All our figures to help you prepare your budget and itinerary in Myanmar. Burma is definitively a perfect country for backpackers
Backpacking Myanmar Travel Guide
At the time we lived in Chiang Mai for 5 months, during the winter of 2016-2017, we decided to go on a short backpacking trip in the neighboring country: Myanmar. A little 2-week getaway that only whet our appetite for this country!
On this page you will find some of the most important general information to prepare your backpacking trip in Myanmar and at the end of the page you will be able to discover all our blog posts written following this trip.
Myanmar Map with all our blog posts
At the end of the page you will find all our articles written on Burma in "chronological" order. If you prefer to see all our items on a map then you can open the map below and select the item of your choice according to your destination.
our Travel Budget in Myanmar
Each budget is of course different, but here is what we spent during our 2 weeks in Myanmar in January 2017. The budgets below are per day and for 2 people, so if you prefer this corresponds to a global budget of 22€ (24,9$) per day and per person.
|Food & Beverage
- The above budget is only for local costs. This does not include the budget to get in and out of Myanmar
- This does not include visa fees ($50 per person)
- Accommodation is a little underestimated. This is because we did a 3-day and 2-night trek between Kalaw and Inle. This trek is included in the "Extras" category but it includes accommodation on the trek.
For more details on our budget, please refer to our special budget article.
Myanmar Visa - How to proceed?
The visa for Burma is a piece of cake! Indeed since a few years now it is possible to make your visa online in a few clicks!
- Visa price? 50$
- Time to obtain it: between 24h and 72h
- Validity: The visa allows you to stay for up to 28 days. The validity of the visa itself is 90 days, which means that you can apply for it no more than 3 months before your departure. Personally, I recommend that you do it 2 weeks before.
- Website: Always use the official website
- To enter the country, remember to print the letter of acceptance. Your passport will be stamped at the airport or border of entry
IMPORTANT: There are a lot of scams around the visa for Myanmar... if you type Burmese visa in Google all the first search results are commercial sites (which sometimes look very official). Don't pay more for a visa that can be done 100% online. Remember that the price is $50 and that's it!
It is of course still possible to make a "classic" visa by going to the embassy, but it is more expensive and much less convenient.)
Best time to visit Myanmar?
The best time of the year to go to Myanmar is most likely in November, December and January. At this time of the year the weather is dry and temperate (understand that it is warm and nice, but not 40°C either).
The months of February, March and April are also very dry overall but on the other hand the temperatures go up a lot and it is not uncommon to reach 40°C at this time of year.
Between May and October it is the monsoon season in the south (in the north it is mainly in August and September). Rainfall can be heavy.
After that, these are just trends and indications! It is very possible that you will have a beautiful week in May just as it is possible to have a rainy week in November. These indications are of course theoretical.... And don't forget, the more "good" a season is considered to be, the more tourists there will be and the higher the prices will be ;) Leaving slightly out of "the best" season can have its advantages too... it's up to you to weigh the pros and cons!
Myanmar itinerary: our 2-week tour
During our trip in January 2017 we spent 2 weeks in Myanmar. 2 weeks is, I find a duration that is quite ideal: long enough to see a lot of things and enjoy it well but it is also too short to see everything. :) Thus, we left totally under the spell with a strong desire to come back again to see more!
For this first trip we did a very "classic" tour, understand by this that we decided to go and see most of the sites that are often described as being the "unmissable of Myanmar".
Our Itininerary in Myanmar:
Getting to Myanmar
To come to Burma we have roughly 2 options:
- By Air: international flights allow you to arrive directly in Yangoon or in the Mandalay region. To find a flight we recommend you take a look on skyscanner.
Note: think about looking at direct flights to Burma from your home country, but also think about looking at round trips to cities like Bangkok, then add a flight to Burma. This combination can be much cheaper depending on season/availability.
- By Land: It is possible to enter Burma by land as well. Several borders are open to tourists. However, remember to check which ones are available to e-visa holders before your trip on the official website. For our part we arrived from Thailand via the Mae Sot - Myawaddy border and everything went very well. More details on our border crossing in our review article
Getting around Myanmar
In Myanmar it is very easy to travel between the different tourist sites by bus. The network is relatively well developed (at least the connections between the main tourist sites are very good). Nevertheless, it is important to be aware that the distances are long and especially that the buses are not very fast. A trip from Yangon to Bagan, for example, takes about ten hours.
In terms of quality, we found the buses to be excellent: quite recent, they are comfortable and equipped with air conditioning (On that note: don't forget to bring a sweater for bus rides, because aircon is no joke on burmese buses) ;)
One means of transport that we haven't tried but that we would like for a next time is the train! (We did a train ride in Yangoon, but not between the cities). On the map you can see the entire railway network. However, we warn you, the train is by far the slowest means of transport in Myanmar! :) But it is probably also the one that offers the strongest experience. I don't know, but I've always been fascinated by train travel and the little magic it carries.
If long bus or train journeys are not your thing, it is of course also possible to take national flights. Burma's main (and international) airports are Yangoon and Mandalay. But there are more than 20 "local" airports that are more or less well connected. The most "touristic" ones are probably those of Hpa-An/Mawlamyaing, Tachilek, Bagan, Thandwe, Kyaukpyu. But of course if you can avoid small flights like these it's always better for the environment.
Burma FAQ - Frequently asked questions
Do I need to book my accommodation in Myanmar in advance?
We (very) often read that in Burma it is absolutely necessary to book accommodation in advance because finding a hotel on the spot is difficult.... We're not going to tell you not to book (especially if that's how you usually travel) but simply that, when we were there, we decided to test if this was true. We didn't book anything in advance except for our last night in Yangon (we arrived late at night and left the next day and didn't want to lose time looking for a place to stay). During the rest of the stay we always found accommodation easily. Overall, accommodation is cheaper if booked directly on site than via the internet (small hostels are simply not on the net), but it is also true that in high season it is relatively full. At Inlé Lake, for example, we "searched" for a good half an hour before finding a hostel that was not fully-booked and we ended up taking the first one that had an available room. In short, book if you are used to booking online, but if on the contrary you prefer to search on site then do it! For your information we were in Myanmar in January 2017 (high season)
If you want to book in advance you can take a look at the map below. You'll find all available hotels and airbnbs for your desired dates and you can adjust the filters to refine your search:
Should I bring dollars or euros to Myanmar?
This is also a common misconception that dates back a few years... a few years ago it was indeed a good idea to arrive with cash because ATMs were not yet very widespread. But things have changed! When we were here in 2017, we had absolutely no problem withdrawing money in all the places we were! Of course you can bring a few "emergency" dollars or euro, but there is no need to plan your entire travel budget in cash!
Is Myanmar a safe country to travel?
Yes! Myanmar has a difficult history and some problems are not solved... Nevertheless the country is slowly rebuilding and tourism is an important help for that. During our stay we never felt uncomfortable or in danger, quite the contrary! All the people we met were very caring and welcoming. After that, however, there are still some areas that are not allowed for tourism and it is better to avoid them.
What does "Responsible travel" mean in Myanmar?
After many years of military dictatorship, the country is gently transitioning to democracy. These are in any case the official intentions of the government. Nevertheless, the fact remains that many things are still controlled and "cashed" by the army. The people generally "don't care" about the different political orientations and power issues (at least this is what we felt from the guides and people with whom we had contact) and all they are now interested in is being able to live and work quietly "for themselves". In this spirit, it seemed important to us to mention that, in our opinion, Myanmar is probably one of the countries where it is most important to try to promote sustainable and local tourism. What does it mean on a daily basis? Prefer to buy your vegetables at the market or your drink in the small grocery store rather than in a large chain, choose an independent local guide and not a large agency, organize tours but do not book everything with the same people. Also try to "distribute" your money as much as possible. By buying souvenirs from different vendors, changing guides for the different sites and shopping at several small businesses, you will help to distribute resources a little better and above all prevent the same people from always collecting the money!
Useful resources to prepare your trip to Burma
- Prepare your trip independently with a travel guide such as Lonely Planet or Rough Guide
- To get your visa make sure you don't get scammed by an online agency and always use the official website where the visa is sold for 50$.
- Make sure you have a travel insurance. In case of medical issue, most insurance companies will either bring you to Yangoon or even Thailand for quality medical care. See our Travel Insurance comparison blog post to find the best ones for you.