Burma Budget

We knew that Burma would be a bit more expensive than other destinations, largely due to accommodations costing more. We hired a travel agent who took care of booking hotels for us as well as providing a car and driver for several days. Overall, we spent $1809 over 12 days, (including $84 for our visas) for an average of about $150 per day. If I could do it over again, I would have asked our travel agent to book us cheaper acommodations as the places we stayed (with the exception of Bagan) were incredibly expensive and generally lousy. We averaged $62.50 per night on lodging, but that’s a bit padded as we were able to stay for free for a few nights in Yangon with our friend Rob.

Our budget for Burma. Required going to numerous banks in Bangkok and carefully reviewing every bill for creases, tears and spots. Because Burma's  like a crazy rapper and only accepts brand new hundos.

Our budget for Burma. Required going to numerous banks in Bangkok and carefully reviewing every bill for creases, tears and spots. Because Burma’s like a crazy rapper and only accepts brand new hundos.

Most things in Burma are incredibly cheap. A lunch of streetside noodles or curry and some tea will cost you no more than $2. A large bottle of beer is about $1.50. We took numerous bus rides (one amazing and two really, really awful). The fancy bus cost about $25 per person for a 10 hour ride. The other buses were about the same amount of time but cost half that…and did I say MUCH LESS COMFORTABLE?

We refused to fly within Burma partly out of safety concerns and partly because the airlines are connected to the government and we wanted as little of our money as possible going to bad guys that do bad things. We did end up spending $70 on government entrance fees to sites, but that’s largely unavoidable.

When you turn your hundos into Burmese Kyat, you get a stack of money like this. Judging by the size of this stack, I'd guess this is about $150 US dollars.

When you turn your hundos into Burmese Kyat, you get a stack of money like this. Judging by the size of this stack, I’d guess this is about $150 US dollars.

It’s about 850 Myanmar Kyat to the dollar. The government only let the Kyat float against the dollar recently and formerly the official exchange rate was about 8 kyat to the dollar, so no one used official money changers and you had to get your money on the black market. This is no longer necessary and anyone that approaches you on the street looking to change money is going to scam you — likely by using slight of hand to short change you.

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