Oct 28 2013

Should you book in advance for high season travel in Burma (Myanmar)?

Published by at 2:52 pm under Money & costs


We’ll keep this post short and to the point: if you’re on the “greatest hits” loop in Burma (Myanmar) ie Yangon -> Bagan -> Mandalay -> Inle Lake -> Yangon, and are travelling between November and February, then the answer to the question of whether you should book in advance for high season travel is most likely a yes. If you’re travelling with a family, you need to book right now.

I bet he didn't need to book online.

I bet he didn’t need to book online.

We’ve now heard from a few travellers who are either having difficulty sourcing affordable places online or, on arrival in “tourist hotspots”, are finding rooms harder to come by than they expected. Inle Lake in particular continues to be problematic, while in Bagan, where there is a semi-decent supply of rooms, rates are (even by Burma standards) disproportionately high for the standard.

So here is what we suggest you do:

a) Contact the hotel direct (email or phone). This is how you’ll get the best rate. Doing this, however, may involve multiple calls and emails to nail everything down. Check our (slowly) growing section for independently reviewed guesthouses and hotels in Burma (Myanmar) — including places that are probably not in whatever guidebook you’ve been sweating over. All the direct contact details are there.

b) If the hotel or guesthouse says they are full, check with an online travel agent like Agoda (our booking partner) as the hotel you are after may have rooms allotted there. Note that while they guarantee their online rate is the lowest you’ll find online, it may be more expensive than a walk-in price — but there’s no point having a cheaper walk-in price if the hotel is full.

Keep dreamin...

Keep dreamin…

Bear in mind that for the vast majority of locations in Burma, nothing can be booked online, so once you stray off the above “best of” it’s a crapshoot.

While I’m on the topic of rooms in Burma, if you’ve not been to Burma before, the rooms are NOT good value for money. On my previous trip earlier this year the cheapest room I had was in Yangon for $18 — it’s now $27. Expect to pay roughly double what you’d pay in Thailand for a similar standard — thanks in part to Burma’s double pricing system for hotels where foreigners pay considerably more than locals do.

What have I done given I’m heading there next week? I just booked two nights in Yangon and will figure it out from there. I’ve got more flexibility than some as I’m going for a research trip and most of my travel will be to places that are not represented at all online — but for most, some advance booking would be prudent.

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3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Should you book in advance for high season travel in Burma (Myanmar)?”

  1. scott beckon 10 Nov 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Hello,

    Where can I find out more on Visas’ Thank you.

    Scott Beck
    wscottbeck@gmail.com

  2. StuartMcDonaldon 10 Nov 2013 at 11:59 pm

    Hi Scott,
    Here are a couple of links:
    Overstaying your visa http://www.travelfish.org/blogs/burma/2013/06/overstaying-your-tourist-visa-in-burmamyanmar/

    Getting a Burma (Myanmar) visa in Bangkok
    http://www.travelfish.org/blogs/thailand/2011/04/23/getting-a-visa-to-burma-in-bangkok/

    Getting a Burma visa in Kuala Lumpur
    http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/burma/23304_impt—new-location-for-getting-burma-visa-in-kl-as-of-14-oct-2013-

    Getting a Burma visa in Singapore
    http://www.travelfish.org/blogs/singapore/2011/03/25/how-to-get-a-burmese-visa-in-singapore/

    Or ask in the forum:
    http://www.travelfish.org/board/topic/burma

    Cheers!

  3. donortravelon 14 Nov 2013 at 1:43 pm

    I have been to Burma numerous times and the last 3-4 trips, most of the hotels in the major centres are totally booked out so I would really recommend to anyone now visiting to book in advance. I have found the only way to do that was through a long term highly reliable tour guide (Soe Soe at kosoesoemdy@gmail.com) because the hotels are so over booked they simply don’t even bother to reply to emails. The other side of that is the fact that many hotels don’t have staff who are confident enough with their English to respond to an email. One option if you do arrive and haven’t got a room booked, is to head up to the hill top town of Pyin Oo Lwin because it is much quieter and cooler than Mandalay and I can also tell you in the summer months, you will pretty glad to get out of that sticky, noisy, dirty dustbowl of Mandalay.

    On a side note, I have just used the services of Soe Soe yesterday again to go to the Yenanthar leprosy hospital (about and hour from Mandalay) to make donation. The money goes to both the hospital and the leper village. Well worth doing. Todays tour was to some monasteries and waterfall surrounding Pyin Oo Lwin. stunning scenery.

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