Mandalay doesn't offer the best pickings at the budget end of the spectrum, but they do have a good flashpacker selection and it can be a tempting spot to splash a few extra dollars for some creature comforts. Here's our pick of the bunch. As is often the case in Burma (Myanmar)—and this is particularly the case in Mandalay—accommodation in the budget $10 to $20 price bracket is, to say the... Read our full review of Where to stay in Mandalay.
Central Mandalay has a host of accommodation options in the flashpacker and midrange, though decent budget choices are still somewhat limited. The larger upmarket hotels mostly avoid the cramped centre and are around the edges of town. Most of the $25-$50 spots are in a rectangle between 78th and 83rd streets north/south and 26th and 32nd streets east/west. Many are of a very similar design and layout to the extent that it’s quite difficult to tell one from another. Many are perfectly adequate; very few stand out.
Several of Mandalay’s uninspired budget operations are dotted along 82nd and 83rd Streets while a clutch of up-market alternatives are found in the leafier south section of town. (Note, all the below have complimentary breakfast unless indicated otherwise.)
Seasonal rates aren’t as universally applied, (and if they are then not as excessively), as in say Bagan or Inle Lake. Generally speaking - as elsewhere in the country - high season is November through to February with October, April and August forming a second tier. May to July plus September are low.
The Emperor’s a smallish hotel but well designed, with delightful rooms priced at a level making it a great year-round deal. A lot of thought has clearly gone into the hotel and the result is a cosy rather than cramped feel. It’s a new building though the modern exterior belies a somewhat retro-style interior where varnished wood and red carpets make it seem as if you’ve stepped into a... Read our full review of Hotel Emperor.
While it's difficult to find any standout choices among the mass of very similar flashpacker options in Mandalay, the well-organised and efficiently managed Kaung Myint proves to be an exception. The hotel is relatively new as of 2016, and rooms are spotless, with efficient air-con and ensuite hot showers. They also come with a kettle for tea and coffee, fridge and minibar, cable TV and most... Read our full review of Kaung Myint Hotel.
Some distance away from the city centre, Ayarwaddy River View Hotel stands on its own across the road from the river, with great unobstructed views of the Ayeyarwaddy. It's one of the better appointed hotels in Mandalay, with midrange features and prices, but is one of the cheapest deals offering a rare downtown swimming pool. Rooms are spacious, bright and airy with air-con, cable TV,... Read our full review of Ayarwaddy River View Hotel.
A recent addition to Mandalay’s flashpacker range is conveniently located Hotel 8, and it represents a very good deal for its asking rates. The typically modern exterior, in tall, thin Mandalay hotel-style is even less enticing than most. With lots of reflective glass and grey wall panels if they didn’t have a hotel sign out front you’d assume it was an office or bank. However, true to... Read our full review of Hotel 8.
Compared to its midrange competitors, Mandalay City Hotel has a very convenient, central location and manages to squeeze in a decent sized pool, albeit having slightly higher rates to go with it. The pool area is set in a small but cute garden; the restaurant and bar area is pleasantly laid out and the rooms are great. What is peculiar though is the hotel’s entrance. On 26th, a driveway... Read our full review of Mandalay City Hotel.
Silver Swan Hotel offers well-maintained rooms with plenty of amenities and friendly staff, with prices at flashpacker levels year-round. The hotel is a bit to the southwest of Mandalay’s centre on a nondescript section of 83rd Street, so you will have to walk a few blocks to get to most restaurants. The exterior is typical of the city’s newer hotels, with seven glass-fronted floors plus a... Read our full review of Silver Swan Hotel.
Our top luxury choice for Mandalay is The Hotel by the Red Canal, a small hotel that remains low-key and unpretentious but offers a superb setting and professional staff. We counted 26 rooms split over four price categories in this hotel, set in an immaculately tended tropical garden surrounding a medium-sized pool. In turn this is surrounded by a teak deck providing plenty of seating areas... Read our full review of The Hotel by the Red Canal.
Yadanarpon Dynasty looks more upmarket than it is, offering two rows of chalet-style rooms set in a garden with a pathway leading to the main five-storey building at the rear. The garden's hardly a lush jungle, but it's well maintained and gives a pleasant green aspect to the verandas of the comfortable chalets (they call them villas). The solidly built chalets are actually three rooms each... Read our full review of Yadanarpon Dynasty Hotel.
79 Living Hotel conforms to the usual Mandalay hotel pattern: think modern, tall and thin with six storeys culminating in a rooftop restaurant. No high season supplements make this a very good flashpacker option. Rooms are simple but clean and bright and come with a table and chairs, fridge, coffee and tea, safe, flatscreen TV, air-con and ensuite hot water bathrooms. Bathrooms are well kept... Read our full review of 79 Living Hotel.
Mandalay hotels are typically all tall, thin modern buildings, but top marks to Bagan King's owners who have gone to great lengths to disguise this format with a full-on, ye-olde Bagan theme. The exterior of what is basically a seven-storey rectangle is finished in red-painted brick with elaborate, temple-style arched doorways. Inside, the dark ochre reception area is dimly lit with statues of... Read our full review of Bagan King Hotel.
Garden Hotel is one of the best of a clutch of budget spots located north of 26th Street in a rectangular area stretching up to 22nd. The clocktower and Zay Cho market are a couple of blocks south and the moat a couple east, but we never did work out where the titular garden is. You have a choice of fan-cooled rooms with shared bathrooms or air-con, ensuite ones for a few dollars more. Rooms... Read our full review of Garden Hotel.
The classy Yadanarbon offers great rooms and helpful staff, but it suffers the same problem as several newer, upmarket hotels in town: while rooms are excellent and they do have a good rooftop bar, they’re pricing themselves firmly in the midrange while lacking any garden or pool. The similarly priced Ayarwaddy River View and Mandalay City however do fill up quickly, and if you're caught... Read our full review of Hotel Yadanarbon.
M3@sunwinner Hotel is a newish, five-storey building painted bright scarlet and right in the thick of things offering spotless rooms at reasonable rates. If you're wondering about the name, their brochure’s explains that the M3 stands for men, management and materials; they don’t say what ‘sunwinner’ refers to. The all-air-con rooms come with cable TV, minibar, WiFi and the... Read our full review of M3@sunwinner Hotel.
A large, longstanding hotel directly opposite Mandalay railway station, Pacific’s a good, no-frills flashpacker option with plenty of rooms. It’s been around a bit and the facade’s on the shabby side, but room interiors have clearly seen a make-over not too long ago and are acceptably maintained, if lacking in much style. The very friendly staff members and the well-appointed rooms... Read our full review of Pacific Hotel.
The Rich Queen, in a beige four-storey building with ubiquitous rooftop cafe, is a cheap and cheerful option for backpackers. You don't get much for under $20 in Burma, but this isn't a bad deal, either. The hotel front looks onto the street but there’s not too much traffic, so rooms are bright and not so noisy. Rear ones are faced by a neighbouring building and are decidedly on the dingy... Read our full review of Rich Queen Guesthouse.
A profusion of very similar looking hotels in Mandalay makes it difficult to know what interiors might hold, but as soon as you pass the front door into the very well decorated lobby of Royal City you can see an effort has been made here. The result is definitely an above average pick for the flashpacker category. Royal City is a popular spot and we visited twice, during low season, without... Read our full review of Royal City Hotel.
The popular Royal Guest House offers a small number of budget rooms and while it's basic, staff are friendly and prices are good. Royal is just around the corner from busy 83rd Street so while it's a quieter location it's still very well positioned. Despite looking straight onto the footpath it does have a bit of style with a few plants and benches out front, so it's more welcoming than some... Read our full review of Royal Guest House.
Nylon Hotel is nestled in a group of no-frills 83rd Street budget addresses. The popular and longstanding hotel—guesthouse would be more accurate—is something of a Mandalay backpacker institution, with six storeys of rooms, above which a rooftop cafe area with fine views is a good spot to meet other travellers. The Nylon has clearly been doing well since you’ll now also find New Nylon... Read our full review of Nylon Hotel.