I’ve been reading for months that tourists are flooding into
Burma Myanmar. People are coming because it’s the next new, new place. It’s Thailand thirty years ago, before the thongs of budget-travellers and beach-lovers began to flock there. For years, backpackers and intrepid tourist have been coming to Myanmar and they have witnessed a culture and way of life that was authentic, genuine and largely unchanged. And they were able to visit a country that was easy on the wallet. But, what I’ve discovered is that Myanmar is no longer a “hidden gem” and tourists and travellers alike are flocking to this country in SE Asia. And this has resulted in a huge flight and accommodation crunch as there just isn’t the tourist infrastructure to support all the visitors. So, where are we going to sleep?!
I read horror stories online about people showing up and not being able to find a bed. Travellers would spend half a day in search of a cheap accommodation or a hostel and some would still end up crashed in the lobby of a full hotel. I started booking places months ago and even with seven months to spare, I was still locked out of the first places I tried! I did end up with bookings though, at double the prices from 2011, but with places that looked decent for us to call home for a few days. Double rooms at about $30-40 per room for two people or larger rooms at $60 for the four of us. I’d call them the upper budget offerings.
Imagine my shock when I got an email from our inn in Yangon, doubling our price. This hotel originally wanted $60 for a corner room (one double bed, one single and one added cot). Their new price for this room – the exact same room – was $120! This for a decent, but still budget, hotel in Myanmar where many people earn just a few dollars a week. This for a room that just two years ago was $30 or less. I’ve got entire apartments rented in developed cities like Auckland and Dubai for that amount of money and this small, basic hotel in Yangon wanted us to pay that for one crowded room that was lacking in luxuries? I felt like that had me over a barrel, as I’d heard accommodation was still tight.
I thought about it a bit more and decided that it felt too much like price gouging. I took to the internet and emailed a few alternative places. One friendly place has two double rooms with air-con and attached bath for $30 per room or $60 altogether for the four of us. It looks a bit more down market, but the price feels more fair. There are plenty of times when we’ll be paying more than $100-150+ a night, especially when we get to Europe, but in those cases we’re in more expensive locations and we’ll be getting more, such as a whole apartment, laundry facilities or an attached kitchen. I don’t mind paying for value. I just don’t want to feel ripped off. So I voted with my wallet and have moved on to somewhere else. Let’s hope it works out.