Myanmar Travel (also known as Burma)
Myanmar travel is growing in popularity and the country is possibly the last paradise in Indochina. It’s vastly different from other parts of Southeast Asia. Myanmar (also known as Burma) has been largely closed to the outside world for decades during its harsh military rule. You must visit Myanmar as soon as you can, it’s so affordable now with cheap flights available. The daily cost of Myanmar travel is also very affordable at just SGD 70.
Myanmar is beautiful, isolated and has largely not been tainted by tourism. However this won’t be the case in years to come. Myanmar is rapidly changing and modernising, there’s an influx of companies setting up businesses in this country. More and more tourists visit each year, visit now before this Southeast Asian gem is lost.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money nor time to visit Myanmar, it can be done for under SGD 500 (7 days in Myanmar). Disclaimer: this figure excludes the cost of your flight. However due to close geographical proximity, flights from to Yangon from Singapore are very cheap.
Cheap flights to Myanmar
I visited in 2012 when there was just one budget air carrier that flew to Yangon from Bangkok, that was the flight I took. Now there’s a lot of flights into Myanmar and the cheapest one from Singapore to Yangon costs just SGD 123 (two-way). That’s incredibly affordable. Budget airlines that service the Singapore-Yangon route includes Jetstar Asia Airways and Tigerair. Full-fledged airlines with flights from Singapore to Yangon includes Myanmar National Airlines, SilkAir and Singapore Airlines.
Average Budget & Expenses in Myanmar
It costs just SGD 70 for a day of Myanmar travel, which translates to around $500 for travelling a week in this beautiful country.
There’s a shortage of hotel rooms in popular destinations. Tourist arrivals to Myanmar increased by almost fourfold since 2011 and the country wasn’t able to cope. The peak season is from November to March, definitely book ahead if you’re visiting during this period. Popular accommodation in Yangon, Inle Lake and Bagan fills up a month in advance. It’s best to plan your trip in advance and book the best rooms before they get snapped up. It’s easier on your budget too as you won’t be paying more than you want or planned for. Prices for hotel rooms and hostels can be expensive by Southeast Asian standards but still affordable. A basic room that would’ve cost SGD 15 in Cambodia would cost SGD 50 in Myanmar. It’s crucial to pair up and share costs with a travel buddy when travelling in Myanmar if you’re on a budget.
Myanmar Food & Meals
Meals cost between SGD 3 (if you eat local) and SGD 15 (if you’re dining at cafes serving western food). I didn’t enjoy Myanmar food as much as Thai or Vietnamese. It isn’t really a foodie destination and I didn’t spend a lot on food. Alcohol is cheap but artisan coffees are at western prices.
Myanmar Bus & Transport
Myanmar travel takes time, a lot of time. Travelling from Yangon to Mandalay takes 9 hours on a bus, and it’s a bumpy journey. Most of the time buses are faster than the trains in Myanmar. Buses are very affordable, it costs just SGD 17 for an overnight bus journey from Yangon to Bagan and you get to save on hotel costs. If you’re on a budget, don’t even think about catching domestic flights, the same Yangon-Myanmar journey will cost at least SGD 170 (10 times more than the bus). There isn’t any budget air carriers flying domestically, hence fares can be expensive. However if you do fly, a tip is to book your domestic flights when you’re in Myanmar, it’s cheaper and easier to book via local tour agencies.
When I visited some years ago I had to head down to the Myanmar embassy in Singapore and leave my passport with them for my tourist visa to be processed. Now you simply apply for a Tourist eVisa, which is done entirely online. All you have to do is to fill the secure online eVisa form, confirm your application and pay. After which you’ll receive an approval letter within 3 days. Take note that as a Tourist eVisa holder you’re only allowed to enter the country via Yangon International Airport, Mandalay International Airport and Nay Pyi Taw International Airport.
Money & Currency
Bring your ATM card as well as US dollars to change to the local currency, the Burmese kyat. Ensure that your US bills are crisp, immaculate and aren’t printed before 2006. If not, you may not be able to exchange them for some mysterious reason. Credit cards aren’t widely accepted, they’re accepted only in top-end hotels and some Myanmar travel agents in the cities. Paying via credit card incurs a fee on top of exchange rates, not great if you’re on a budget.
More Cheap Flights from Singapore
We’re lucky to be living in Southeast Asia with an abundance of budget airlines that serves the region. Other than Myanmar, there’s tons of cheap destinations that you can visit in Southeast Asia. Check out some of the cheapest flights out of Singapore, there’s absolutely no excuse to not travel this year!
This article will be republished on Tripzilla Magazine.