Top places to stay in Myanmar

Planning a trip to Burma? Explore the types of accommodation you'll find across Myanmar, from hotels to homestays, as well as how to travel responsibly and a few of our favourite places to stay
Hotel Strand in Yangon. Photo: Shutterstock
Hotel Strand in Yangon. Photo: Shutterstock
Myanmar offers a wide choice of accommodation in all its principal tourist centres (including impressive hotels in Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay), and the number of beds looks set to soar, as travellers' interest in the destination continues to grow. During the peak season from mid-November through January, vacancies in the most popular hotels can be hard to come by and you'll need to plan ahead. 


Taking a holiday to Myanmar: how to get started

Insight Guides can help you with planning, organising and booking your trip to Burma. Simply, get in touch and share your budget, interests and travel style. Our local experts will create an itinerary exclusive to you and your requirements, which you can amend until it's just right. By booking with Insight Guides, you can ensure your trip itinerary is taken care of before you depart, including your hotels even if you're travelling in the high-season. Alternatively, browse and modify ready-made holidays to create your dream trip today. 


Types of accommodation

Accommodation in Burma ranges dramatically in cost, from $10 backpacker dives with flea-ridden mattresses and barking dogs in the yard, to glittering $250-a-night palace hotels where you’ll have rose petals scattered in your bath tub and complimentary chocolates left on your luxury kingsize at fold-down time.


Budget guesthouses

Costing less than $25 for a double per night, the cheapest accommodation in Burma tends to be guesthouses tacked on to family homes. At their best, such places offer few comforts (thin mattresses, wood partition walls and shared shower-toilets), but will be clean, sociable and a great way to meet local families. You can expect the rooms to be well scrubbed, with fans and, in all but the direst places, exterior windows (usually barred) or even a small verandah to sit on in the evening. If you’re travelling on a low budget, be sure to bring a mosquito net and length of string to fasten it with as you’re sure to encounter plenty of nocturnal insect life. A universal sink plug can also be handy, as can a roll of toilet paper.


Mid-range hotels

Basic hotels, costing $30–50 per night, tend to be in the Chinese mould: multi-floored concrete blocks with plain en-suite rooms off galleried walkways. Space tends to be at a premium; the more you pay, the larger the room, and more comfortable the facilities. There’s generally some outside space. If you spend upwards of $50, however, you can expect a spacious en-suite room with air-con, a proper balcony or verandah, comfy mattress and tiled bathroom – and maybe the odd piece of Burmese handicraft or local textile to enliven the décor.


Upper mid-range

Things perk up considerably at around the $70 mark, for which you can sleep in great comfort in a room with a modern air-con unit (or central a/c), and expect to have the run of a pool. There’ll be private sitting space on a spacious verandah or balcony, furnished with wicker chairs. And if you’re lucky, functioning wi-fi (or internet access in the lobby), laundry, room service, a formal restaurant and a travel desk.

Bayview Resort, Ngapali Beach. Photo:  Lodgingeo


Expensive

Set in landscaped gardens, luxury four- or five-star hotels account for the bulk of high-end accommodation in Burma. They offer spacious, well-furnished, air-conditioned rooms, and large pools. There’ll be a gym, probably a spa, well-trained staff and nightly culture shows featuring local classical musicians, dancers and puppet troupes.

An alternative is the smaller, more stylish boutique hotel, where the rooms are furnished in particularly beautiful fashion with teak floors, carved railings, hand-made silk throws and brass Buddhas. 


Luxury

Only a handful of the finest hotels in Yangon and Mandalay, and the major resorts such as Inle Lake and Ngapali, can command room rates exceeding $200 per night, and they’re every bit as ritzy as you’d expect. While some, notably the Strand in Yangon, appeal to customers with their lavish, retro feel, others pile on the regal Burmese style, with multi-tiered pagoda roofs and superb arts and crafts re-creating the feel of a Konbaung palace.


Making a responsible choice of where to stay in Burma

When Aung San Suu Kyi announced the end of the tourism boycott in 2010, she did so with the proviso that tourists should stay in establishments that benefit ordinary, working Burmese people. Some of the larger high-end establishments are owned and run directly by military generals and their families, or else close cronies whose wider business interests overlap suspiciously with those of the repressive regime. Travellers should be aware of where they are staying and who their money is going to. 

If you’re travelling on a package tour, don’t be afraid to press your tour operator into using an alternative if you fear your money might end up in pockets you’d rather it didn’t. Our local experts at Insight Guides are happy to review the hotels featured in our trips with you, whether to explain their backgrounds or the reason for their inclusion. Browse ready-made holidays online now or talk to our local experts directly today.


Tax, payment and booking ahead

Wherever you stay, you can’t avoid paying the mandatory 10% tax levied on all hotel bills, which goes straight to the government. Luxury places may also be required to make an additional 10% service charge.

Bills nearly always have to be settled in cash – which in Myanmar means crisp, unblemished dollar notes rather than kyat (no folds or tears allowed). Some hotels accept credit or debit cards, but those that do will invariably whack on a 4 or 5% administration charge for the privilege.

With the pressure on hotel and guesthouse beds as intense as it is these days, it’s always a good idea to book ahead, ideally a week or more in advance. A phone call or email will usually suffice; follow up with a call the day before your intended arrival date, just to make sure they still have you in their reservation chart.

 The Hotel By the Red Canal is one of the best places to stay in Mandalay. Photo: Lodgingeo


Insight's selection of top hotels in Myanmar

Burma overflows with appealing hotel options, but to start off, why not try one of these exquisite places to stay? Don't forget, you can add the hotels below to any of our trips to Myanmar: discuss your travel plans with our Burmese local experts today


Governor’s Residence, Yangon

The last word in retro-colonial chic. Sip a gin sling on the verandah of this immaculately restored 1920s mansion, a contender for Yangon's most stylish place to stay.


Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort, Inlé Lake

Stay on the water in style. Individual villas offer seclusion, with private terraces to soak up the pristine view from. Plus, this place is included on Insight Guides Secrets of Myanmar holiday: check it out online now


Hotel by the Red Canal, Mandalay

Blending sumptuous Burmese style with international boutique chic, this small hotel in the suburbs of Mandalay is a haven befitting the city’s former royal connections.


Thazin Garden Hotel, Bagan

Cool, comfortable rooms in luxurious surroundings. This hotel even has its own ancient temple in its grounds, which you can dine by encircled by twinkling fairy lights. Don't miss it on our Old World Myanmar trip


Bayview Resort, Ngapali Beach

Right on the sand, the sea-facing teak chalets in this sleek boutique place are the perfect base from which to enjoy Myanmar’s dreamiest beach.


Strand, Yangon

Dating from 1903, the Strand is the granddaddy of Myanmar’s luxury hotels, where the likes of Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling stayed at the twilight of the British Empire. Following a refurbishment and grand reopening in November 2016, the hotel is once again elegant and luxurious.  


Pristine Lotus Resorts, Inlé Lake

One word = wow. These cute cottages sit amongst the lake's calm waters offering visitors a tranquil, peaceful stay. Relax in the on-site spa and natural hot springs for yourself on Insight Guides' Old World Myanmar holiday.


This article was originally published on April 17th, 2013.


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