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An update from Evaneos
Myanmar

The cost of living in Burma - everything is changing very quickly

Accommodation and transport are two of the most important items of expenditure where you may not get good value for money. It's often best to prioritise family style accommodation and small restaurants. Finally, try your best to buy equitably made souvenirs which respect local customs and are produced by local workers.

Accommodation and transport: two important items of expenditure

Travelling in Burma means having a larger budget than other destinations in the region, and westerners may even be surprised by prices that are similar to those in Europe in two areas: accommodation and transport. You also need to remember the entrance charges for tourist sites. On the other hand, eating costs about the same as in the rest of Asia.

Nowadays, you can withdraw money with a Visa card, or similar , from distributors that have been installed almost everywhere in the country. Obviously, you can also change money in specialised bureaux d'echanges in airports and big cities (in February 2016 one pound bought 1,720 kyat). Since the end of 2014, it no longer seems necessary to have brand new US dollar bills. You can pay in US dollars (hotels, buses...) or in kyats but not in sterling.

There is all sorts of accommodation available during your stay in Burma, from big palaces at hundreds of pounds a night, to a bed in a stuffy backstreet dormitory. Prices are rising very quickly, but you can expect to pay between £8 and £12 for a bed in a dormitory, and £25 to £40 for a standard double room with air conditioning. Sometimes, there is not much competition, mainly in areas that are not so popular with tourists, which can mean you don't get good value for money. You could also travel outside the high season and try to negotiate prices.

The major tourist sites (Bagan, Lake Inlé...) charge an entrance fee which is payable in US dollars.

Travel responsibly and choose family style businesses

If you want to travel responsibly in Burma and keep your budget down, why not try small family style accommodation (a sort of home stay), eat in little restaurants and even try to avoid tourist places that charge entrance fees.

Generally, it is very easy to eat in the street like the Burmese do, sitting on little stools: a total local experience for only a few kyats.

Street restaurant in Mandalay

Given that a teacher's average monthly salary is $150, if you want to bargain for your souvenirs be moderate and act responsibly. Finally, be respectful of the Buddhist religion, try to buy products made by local artisans, and don't buy commercial products that have images of the Buddha that are disrespectful.

You can travel in lots of different ways in Burma: from motorcylcists staying in dormitories to a 5 star honeymoon. However you travel, the smiles of the Burmese people and their warm welcome are available to everybody.

Gaëtan MOLENE
6 contributions
Updated 22 March 2016
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