Sunday, October 19, 2014

Budget and Safety Tips in Solo Traveling Myanmar

4-days Self-guided Solo Tour in Myanmar (Burma)
February 02-08, 2014

1. Starting Jan. 04, 2014, all Filipino passport holders are entitled of free visa pre-arrangement procedure. This means that Filipino's can go inside and out of Myanmar anytime provided that the stay duration should not be more than 14 days. During my immigration encounter upon arrival, passport control officer just asked me ONLY where is my visa, I told him Filipinos are free visa now. He asked his fellow IO to clarify and after a minute he handed over my passport explaining you have up to 14 days of stay. That was one of the most relax immigration encounter I ever had to think that the free visa privilege was implemented just less than a month ago.

2. Free visa privilege was announced December 2013 only during the Myanmar dignitaries state visit in Philippines. Good timing Air Asia was on promo fare around 3rd week of December while I'm scanning the web for possible airlines that can provide cheapest Myanmar flights. Round-trip ticket cost was around $107 only (meal included), Bangkok-Yangon and Mandalay-Bangkok. 

4-days self-guided solo tour in Myanmar (Bagan at night)

4-days self-guided solo tour in Myanmar (navigating the Bagan Archeological Zone)

4-days self-guided solo tour in Myanmar (located at 28th st cor 77st)

3. Currency exchange rates in airport is better than in the downtown or almost the same. As of February 2014, the exchange rate was 980kyat=$1 for $100 bills above while $970=$1 for $50 bills below. USD bill is acceptable to pay anywhere in the country (including taxi, hostel and resto). Exchange rate for this is $1=1,000kyat. So if you have a bill of 15,000kyat, you can pay $15 also. My $180 bills I exchanged in airport (mixed of 100,50,20,10) was converted to 175,600. I have $4.5=4,400kyat money lose.

4. Standard taxi fare from Yangon Airport to Downtown is 7,000kyat ($7) with travel time of around 45mins. I negotiated mine on 5,000kyat ($5) only, I walked far outside of the airport exit then this stubborn drivers follow me around.

5. ALL Pagoda's, Temple's and Shrines are required to have modest dress. This places also require barefoot walking.
Salient points to be observed by the visitors are; must not wear ladies blouse with wide and deep hives; must not wear wear (above knee) short pants and skirts and must not wear shoes, stocks and stockings. As for me, I wore T-shirt and puruntong shorts (3/4 length shorts) and sandals left outside of gate. Weather in Myanmar is tropical, so wear comfortable clothing. Only in Bagan at night and early morning I felt chilled.

4-days self-guided solo tour in Myanmar (sightseeing Mandalay road)

4-days self-guided solo tour in Myanmar (sightseeing Mingun)

4-days self-guided solo tour in Myanmar (ferry boar bound to Mingun)

4-days self-guided solo tour in Myanmar (Air Asia free shuttle bound to Mandalay airport)

6. Air Asia exclusively offers FREE SHUTTLE SERVICE FROM & TO MANDALAY AIRPORT for Air Asia Passengers. Bus departure timings from Mandalay downtown (79th Street between 26th & 27th St) to Mandalay airport
are 0900H(#1) and 0915H(#2) at 1 hour travel time. Bus departure timings from Mandalay Airport to downtown is 1245H(#1) and 1300H(#2). It is important to check-in 10 minutes before bus departure time. Furthermore, passport and Air Asia boarding pass/itinerary is required. As for my experience, bus #1 from downtown departed 5 minutes earlier (0855H) due bus already full of passengers but still arrived in Mandalay Airport around 1003H.

7. Locals are friendly and has a very peaceful surrounding. Even the cleanliness I noticed in Mandalay central market, the place is like a private place where stores closed around 2300h. The location is 99% clean as if there were no crowded sidewalk vendors stayed in the morning.

8. Standard taxi fare from Mandalay downtown to airport is 6,000kyat with travel time of 1hr. My travel within these destination were free because Air Asia provides free shuttle service for their passengers. Just ensure to arrive before 0900h meeting point in 26th street corner 79th street.

9. Some prices/fares for basic needs are as follows;
500ml water=400kyat.        Soda=400kyat
Taxi fare=3,000-5,000kyat for 45mins travel
Motorbike (backride) fare=2,000kyat for 5km travel
Ebike fare=6,000kyat for whole day
Bike=1,500kyat for whole day
Horse Cart=15,000kyat minimum (bound to Sunrise photoshoot)
Balloon trip=$320 above Bagan
Boat fare=$35 for Bagan-Mandalay on 10 hours travel w/in the day (no overnight)
Bus fare=15,000kyat for Yangon-Bagan (9hrs) and 7,500kyat for Bagan-Mandalay (5hrs)
Dinner at any Euro Resto in Mandalay=8,000kyat (average)
Hostel dormitory=10,000kyat
Hostel single room=18,000kyat

4-days self-guided solo tour in Myanmar (Mandalay-based taxi service charges)

4-days self-guided solo tour in Myanmar (Mandalay-based bus service charges)

4-days self-guided solo tour in Myanmar (Mandalay-based train service charges)

4-days self-guided solo tour in Myanmar (Mandalay-based boat service charges)


  1. Hi!

    My family and I are heading to Myanmar this June. Thank you so much for sharing your detailed itinerary as we are also staying for 4 full days. We've decided to spend a day in Yangon and take the night bus to Bagan. However, a major concern would be our baggage. Did you bring your baggage with you when you were going around Yangon? Do you know of any hotel near the bus station (JJ Express preferably) where we could deposit our bags while we go around Yangon?

    1. @Lily; If you are planning to perform exactly what I did which I bought my ticket first in the bus company office before proceeding to Yangon day tour, I recommend to leave your baggage in the bus company office (just bring with you your important belongings). Hope this helps :)


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