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Riding the train in Myanmar | © Alexander Mueller/Flickr
Riding the train in Myanmar | © Alexander Mueller/Flickr

A Budget Traveler's Guide to Myanmar

Picture of Tiffany Teng
Updated: 15 April 2017
Myanmar is slightly more expensive than its Southeast Asian neighbors, but still cheaper than Europe. Here are some free attractions, budget-friendly bars and restaurants, and public parks to explore. Taking the cheaper options have the added benefit of allowing you to experience local culture along the way.

Where to Stay

There are a slew of comfy, colorful hostels in downtown Yangon near Sule Pagoda, Chinatown, or even a little further north in Sanchaung. However, if dorm beds aren’t your thing, you can also check out Clover City Center Hotel and its neighbor, Clover City Center Plus for a clean, pleasant stay in the heart of the action. Wayfarer’s Rest is another option in Chinatown that is clean, budget friendly, and hospitable.

Where to Eat

For local food in Yangon, try Pansuriya for some tasty curries served with an array of vegetables, traditional salads, and fresh drinks. From tea to coffee to juices, you will satiate your Burmese food craving here. Feel Myanmar has an extensive menu of traditional food. You could order a few dishes to share without breaking your wallet. The branch on Pyidaungzu Street is the original restaurant, but there are several locations around town.

Where to Drink

The first place to start drinking in Yangon is 19th Street. Kosan serves mojitos for less than $2, and at barbecue restaurants you can get glasses of Myanmar Beer for about the same price. For a fun night, check out 7th Joint, a Jamaican-themed bar that often has open mic nights on Tuesdays, live music shows, and salsa nights. Though it sometimes gets crowded and smokey, this place offers cheap drinks and entertainment.

Sunset boat ride on the Irrawaddy River | ©  Roderick Elme/Flickr

Sunset boat ride on the Irrawaddy River | © Roderick Elme/Flickr

What to See

Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple is a reclining Buddha north of Kandawgyi Lake, and is free to visit. The giant Buddha is lying down, and his feet are carved with symbols. Many visitors come to pay their respects.

If you head up to Bagan, grab a motorbike from the hotel or nearby rental shop and ride around hitting up all of the temples. Motorbikes are the best way to get around Bagan, and you’ll be glad for the freedom to weave in and out of traffic. Then, take a sunset boat ride on the Irrawaddy River.

What to Do

If you’re a nature-lover, head up to Kalaw in Shan State for a two- or three-day trek through the hills for less than $30 a day, all inclusive.

Another place that’s great for outdoor fun is Pyin Oo Lwin. Here, you can find gorgeous British colonial-style homes, pony cart rides, a botanical garden, and strawberry farms. A local favorite is December Farm, serving delicious local food. You can wander around the farm looking at livestock and strawberry plants.

Where to Go on a Day Trip

From Yangon, popular day trips are to Dala and Bagoe. Dala is a village a short ferry ride away from the city’s Pansodan ferry terminal, and Bago is about an hour away by train. In Dala, you can rent bikes to explore the village, where you will see cows, modest homes, and greenery. The train to Bago is breathtaking because you pass through many villages, rice fields and farms, all of which are vibrant and a stark contrast to Yangon. In Bago you can visit the Snake Temple, a cheroot (cigar) factory, and a couple of other pagodas.

How to Get Around

There are several ways to get around in Myanmar, but in most places a taxi is the most convenient. Public transportation has yet to become efficient, except overnight buses to major tourist destinations. These will usually set you back around $20, and taxi prices will vary depending on the city.