A cheap dorm
64 32nd St, Downtown Yangon T: (01) 385 728
The outside of Okinawa Guesthouse is a very pleasant change to the surrounding streets. The entrance to this foliage-surrounded building is down a side street off Mahabandoola Road, and only a stone’s throw from Sule Pagoda. This curtains-for-walls guesthouse is one of the cheapest you’ll find in Yangon (Rangoon) but is nevertheless charming.
Its exterior is welcoming, with plants framing the entrance, and a subtle Hindu temple carries on next door. The interior is dark, and there’s a historical sort of energy and bizarre mixture of styles in the building. The most bizarre feature? Probably a distinct lack of walls where they should be…
The singles and doubles with air-con and private bath are better value than most other guesthouses downtown, but there are only a few of these; singles go for US$25 and doubles for US$30, plus there’s a triple option for US$40. Fan rooms are only a smidgen cheaper, starting at US$23 — better value for your dollar can be found at this level elsewhere in Yangon. Rooms are quite clean, though dim (so who knows really!), and come with adequate furniture such as as desk and table — bathrooms have only cold showers, but Western toilets.
Be warned that fan rooms often don’t actually have proper walls; they just have mattresses on the ground sectioned off with a flapping sheet or a mosquito net.
Luckily the building is so dark temperatures are not only kept down but prying eyes should be kept to a minimum as well.
If you’re on a true backpacker budget, you can lay down in the dorm room for US$8. Be warned: the dorm simply consists of one room with four mattresses on the ground, all pushed together.
Downstairs is what they call a lounge, with a TV playing movies next to a book stand. Staff are casual and friendly, and watch on from behind their desk or among the crowd, a sign of this being a real backpacker hub. A small breakfast is included but there’s no real dedicated space to sit and eat.
What Okinawa really has going for it is its location. Turn left as you leave and the road takes you to Merchant Road, street markets and the harbour on the other side of Strand Road. Take a right instead and 50 metres away is Sule Pagoda in all its glory and bus stops. Local tea shops, restaurants and beer stations are scattered along the path in both directions.
Okinawa Guesthouse is not ideal for people keen on having privacy or much comfort, but the atmosphere, charm and energy of the place partnered with its price and great location make it good enough for many budget travellers.
By Christopher Smith
Last updated on 2nd October, 2013.