So you’ve heard about our transportation organization, now here is our accommodation coordination! Thankfully with sites such as Tripadvisor and Agoda, booking accommodation in Myanmar was not as difficult, in fact it was pretty damn easy!
For Yangon we opted to stay at Hotel Accord because of the good rating they received on Tripadvisor and Agoda as well as the fact that they were very reasonably priced. An added bonus was that the hotel was within walking distance from Shwedagon Pagoda, which was perfect for our plans to watch the sunrise there.
We arrived at Yangon on Friday evening, 8 April and were a bit shell-shocked as we had issues with immigration (more on that in another post), had to two cranky and hungry kids in tow and we weren’t feeling so fresh either. While we had managed to book one room for the four of us for two nights ($115 USD per night, including additional bed), the person at the front desk advised that the room was small and offered to upgrade us to a larger room at no additional cost. That was a pleasant surprise, I’m guessing it was because they weren’t busy due to not as many tourists being as crazy as us to travel during Thingyan or maybe they are just that helpful. She then suggested a nearby restaurant for dinner called House of Memories (more on that in another blog post), which was literally less than a 10 minute walk from the hotel. She even provided us with a map! Having this courtesy and helpfulness upon arrival was much appreciated and it would be interesting to see if it is something they consistently do.
The hotel itself is relatively new so everything seemed shiny and in good order. This is another thing that will be interesting to see as time goes on and the natural wear and tear sets in. Hopefully they can keep everything in good condition. Be it noted that the hotel was very, very clean. Here is the overall skinny:
- While not in the heart of the city, the location is close to Shwedagon Pagoda and a few restaurants. The hotel staff can help you secure a taxi as well. Just ensure you keep a map with the hotel location clearly marked when you need to find your way back home.
- The staff were courteous and super helpful throughout our stay. A majority of the staff speak English fluently or at least very well. At one point there was a misunderstanding (which in the end was my fault); however, they maintained a very professional and pleasant attitude when addressing the situation. Also, prior to our arrival, they were great at answering any questions we had regarding Yangon. Their responses were always prompt and professional.
- The breakfast was nothing fancy, but there was something for both carnivores and vegetarians. Also, the buffet was well-maintained and tidy.
- The rooms are on the smaller side, but hopefully you are in Yangon to site see and not spend all day in your room.
- The accept credit cards and their credit card machine was working when we checked out.
Sunrise at Shwedagon
For our stay in Bagan we opted for Hotel Arthawka. We chose it for the great reviews, very reasonable pricing ($49 USD per night for a Superior room +Breakfast) and the fact that has a swimming pool.
We arrived via bus around 6:00am and took a taxi from the bus station to the hotel. I have to note that I am grateful that the hotel staff confirmed that the fare from the bus station to their hotel should be around 7,000 kyat (roughly $6 USD) as we had to haggle with the taxi driver who wanted to charge us more than double that. Upon arrival at the hotel they were able to set us up in one of the rooms available for early check-in, which was great because while we were able to sleep on the bus, we had a “not so fresh feeling” and a shower did us all good. Breakfast wasn’t included with early check-in; however, we paid a small fee to to access the buffet that morning (I think it was $4 USD).
The hotel itself is a bit older; however, it is very well cared for. We noticed the owner making his rounds to ensure everything is in order and chatting with customers. Here’s the overview on our experience:
- Very courteous and helpful staff that speak good English. If you don’t book activities or transportation (e.g. horse cart, taxi, e-bikes, etc.) prior to arriving, they can assist you and they are very transparent with the pricing as they have a list of services you can review. Also, from what we saw, the pricing they negotiate for the customers are fair and reasonable. I wish I would have known this before we booked our overpriced driver from Bagan to Inle. Also, if you have questions prior to your stay, they are very responsive to emails.
- They are within walking distance from various restaurants and bars. There is a Sky bar on the roof, but I would only recommend it for drinks and bar snacks as the main meals were nothing special. They were a bit like airplane meals.
- The rooms are on the larger side, very spacious although the rooms we had didn’t get a lot of natural sunlight, we spent most of our time outside of the room exploring Bagan or in the pool.
- The breakfast was basic with a decent selection for both Western and Asian palates. It was well-kept and clean and the kids were happy to get made-to-order waffles on one of the mornings.
- Be prepared for the occasional black-out as electricity is not always 100% outside of Yangon.
- They accept credit cards.
We chose Golden Island Cottages Nampan Hotel because of the great reviews and very reasonable pricing ($125 USD per night for deluxe bungalow, including extra bed). This was actually a bit of a splash out for us; however, we wanted to do something a bit special for the last leg of our trip to Myanmar.
It was a challenging to actually get to the hotel using Google maps and we tried calling, but no one would answer and no one answered our emails as well; however, in the end we found that the number (095 812 09 551), which is a mobile number worked. Through a series of phone calls and even getting our driver on the phone, we managed to find out how to get there, which was by starting at their Thal U location and then taking a boat to the Golden Island Cottages Nampan Hotel (8,000 kyat, roughly $7 USD).
So after that rough start of confirming where to be and how to get there, we were so pleased to be greeted at the Golden Island Cottages Thal U location when refreshing beverages and a smile. We paid for the boat upon arrival and were lead to the dock where we would leave. We had arrived about an hour before sunset so we had the opportunity to view the sunset on our 30/45 minute ride to Golden Island Cottages Nampan.
Here is the overall skinny on Golden Island Cottages Nampan:
- The staff were very courteous, friendly and helpful, and most of the staff spoke English well. Be it noted that they were non-responsive to my email queries regarding hiring a boat; however, they must have read them because they had noted us for boat hire on their hotel records. Hopefully they can work this out in the future, ensuring they respond to emails. Other than that, they were able to assist us with all of our transportation needs.
- The bungalows are huge, clean and very well-kept. Quite literally, we walked in and all exclaimed a collective “wow”! There was a porch on the front from which we could view the sunset and a porch in the back from which we could view the sunrise. Note that we asked for one of the bungalows in the back (300s, we were in 308) as from what we read, the noise of the boats and their morning commutes are not as bad if you are in the right bungalows.
- The location is a bit remote and it is slightly annoying not having any other dining options in the evening; however, if you plan out your days well and are dining out in the day it isn’t so bad. Be it noted that their menu is quite pricey comparatively speaking vs. restaurants and/or stores (e.g. one large Myanmar beer at the hotel will cost you 4,000 kyat (roughly $3.50 USD) vs. paying 1,500 kyat (roughly $1.30) in town), BUT that is to be expected at hotels so you could come prepared to spend or bring your own as they have small refrigerators in the room.
- The breakfast was basic and for two days they did a made to order (choice between Asian breakfast and Western breakfast) because it was during the holiday so the hotel only had a few customers and they did not have as many staff on hand. The restaurant facilities were clean and the food (although basic) was good. Our kids were craving western fare at the end of the trip and it seems their spaghetti with tomato sauce was a winner, the pizza not so much.
- One again, the location is remote, but it is so beautiful. So very, very beautiful and we loved hearing the chanting from the nearby temple and sleeping with the windows open at night with a cool breeze coming in. It was perfect for the peace and quiet we wanted.
- They accept credit cards; however, their machine was down when we were there. Oddly enough, I noticed on reviews that other customers experienced that too so have cash on hand and track your spend!
Sunrise from our back porch