too – but we soon began to find it a bit over-the-top and contrived. If they just concentrated on doing the basics superbly well and bothered less about kitting their breakfast waiters in white gloves then we’d have a real gem on our hands.

Website

Trip Advisor reviews

YANGON

15th Street @ Downtown Yangon
15th Street @ Downtown Yangon

15th Street @ Downtown Yangon

Nights
1

Cost 65,000 kyat per night

What that included Bed & breakfast, air-con, wifi only

Rating *** 
Friendliness 3 Cleanliness 4 Location 3 Comfort 3 Facilities 2 Food 2 Value for money 2

What we thought
In a good location but overpriced. Small, comfortable room with no windows and a fairly basic breakfast.

Website

TripAdvisor reviews

IMAGES OF MYANMAR

BALLOONS OVER BAGAN

While I’m sure the $320 per person dawn balloon flight over Bagan’s majestic temples is an experience to be cherished, you can also watch the spectacle for free from one of several temples. Just don’t expect to be there on your own.
Read more at Beguiling Bagan.

FRIENDLY LOCALS

The people of Myanmar were, without doubt, the friendliest we’ve encountered anywhere. It’s one of the reasons the country left an indelible mark on both of us.

GOKTEIK BRIDGE

It’s a 115-year-old bridge over a deep gorge that audibly creaks as the train passes ever-so-slowly over its tracks, while passengers gaze out in awe over the sheer 100-metre drop on either side. Worth the ticket price alone!
Read more at First class to Hsipaw.

IRRAWADDY RIVER

The eleven-hour boat journey from Bagan to Mandalay is not-to-be-missed in our opinion. It might take longer than the bus journey but there’s no competition when it comes to sights and comfort.
Read more at The boat to Mandalay.

KYAUK KALAP PAGODA

One of many staggering sights surrounding the otherwise hum-drum town of Hpa-an, Kyauk Kalap pagoda sits atop a rocky outcrop which rises from an artificial lake.

SADAN CAVE

Filled with Buddha statues and pagodas, Sadan Cave, near Hpa-an, can be traversed on foot from one end to the other. There’s a bonus in store when you arrive at the exit, too where boatmen are waiting to take you back to the entrance car park by longboat through tranquil countryside.

THANAKA PASTE

Made from ground bark, thanaka cools the skin and protects the wearer against sunburn and mosquito bites. And, judging by the variety of patterns we saw it’s also something of a fashion statement for many.

THANBYUZAYAT WAR CEMETERY

A particularly poignant moment for us was when we visited this cemetery on Remembrance Day. It contains the graves of hundreds of mainly British and Commonwealth soldiers killed by the Japanese at the Burmese end of the Death Railway, made famous by the book and film, Bridge Over The River Kwai.

TEA LEAF SALAD

Not your average salad, this! A bitter, sour and spicy creation based on fermented or pickled tea leaves. By the time they’ve added garlic, sesame seeds, peanuts, cabbage, tomatoes and beans and mixed it all together you’re confronted by probably the tastiest salad you’ve had in your life.

TREKKING AROUND HSIPAW

Hsipaw is another town with outstanding walking possibilities. This gorgeous walk to a nearby waterfall was one of the highlights.
Read more at First class to Hsipaw.

U-BEIN BRIDGE

Situated on the outskirts of Mandalay, it’s one of Myanmar’s big tourist draws, particularly at sunset. We hired a local fisherman to take us out on his boat to get a closer look during sunrise, when locals begin to make their way across the bridge in both directions.

WIN SEIN TAW YA

At 180 metres in length, it was the world’s largest reclining Buddha statue when we visited. But it’s already set to be eclipsed by the 200-metre statue being constructed on the same site. Situated south of Mawlamyine in Mon State.

MORE ON MYANMAR

Myanmar’s official tourism website

A comprehensive guide to travelling in Myanmar

An excellent resource for Myanmar and the rest of SE Asia

The indispensable guide for budget travellers

EXPLORE THE WORLD WITH US

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