Boutique Accommodations in Myanmar
Compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, Myanmar is considered by many to be more expensive when it comes to their accommodation options – mostly due to the fact that there is limited supply to meet the growing demand. In fact, in Myanmar’s high tourist season (November and December), you may need to book months in advance to guarantee a place in your preferred hotels. We travelled in March, which was very hot and very dry, but also meant we had no problem securing the best rooms and hotels wherever we went. It also meant there were much fewer tourists, which was a bonus, particularly in Inle Lake. But even with the relatively higher cost compared to other countries in the region, by North American standards, even the more luxurious boutique accommodations are very affordable.
SAVECLASSIQUE INN B&B, Yangon www.classique-inn.com You’re probably not planning on spending a lot of time in busy, crowded, traffic-snarled Yangon, so why spend a lot of money on the hotel. This little B&B is in a quiet residential neighbourhood, and despite having tiny rooms, is very clean, and offers a great breakfast in a nice little garden out front. You will need a taxi, though, if you want to go into town.
STAYAMAZING BAGAN RESORT, Bagan www.bagangolfresort.net Even if you visit Bagan in the greener months of November and December, Bagan is still hot and the dirt roads around the temples in the archaeological zone are still dusty, and this hotel is one of the few that offers a great pool to cool off in. The rooms are clean and very large, the staff are lovely, and you can catch a marionette show in the dining room pretty much on demand (puppeteering is a popular form of traditional Myanmar entertainment). There’s also an ATM on-site, which can come in handy, and the little town of Nyaung-U, where you’ll find plenty of affordable places to eat, is an easy bicycle ride away (or about a 20 minute walk).
STAYPOPA MOUNTAIN RESORT, Bagan www.myanmartreasureresorts.com/location-5/popa-mountain/ This hotel is part of a group that has properties in all of the most popular tourist destinations, but each property still feels unique and boutique in its design and amenities. Mt. Popa’s advantage is definitely its position high up on a mountainside, overlooking the valley’s main attraction, “Taung Kalat”, a sheer-sided volcanic plug topped by a monastery reachable only by climbing 777 steps. The breezes off the mountains, the panoramic views from the rooms’ teak verandahs, and the shaded infinity pool make for a very relaxing and soothing stay (even if the washrooms are showing a wee bit of wear and tear). If you’ve come all this way to climb to the monastery, climb a little further and enjoy the view from even higher up – versus spending another 2 hours going back to Bagan to sleep.
SPLURGEMYANMAR TREASURE RESORT, Inle Lake www.myanmartreasureresorts.com/location-2/inle/ A visit to Myanmar is sure to include Inle Lake, famous for the Intha people who live on, fish in, and farm the lake. So you might as well get the whole experience and stay at a hotel that gives you the chance to sleep in a stilted over-water bungalow yourself – without having to go all the way to Bora Bora! (My first thought when our boat approached the resort was ‘We’re staying HERE?!”) The rooms are beautifully decorated and private, the bathrooms are huge, well-appointed, and even include an outdoor shower and deck where you can watch the sun set, if you score a room facing the lake. The resort’s location at the north end of the lake means it is a good half hour by boat from the tourist sites further south, but also means it is a much shorter ride to the town of Nyaung Shwe, where you will need to go when you (reluctantly) have to leave the resort to make your next land or air connection.
STAYRUPAR MANDALAR, Mandalay www.ruparmandalar.com If you don’t need to be in the heart of Mandalay’s downtown (and I’m not sure why you’d want to be), and instead are using the city as a base for taking day trips in the area, this boutique hotel is a beautiful little oasis to come back to. Complete with a gorgeous lap pool (adult-depth!), swim-up pool bar and full fitness facilities as well as a spa, you’ll want to spend some time here, not just a quick overnight touchdown. The grounds are pretty, the teak rooms are large yet intimate, with fresh flowers, and complimentary fruit baskets, and the service feels personal and genuine. Let’s just say after a 2-day visit to hike the hills of Hsipaw, we couldn’t wait to return to the Rupar to rejuvenate before continuing our travels.
STAYAMARA MOUNTAIN RESORT, Kalaw www.amaragroup.net/mountain/mountain-en/ Everything you’ve read on Trip Advisor about this hotel and its surroundings is true: one look and you’ll feel like you’re in a little English hamlet, not in the hills of a Southeast Asian country! The tudor styled stucco cottages, the fireplaces in each room, even the gardens themselves will make you think you’re continents away from the Myanmar of stupa-studded Bagan. Like the town of Kalaw where it is located, the resort is well-organized and established, and the service from the staff was excellent. It also had my vote for the best bed that we slept in (especially the linens and the super-comfy downy pillows!) And the affordable price meant you could sleep easy on that point, as well.
SCORE!TAI HOUSE, Hsipaw www.taihouseresort.com If you’re coming to Hsipaw, you’re probably coming to hike. So when it comes to where to stay, you can join the younger backpacker set at Mr. Charles Guesthouse near the end of the main street, or you can stay in a more grownup option, the newer Tai House, with its individual bungalows and pretty flagstone paths. The rooms are small, but the washrooms are spotless and new, and the dining room in the main building probably offers the quietest ambiance that you’ll find for eating. (the other options being restaurants on the main street which may offer decent food, but zero atmosphere). The added bonus was a wonderful manager who gave us a ‘cheat sheet’ to help us learn a few expressions in the Shan language spoken here. A friendly, comfortable stay with zero regrets.
STAYPLEASANT VIEW RESORT, Ngapali Beach www.pvrngapali.com This resort gets my vote for the best location on Ngapali beach because of its unique restaurant located on a rocky islet just off-shore – the best spot to enjoy a sundowner, beach lunch, or romantic dinner, and only steps away from your beach chair at low tide. But when the tide comes in, you may need to hike your skirt and wade a few steps to reach the island (there is also a little raft to float you the 30 feet if absolutely necessary, but where’s the fun in that?). The resort itself consists of 42 rooms in one and two-story buildings built around palm trees and well-kept grounds. We had a beachfront bungalow which was large with high ceilings, tons of windows, a spacious bathroom and individual deck. Neither super-luxurious, nor too basic, this resort struck the perfect balance for the casual laid-back vibe that is perfect for a relaxing beach stay at the end of a busy Myanmar itinerary. And if you want to see how the local fishing village goes about its daily routine, walk a few hundred yards to the left.
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