The world knows that South East Asia is a backpacker’s paradise…and Myanmar follows the rule…well, mostly. While food, activities and tours within Myanmar were inexpensive, getting to the country from India was almost as expensive as reaching Europe. I spent about 50% of the total cost of the trip on flights…from India to Myanmar and within Myanmar. My one week trip cost me less than USD 1200, including flights, accommodation, tours, entrance fee and food. Here is what the expense sheet looks like….
I entered Myanmar at Mandalay and exited at Yangon. There are no direct flights from India and hence, I chose to fly the ones via Bangkok. My flight Mumbai – Bangkok – Mandalay and return flight Yangon – Bangkok – Mumbai cost me ~ USD 520 in economy class (Bangkok Airways).
Total international flight cost: USD 520
Internal Transport (Bus/Flight)
I mostly took buses to commute from one city to the other. They were frequent and much more affordable. My bus from Mandalay to Bagan cost me USD 16.
The overnight bus from Bagan to Nyung Shwe/Lake Inle cost me ~ USD 30. I also flew internally from Heho/Lake Inle to Yangon. This one way ticket cost me ~ USD 100.
Total internal transport cost: USD 146
Day trips…Car/Bike/Boat Rentals
Bagan: I rented an e-bike for two and a half days to explore Bagan as per my whims and fancies. For half a day, the medium sized bike cost me ~USD 4 and for the full day it cost me ~USD 7.
Lake Inle: I rented a car with a driver to take me to the Kekku pagoda at the base of the Shan hills near Lake Inle. This trip cost me ~ USD 55. I also did the full day boat tour to South Inle Lake i.e Sankar village. This trip cost me USD 65.
The trips included pick and drop from the hotel (by taxi/tuk tuk) and were private trips. I shared both these trips with a friend and hence, ended up bearing only half the cost i.e USD 60.
Total rent cost: USD 63
I used a taxi in Mandalay and Yagon for to and fro transfers from the airport and for a little bit of sight seeing. In Mandalay, the taxi ride from the airport to the city, in a shared taxi cost me ~USD 4. In Yangon, the taxi ride from the airport to Shwedagon pagoda and back cost me ~USD 15.
I also used the tuk tuk in Bagan and Lake Inle to ferry me around the city/bus stop and spent ~ USD 5 for 3 trips.
Total taxi cost: USD 24
Hotels are more expensive that what you would expect them to be, especially when compared to the rest of South East Asis. I chose to stay in mid range accommodation throughout my trip.
In Bagan, I stayed at Ostello Bello Hostel, which is one of the best hostels that I have ever stayed in. I paid ~ USD 75 for three nights in a three bed dorm here, including breakfast and free sunrise and sunset tours. While this might seem expensive for South East Asia, trust me, it was worth every penny! The hostel staff was very friendly and helpful, breakfast was good, rooms were clean and it had a warm vibe that made it feel like home.
At Lake Inle, I stayed at Hotel Brilliant after reading a couple of blogs that had recommended the place. I spent ~USD 120 for two nights for a double room, including breakfast. The room was large and so was the bathroom. The staff helped me plan my day and arranged day trips for me. I was allowed to check in 4 am at no extra cost. Thumbs up for the property! I shared this room with a friend and hence paid only USD 60 for the two nights.
Total accommodation cost: USD 135
The government charges a fee of USD 10 at Bagan for entering the monument area. Lake Inle to has an entrance fee of USD 10. Tickets are valid for a week and allow you to revisit any number of times.
The entrance fee, with a guide to Kekku pagodas cost USD 8 (USD 5 for the guide and USD 3 for the entrance ticket).
Total entrance fee: USD 28
Food was really cheap in Myanmar. I stuck to eating at good clean places and avoided street food as quite a few of my fellow travellers had got the bug. A meal in a good restaurant cost me about USD 7. This included a drink (non-alcoholic), a salad and a curry with rice. The Burmese typically do not have desserts and make do with green tea or a banana at the end of the meal. A meal in an upper end restaurant cost me ~ USD 10.
Breakfast was included in all my stays and had bread, egg and a local dish (rice/pancakes/samosa)…I never had to pay anything extra for it.
Total food bill for the week: USD 120
This is a discretionary item… you may choose to tip…or you may not want to tip. Considering that a large chunk of the earnings still goes to the government, I was happy tipping ‘generously’ ..as per the local standards. A local youngster showed us around Ananda Phaya and another one guided us through Dhammayangi Temple in Bagan. I was happy tipping them USD 2.5 each (in local currency).
I also toured the local pottery and lacquer workshops and villages and tipped ~USD 2 per trip.
In case of a day tour (Kekku/Lake Inle), I tipped USD 5 to my driver or boatman.
Total tips: USD 25
I am sure I am forgetting a wee bit here and there…I can never trust my memory…and I am too lazy to write it down. Hence, I am allocating USD 50 to miscellaneous costs for the trip.
Total miscellaneous cost: USD 50
Total Trip Cost…
Add it all up….~ USD 1,126!
I haven’t included any shopping in the above accounts. I bought some lacquerware for ~USD 70, some green tea and garlic for USD 5 and some souvenirs for USD 10. Also, I added a high-flying experience (literally) and went for a hot air balloon ride with Balloons Over Bagan in my trip, which I have not included in the costs above.