What made this trip special to me is that I didn’t book any hostels, guesthouses nor hotels beforehand. For seasoned backpackers this is probably nothing new, but for me, it certainly is. I wanted to feel that “safe worry” of not knowing whether I’ll be sleeping on the streets or knocking at the door of a house asking for an extra space to sleep in. I achieved that feeling and, luckily, I didn’t sleep on the pavements.
It was easy to find a guesthouse in each tourist town. Finding doesn’t mean there’s an available room though. It was also safe to ask the taxi drivers to bring you to different hostels. I was all for anything cheap (and safe). I didn’t go to Myanmar to spend the entire day sleeping on a bed anyway.
Listed below are the guesthouses where I stayed. I’ve added a little bit of information of the guest houses and some photos that may help you decide if you want to stay or look for another one. You can also check tripadvisor for other reviews of these guesthouses.
Chan Myaye Guesthouse (Yangon, Myanmar)
Contact No: +95-1-382-022, 255-860, +95-9-730-27-373
Address: No. 256/276, Maha Bandoola Garden Street (Bar St), (UP Block), Kyauktada Tsp, Yangon Myanmar
Have’s: Wi-fi, hot shower, breakfast, aircon beside each bed, lamp, universal electric socket.
Price: $12 for a bed in their dormitory
I stayed in their dormitory. It was the first guesthouse of my trip and I was fortunate that the taxi driver (Thiha) recommended me this guest house. It was very clean and the staff are really friendly and accommodating. They have private rooms as well. By the looks of it, they are expanding their dormitory space.
The place is at the third floor of the building, which doesn’t have an elevator, so if you have problems climbing up the stairs, this may not be suitable for you. Who doesn’t want stair exercise anyway? They have a nice sense of humour though. 🙂
It is located downtown and is near to other guesthouses so you won’t have a problem if they don’t have any available room/bed. It is also near the other tourist spots, such as, Sule Pagoda, Maha Bandula Park, Strand Road (where all the colonial buildings can be found), etc.
Winner Guesthouse (Bagan, Myanmar)
Contact No: +95-061-610-69
Address: Bagan-Nyaung Oo Main Road, Wet Kyi In, Bagan, Myanmar
Have’s: unreliable Wi-fi, hot shower, breakfast, mosquito net, ceiling fan 🙂
I first contacted May Kha Lar Guesthouse because that was the first place recommended by Chan Myaye staff. Unfortunately, they didn’t have an available room so I tried the second recommendation, which is Winner guesthouse. I stayed in a single room where the public bathroom is outside. My room was one of the older rooms so I didn’t expect much. They have new ones with airconditioning units, but it would be crazy to use the aircondition because the weather there is really cold!
The room that I got is just beside the reception area, which is adjacent to the front yard. The noise from the people arriving in the morning or those who are chit-chatting while they’re having breakfast can be clearly heard in the room. It was not too difficult to sleep anyway especially after one whole day of biking.
My room has a mosquito net and a ceiling fan although there weren’t really alot of mosquitoes nor insects at night.
The bathrooms are clean. There are some shower rooms where the hot shower isn’t working.
One of the owners has a tendency to be agitated when so many people are talking to her so try to approach her when no one is around. Bring your best-est smile (it worked for me all the time!) .It’s also best to buy your bus ticket and Mt. Popa tour from them so that the bus can pick you up at the guesthouse itself.
The winning part of this place is definitely the location. It’s midway Old Bagan and New Bagan so you can have one whole day to explore Old Bagan and you can have one-half day to explore New Bagan. It’s also beside so many restaurants. One of the restaurants there, where a snake fell from the tree, Pyin Sone, has a working wi-fi. If you prefer to have a 1000Ks meal, you can go to the food stall right across the guesthouse.
Royal Guesthouse (Mandalay, Myanmar)
Contact No.: +95-9-5265697, +95-2-31400
Address: No. 41, 25th Street, Between 82nd and 83rd Street, Mandalay, Myanmar
Have’s: wi-fi, breakfast, hot shower, wall fan
When I was in Bagan, I tried calling Royal guesthouse to check if they have an available room. They told me that all the rooms were occupied. I knew that I won’t be feeling well by the time I reach Mandalay so I started calling the other hotels in Mandalay eventhough their price is slightly more expensive. On the day I’m about to leave Bagan, I called the guesthouse again. I was hoping that some guest will back out and free up his/her room. Indeed, somebody did! 🙂
The staff is very welcoming. I stayed in a single room with shared public bathroom. If you are claustrophobic (fear of small spaces), then their single room may not be for you. They have windows but it’s blocked by the wall of the adjacent building. The toilets are clean although the tiles are old so they look dirty eventhough they aren’t.
Although the power blackout isn’t frequent, this guesthouse has a generator. The breakfast is the typical egg, bread toast and banana.
It seems that the bus ticket going to Nyaung Shwe (Inle lake) is cheaper to buy here than the other hotels or guesthouses.
Sein Kyaw Inn (Pyin Oo Lwin)
Contact No.: +95-9-471-29555, +95-85-21349
Address: Their address is in Burmese, so I’d suggest to print their name card instead. You can download their business card here: Download biz card.
Have’s: queen-size bed, private bathroom with very hot shower, TV with cable channels
There’s a nice story behind my stay in this guesthouse. Actually, I didn’t know about this place and didn’t plan to stay here. I was looking for the Royal Flower guesthouse on the way to Pying Oo Lwin but the taxi driver didn’t know the place. I sent an SMS to the owner of Royal Flower but he didn’t reply on time. While the taxi driver was asking his friends about Royal Flower, the lady seated at the front seat of the taxi told the driver to bring me to Sein Kyaw Inn. Then she told me that she owns the guesthouse (apart from the International Private school). I already had a feeling that she is rich because when the taxi was about to pick her up in Mandalay, she had two assistants carrying her two small bags. I was expecting a poodle in the bag, but that never happened. To cut the story short, she gave me a $2 discount on the accommodation fee and arranged a motorbike driver to bring me around.
I stayed in a big room with a queen-size bed, a private bathroom with hot shower, and a TV that has Star sports and ESPN channels. I only paid $10 for this. In contrast, I was supposed to spend $25 for the Royal Flower guesthouse. The only small problem with this place is that most of the staff can’t speak English. The only person who speaks good English is the guy doing the night shift. They don’t have internet connection too, which is fine with me since I’ll be staying there only for one night.
Aside from arranging the motorbike, they also helped me book the taxi back to Mandalay. On my last day there, the owner gave me a treat to her favorite strawberry juice shop probably because on the day I arrived in Pyin Oo Lwin, the first question I asked her was, “Where can I buy the best strawberry fruit juice here?”
Garden Hotel (Mandalay, Myanmar)
Contact No.: +95-2-31884, +95-2-66584, +95-2-65707, +95-2-22733
Address: No. 174, 83rd Street between 24th and 25th Street, Mandalay Myanmar
Have’s: wi-fi, breakfast, hot shower
Download business card
When I got a room in Royal Guesthouse, it was only for one night so I had to search for another place to stay after I come back from Pyin Oo Lwin. Luckily, there are a few hotels around the area and one of which is Garden hotel.
I had a private room with two single beds and a ceiling fan. The room is at level 5 and there’s no elevator in the building. It has windows which are not blocked by walls. There’s a slight gloomy feeling in the room but it’s clean and manageable. There are two bathrooms and are shared by all guests in level 5. The toilet is clean, the hot shower is working and there’s a pair of slippers that can be used.
I could have saved more money if I managed to find another person to share the room with me, but $13 is still within my budget. The breakfast here is the typical egg, bread toasts with butter and jam, and fruits.
Gypsy Inn (Nyaungshwe, Inle)
Address: Nyaungshwe, Inle lake
Have’s: wi-fi, breakfast, hot shower
Price: $20 (shared the room with a fellow traveller)
This place was the last option that I had in Nyaungshwe (Inle lake). Our bus arrived in Shwenyaung junction around 4 in the morning. I quickly braved myself to find three people who would like to share the taxi with me since Nyaung Shwe town is 20 mins away from the junction. Coincidentally, the three people in the taxi didn’t book for a place to stay too. So we went around the town, knocking and waking up the staff of each guesthouse. All were fully booked except for Gypsy hotel–of course I’m discounting those hotels that are priced $100 per night.
The place is near the river stop where Inle boat trips depart. The owner has an aggressive voice, which maybe he’s not aware of. They offer the typical breakfast: egg, bread toast with butter and jam, coffee/tea and some fruits. The room is clean as well as the toilet. The hot shower is not working though. You have to leave it running for 5 mins before you feel a less colder water. The lights sometimes work and sometimes don’t. There is an aircon although I’m not sure if it’s working. The place is too cold to use the aircon anyway.
I bought here the bus ticket to Yangon. I found out that it’s $1 more expensive than those sold in Remember Inn.
One night after staying here, my new buddy Johnny found an available room in Remember Inn so we immediately packed our bags and moved there.
Contact No.: +95-81-209257, +95-9-521-4070, +95-9-49-3600-44
Address: Haw Street, Nandawon Quarter, Nyaungshwe, Myanmar
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Have’s: wi-fi, breakfast, hot shower
Price: $25 (shared the room with a fellow traveller)
The staff here are friendly and accommodating. We stayed in a big room with a single and a queen-size bed and a private bathroom. There are large windows as well so the room feels very bright during day time. The hot shower works too, the only issue is the colony of ants crawling in the bathroom. The breakfast is at the 5th floor with an alfresco dining area. They have more breakfast choices than the previous guesthouses that I stayed: a) pancake set, b) egg with toasted bread, c) shan noodles, d) asian meal
What probably made me love this inn is that they have the New Year’s Eve party and free buffet dinner! They had a small NYE program for their staff and had a raffle contest. Honestly, it was during the giving of prizes that made me realize something and that made me feel that this inn takes good care of their staff. 🙂
If you want to know how we celebrated New Year’s Eve (2014) there, watch the video below.
Contact No.: +95-57-60285, +95-9-498-18038
Address: Near Jam Shop, Kyaik Hti Yoe Pagoda Road, Kinpun Camp, Base of Mt. Kyaikhtiyo
Price: $8 (shared bathroom with no hot shower)
There were two choices for me, either go to Sea Sar Guesthouse or Pann Myo Thu Inn. I decided to go to Pann Myo Thu Inn because I was welcomed by the young manager right after I alighted from the bus. 🙂
The $8 room is not so clean and you can hear the whispers in the other rooms. The shared toilet is not clean too and there’s no hot shower. There’s a ceiling fan though and a bed. The $15 room is much nicer and has a clean private bathroom with hot shower. Despite that, I still chose the $8 room because I wanted to use (for the first time!) the sleeping bag that I brought for the trip.
The breakfast was the typical egg and bread toast. The owner was very nice and accommodating too although he likes to sleep alot leaving the house open to anyone who wants to enter. He also helped me purchase a bus ticket back to Yangon. You can also ask him the best places to eat and other places to trek.
During my stay, the town has frequent short power outages especially at night. This worries me because I normally take a bath at night. So when I was about to hit the shower, I brought a flashlight with me and devised a very complex plan on how to bathe so that I won’t be left in the dark blinded by the soap foams.
Overall, my experience with these guesthouses were memorable and good. I’m not that picky anyway. As long as I don’t see any cockroaches crawling on the bed and I don’t wake up with bedbug bites, I’m good.
If you are interested to know how much money I spent backpacking alone in this country for two weeks, read my post: How Much Budget Do You Need to Travel Solo for Two Weeks in Myanmar?
Please don’t hesitate to ask me any of your questions regarding these guesthouses. 🙂