Where to Eat and Sleep in Myanmar

Accommodation in Myanmar is expensive compared to the cost of living but, despite the lack of budget options like in the neighbouring Thailand, a decent double room costs less than $20 per person in high season. The main thing to worry about is availability in tourist-busy places like Bagan or Inle Lake.

Cheap Accommodation Bagan

Hotels and Guesthouses

Here are all the places where we have a direct experience, either stayed in or personally checked out. All prices indicated are for a twin/double room during high season.

How to book a hotel in Myanmar

None of the different booking techniques we’ve tried have proven 100% reliable. Generally speaking I would recommend using an online booking platform (Agoda seems to be the best in that part of the world), so at least you’re partially covered by the contract with the booking agent in case the reservation is not honoured. To prevent this it’s better to give the property a call a few days before arrival to make sure you’ll have a room, or to have enough time to find an alternative solution. If you need help please write a comment or get in touch with us via the form at the end of this article.

Hotels in Mandalay

In Mandalay we stayed at two different hotels, both excellent and clean. Buffet breakfast included

Hotel Sahara
No.414/A , 80th street, Between 26th – 27th st (towards the end of the 80th street, near the Royal Palace)
Conveniently located one block away from the AirAsia free airport shuttle.
:[email protected] : 02 67313 / 09 250199965
Price: $ 35

Hotel Queen
81th street, Between 32nd – 33rd st
We booked this hotel via email and the reservation was honoured.
: hotelqueenmandalay.com : [email protected] : +95 2 39805, 65586
Price $ 45

Kalaw

The awesome lady of Kalaw Inn became our mum for 3 days

Hotels and Guesthouses in Kalaw

Kalaw is a small neat town and all the hotels and guest-houses we’ve seen looked decent and inviting. People usually stops here for no more than one night or two, heading off to long treks on the hills and towards Inle Lake. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a room.

Golden Kalaw Inn
64, Natsin Street, Mineli Quarter, 10 Quarter
Clean hotel in a quiet street. Breakfast included (continental and shan, which is delicious) and big roof terrace. The lady running the place is a star of a woman, we could not recommend her enough. She’s also absolutely reliable in organising tours and excursions.
: [email protected] :+95 8 150 311
Price: $ 20 (get a room upstairs, quieter for $5 more)

Hotels and Guesthouses in Bagan – Nyaung-U

The complex of Bagan is composed of three towns: Old Bagan, New Bagan and Nyaung-U.

New Bagan is a recent centre built by the government when they decided to turn Old Bagan in an archaeological site. Here you can stay at the reliable:

Ostello Bello (Kayay St, New Bagan)
: ostellobello.com : [email protected]

Old Bagan has very few hotels and are all luxury, I wouldn’t recommend to stay here for many reasons, the main being explained at the bottom of this article.
We stayed instead in Nyaung-U which is where the ferry from Mandalay moors, is very traditional and a short bike ride from the temples of Bagan. Unfortunately the place where we stayed was horrible: Large Golden Pot, avoid at all costs.
This reliable website offers a list of the best guesthouses in Bagan.

Food in Bagan

Probably the lettuce is the only non-spicy dish here!

Restaurants and Teahouses

Our daily diet in Myanmar mostly relied on tea-houses (serving simple but tasty dishes for around $1) and on fruit and fried stuff sold at the markets. But every now and then we felt the need of a more complete meal, perhaps in healthier-looking conditions. Sometimes the large gap between a road side tea-house and a luxurious hotel restaurant is not teeming with choices but here is what we found.

Restaurants in Mandalay

Lashio Lay
Once we found this we had no reason to seek anything else. In a city where the offer is divided between the sometimes-rough tea houses and the tourist-oriented restaurant that try too hard these guys stand out pretty neatly. It’s a clean and friendly place, without watering down its authenticity: frequented by locals, great food and the staff don’t speak English.

Tea house
Another good place, with authentic Shan cuisine is a nameless tea house located where the AirAsia shuttle bus stops, at the northern end of 79th Street. It was recommended by Sean, our trishaw rider in Mandalay.

Restaurants in Kalaw

Everest
This is on the Lonely Planet and its quite noticeable in its patrons. Nevertheless it’s a good restaurant and it’s refreshingly clean and tidy. They serve good curries (4000 kyat) and soups (2000). They have fresh home made fruit lassi.

Thu Maung
Nice restaurant on two floors located on the main road of Kalaw. Good selection of curries (3000 kyat), tasty noodle soup (1500 kyat)

Coconut water

To beat the high temperature coconut juice is the best!

Restaurants in Bagan /  Nyaung-U

Moon
Another LP restaurant but absolutely unmissable. It’s a haven of peace and calm in the tourist-hell that is that part of Old Bagan. More expensive than the Burmese average but within the Bagan standard. Outstanding quality of vegetarian options and friendly staff. It’s a refreshing experience after a few days of tea houses and pointing fingers at incomprehensible menus.

Tea house in Nyang-U
My favourite is the green one near Golden Hotel, few houses to its right. I was only able to order Shan noodles (700 kyat) and fried rice (1000 kyat) but it was more than enough.
Also the red tea house next to the Western union is great, the food is slightly more elaborated and comes with lots of side dishes. They sell beer.

 

How to Travel Responsibly

One of the most important things to consider is that some hotels, especially the largest and most luxurious, are owned or controlled by the government. You don’t want your money to end up in the pockets of the military dictatorship and its crones.

Avoid government-owned business

It’s easier said than done, the junta-related hotels are certainly not bragging it. Usually hotels that are too conspicuous, too luxurious, or built on historical/religious sites should be avoided. The hotels we recommend here are independent, we cannot be 100% sure but we checked several sources and the presence of Aung San Suu Kyi photos are usually a good sign.
We found a useful section on the highly recommended Insight Guide for Burma.

Spread the money locally

Talk to the people, use their services, help them. Ask them about where to go next and try to spread your money evenly across the community, favouring independent workers and avoiding places that are too obviously tourist traps

Riding a Trishaw in Mandalay

Find more information on these two sites:

 

Need help booking a hotel in Myanmar? Let us know:

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After being in Rome a few times without even looking at the Coliseum I realised that there's more to travel than sightseeing: meeting the local culture is what, 10 years later, determined the birth of this blog.

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