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Myanmar Budget

Accommodation Details

City Hotel Private Bathroom Air Conditioned Cost per Night
Yangon Garden Guest House no no $4
  Pyin-U-Lwin 2 yes yes $7
Kinpun Pann Myo Thu Inn yes no $4
Mandalay Royal Guest House no no $3
  Nylon Hotel yes no $4
Pyin U Lwin Grace Hotel 2 yes no $5
Hsipaw Nam Khae Mao Guest House yes no $5
Bagan Kyi Kyi Mya yes no $6
Nyaungshwe (Lake Inle) May Guest House yes no $5
Thazi Moonlihght Guest House? It's the only one in town yes yes $5
Bago Emperor Motel yes yes $6

My total accommodation costs were $139, which averages out at $5 per night.

Transportation Details

Type of Transport Total Km Travelled Time Spent Total Cost Average Speed Cost per Km
Pickup 697 km 24.5 hrs 8,400 kyat ($7) 28 kmph 1 cent/km
Bus 240 km 10 hrs 5,000 kyat ($4) 24 kmph 1.6 cent/km
Train 1,370 km 45 hrs $52 30 kmph 3.8 cent/km
Boat 150 km 11 hrs $18 13.6 kmph 12 cent/km

This is only to give a rough idea as I have estimated some of the distances.

Breakdown of Costs

Accommodation $139
Transport $88
Trips and Tours $50
Entrance Fees $18
------- -------
Visa $24
Flights (ex Bangkok, with Bangkok Airlines) $190
------- -------
Average Cost per Day (excluding flights & visa) $10.53
Average Cost per Day (total) $18.18

Money, Internet and Other Matters

I changed just $100 into kyat when I arrived in Yangon, and this pretty mush lasted me the whole time (I did have to change another $5 at Inle, but this was only because of my excessive Internetting). I changed my money at the Bogyok Aung San market, and got a rate of 1,250 kyat/dollar (this was late September 2005). When I returned to Yangon a month later, I was offered a rate of 1,200 kyat/dollar - I didn't haggle, as I had no need to change more money, but would have thought I'd have been able to match my initial rate. Outside Yangon and Mandalay I was quoted a rate of 1,000 kyat/dollar.

I paid all hotel bills in dollars, because this suited me; other people I saw paid in kyat (outside of Yangon, anyway). I tried to pay for trains in kyat, mainly to be awkward, but failed on every occasion.

I used a few different Internet cafes in Yangon, all around the back of city hall. Rates varied from 400 kyat, and service was very hit and miss - sometimes gmail could be accessed, but not hotmail - and slow enough to make you scream, most of the time. Rates varied from 400 kyat an hour upwards.

In Mandalay I used two places, one was (possibly government run) a large place that everyone seemed to know, called KMG (I think). It's on 78th St between 33rd and 34th St, and rates were 600 kyat per hour. The other place was called Japan Cyber, and was above a shop on 30th St, between 73rd and 74th St. This place was high-tech and relatively fast (slow by other country's standards, mind), and you could access hotmail, chat on messenger, whatever. Drawback was the cost at $3 an hour.

Lake Inle - why does everybody say wait until you get here for Internetting? Beats me. It was expensive at $3 an hour, unreliable and slow. Theoretically you can get on hotmail, but in practice it took me over 25 minutes just to be able to read an email - and I couldn't access gmail at all. My advice would be to get it out of your system in Mandalay, at Japan Cyber.

Other places: I saw signs for Internet in Pyin U Lwin and Bagan, but I didn't try them.

I got my parents to sign up to Lonely Planet's Thorntree, and kept in touch with them that way - any site that will let you send private messages will do. It's less frustrating than having to rely on email, and worked well for me.

Just in case I didn't stress it enough in my cyber journal, I loved Myanmar and found the people there amongst the warmest I've met anywhere; I was very glad I chose to visit. I saw little evidence of the oppressive government - I'm not for an instant doubting that bad things go on, just saying that as a tourist you are unlikely to see anything. By my reckoning, 94 of the dollars I spent in the country went to the government (visa, entrance fees and train fares), with the rest going to the people.

Should you go to Myanmar? Well that's a decision you're going to have to make for yourself. If you do decide to go, don't kid yourself that you are going to teach the people anything about the outside world - they have BBC World via satellite, and access to the Internet, even if it is limited. Go because you want to go, and because you want to learn something about the country and its wonderful people; I certainly don't regret my decision.

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