Booking accommodation in Myanmar used to be much more complicated than it is today. Most hotels were government-run, meaning your hard-earned dollars would go directly into the hands of the ruling military junta. While the country still has a long way to go on its path to democracy – and you still have to be careful about where you spend your money – government-independent and local-run businesses are on the rise, so do your research to support the people rather than those in power.
And hey, I’ve done some of the groundwork for you! On your next visit to Yangon, you can sleep soundly knowing your stay is responsible at the Pickled Tea Hostel.
Opened in December 2014, the Pickled Tea was started by a young Burmese man named Eric who grew up in Los Angeles. He would often visit his family back in Myanmar, which inspired his desire to create a comfortable space for visitors to enjoy his family’s home.
In three short years, it has quickly become the top-rated hostel in Myanmar for its security and convenience, excellent location, and affordability in a notoriously expensive city. And the local staff could not be any sweeter.
Spread out over two floors, all of the rooms are named after popular destinations in Myanmar. You can choose between 4- and 6-bed mixed dorms (4-bed female dorms also available), a private single or double with shared bathrooms, or a private ensuite – complete with your own bathroom and work space.
All of the décor is clean and simple, offering you a quiet respite to rest your head after a full day of exploring. Oh, and did I mention there are rain showers?
Seriously, there is nothing more satisfying than feeling a rain shower wash away the sweat from a day under the Southeast Asian sun. Although, you could argue the full, authentic Burmese breakfast at the Pickled Tea is a close second.
Make sure you get down to the lobby between 8-10am for the most beautiful Burmese breakfast spread. I was slightly apprehensive to dig in upon first glance, but quickly realized the deliciousness set before me. The lovely staff was sweet enough to write down all of the offerings for me, so you can get an idea for what to order at the street carts throughout the country:
Mont Lone Gyi – Sticky Dumpling (pictured in the middle of the white plate)
Kauk Hnyin Poung – Sticky Rice with Boiled Beans (far right on white plate)
Kyauk Kyol – Traditional Jelly (far left on white plate)
Mont Kywe Thae – Jaggery Jelly (far right on blue plate)
Mont Sane Poung – Traditional Rice Cake (not pictured, but you can imagine)
Bane Mont will Butter – Burma Pancake (not pictured, but a serious must-try!)
After breakfast, the lobby is a great place to hang out if you need to get some work done. I was a mess running around trying to get good wifi in the coffee shops around Yangon, and would usually just give up and head back to the Pickled Tea.
I made friends with another girl that was camped out at the outdoor tables on a long stay, studying the Burmese language and writing her dissertation on the religion and spirituality of the country.
I did my own reading up on as much as I could about its history thanks to the lobby’s book library. You’re encouraged to trade out books with other travelers, while the hostel provides a lot of great material about the country and how to make the most of your time there.
Being within walking distance of Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the hostel’s biggest draws. In fact, the entire Sanchuang neighborhood and surrounding areas are full of a lot of great restaurants, so you can fuel yourself before or after a visit to the most stunning golden pagoda in all of Southeast Asia. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
Fingers Food Garden – Go for the lahpet (tea leaf salad), and stay for the ice cream. This little hole in the wall has one of the biggest menus in town, with cheap prices to boot and some of the best food I tasted throughout the whole trip.
Vista Rooftop Bar – Get sweeping views of the Shwedagon Pagoda from this swanky rooftop bar. Order your favorite flavor of shisha and a cold drink to enjoy a few leisurely hours taking in the shining jewel of Yangon.
Danuphyu Daw Saw Yee Myanmar Restaurant – A one-stop shop for cheap, authentic local eats. Everything is served street cart-style, so walk up to the front to choose from a wide range of vegetable, meat, and seafood curries. Don’t be surprised by the feast that’s set before you, as the soups, salads, and desserts are all included and on-the-house.
Sharky’s – Craving a little taste of home? This farm-to-table restaurant not only serves high-quality Western cuisine, but also operates as a delicatessen with meats, cheeses, and breads to take-away. A true must-visit in Yangon.
So, is the Pickled Tea Hostel the right pick for you? If you’re into great food, local culture, and RAIN SHOWERS, then I would say a resounding HELL YES! And don’t forget the added bonus of knowing you’re traveling responsibly.
Will you book your next stay at the Pickled Tea?
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a booking through these links, you’ll give me a little extra dough to support endeavors like this at no extra cost to you. I wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t completely worth it! And thank you to the Pickled Tea Hostel for hosting my stay. I loved it so much that I paid for a night there on my way out of the country, so rest assured that my recommendation is 100% sound!