Bright colors, exotic aromas, and smiling faces will make a lasting impression when you visit Yangon, formerly named Rangoon. Myanmar, also known as Burma, is becoming more and more popular as word gets out about Myanmar tourist attractions. While the Myanmar capital lies farther north in Naypyidaw, Yangon hosts the international airport which means that anyone who is going to go traveling around Myanmar will likely spend a day or two in this growing metropolis. There are a number of hotels, hostels, and guesthouses available so it can be overwhelming to know where to start. If you want to know how to choose your Yangon accommodation, check out the tips below.
Select Your Price Range
Yangon is a place that can cater to all lifestyles. From budget to luxury, anyone can find a Yangon accommodation that fits their needs. Rooms in shared hostels start at less than $5 a night and sleeping off your jetlag in The Strand will cost you more than $200. In order to narrow down your options, it’s best to narrow down a price range and then decide where you want to be.
Chose an Area
There are so many different neighborhoods with their own charm. Depending on what your goals are while you are visiting Yangon, you may choose one of these three areas as a home base for your stay.
The downtown area is the farthest from the airport but has the most going on. If you stay downtown, it’s likely you will walk out of your hotel and have various options available for food, shopping, and transportation. The only negatives are the noise and the traffic! But if you can look past those small setbacks, look for a place near Sule Pagoda, or Chinatown.
What’s downtown Yangon
If you stay in this area you will be able to easily walk to some of the main attractions like Maha Bandula Park, Yangon City Hall, and Bogyoke Aung Sung Market. One of the most famous luxury hotels in this area is the Sule Shangri La. If you are looking for a mid-range accommodation, Sule-Sapphire Inn is just a few minutes walk with a fair price and hospitable staff. There are plenty of hostels nearby like Backpacker Bed and Breakfast, or 30th Corner Boutique Hostel.
Dagon, in the west side of Yangon, is one of the most flourishing areas of the city since it boasts the biggest claim to fame, the 2.500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda. Gloriously lit up at night, Shwedagon is covered in gold and accented with precious stones like diamonds. It is the main attraction in Myanmar and tourists are drawn to it because of its incredible beauty and spiritual charm. Nearby you can also visit People’s Park and Kandawgyi Lake to enjoy a bit of nature in the city. For an upscale accommodation, check out Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake and Kandawgyi Palace Hotel. In the more mid-level you can try out the Merchant Art Residence, or Sky View hotel. There are fewer options for the backpackers in this area but Bodhi Nava Boutique Hostel and the Pickled Tea Hostel are nearby.
Inya Lake is a growing area of Yangon, closer to the airport and quieter than the downtown area. You can get downtown in a taxi for $5 or less, and for the more adventurous there are city buses that cost less than $1. You can reach a few popular Pagodas from this area on foot like the famous reclining Buddha, Chauk Htat Gyi Buddha Temple, and Ngar Htat Gyi Pagoda. Both are very different experiences from Shwedagon.
What’s near Inya Lake
Many expats can be found in the nearest mall, Myanmar Plaza. It is one of a few popular places for nightlife with Hard Rock Café and FUSE nightclub on a 4th-floor terrace. Meliá and Sedona Hotel Yangon are two upscale options in this area. There are fewer midrange hotels in this area but Koo Hotel is a modern option that is within walking distance to Myanmar Plaza. For the budget traveler, you can find a bed in T Venus BNB or Yangon Hub.
Where is the public transportation in Yangon
If your Myanmar travel itinerary includes further travel by bus, the Inya Lake area will be the closest to the bus station, but be aware it is still more than 30 minutes by taxi. The airport is also nearby, but traffic is still an issue and can take 40 minutes or more in transit.
How to Book
Online booking is widely used throughout Myanmar and the sites allow you to filter down the areas I have mentioned. In my experience, booking Myanmar accommodations online has been less expensive than trying to book directly with the hotels. While the websites offer deals and discounts the hotel staff are generally unwilling to negotiate and will stick with the nightly fee.
What to look for
Everyone has different priorities when it comes to selecting their accommodations. In Myanmar, you are not going to be able to depend on reliable Wi-Fi, so I recommend crossing that off your list of requirements and just making the small investment in a local SIM. Depending on your travel style you have to decide if you are willing to share a bathroom. Even in mid-range hotels, it is not uncommon to come across rooms that do not have an ensuite bathroom and require you to share with other travelers. Air Conditioning is something that most travelers will require in the Yangon climate so make sure it is listed as an amenity in the individual room you are booking. Some hotels have rooms with just fans. Other things to consider are a 24-hour reception, and if there is free breakfast or a restaurant on site. I recommend light sleepers bring a pair of earplugs and sleeping mask as soundproofing and blackout shades do not seem to be common.
When to book
During the main tourist season (November to February) you may need to reserve your Yangon accommodation in advance in order to have the most options available. In the off-season, it’s easy to find a place and I often booked my rooms the day before or even while standing in the lobby of the hotel I chose.
In a nutshell, you can’t go wrong visiting Yangon. Each area has something to see and affordable taxis are available to take you anywhere you want to go. Just enter the country with an open mind and big smile and you will love traveling around Myanmar!