Myanmar has only been open to tourists since 2012 but in that time the ease at which tourists and their money have been able to move around the country has increased rapidly. There are ATMs all over the place, bigger hotels now take credit cards and an ever-evolving Wi-Fi network means you can transfer money online more places than ever.
However, like any developing nation, there are still hiccups here and there, so we’ve written this blog to avoid those hiccups. Consider it holding your breath (or your chosen method of hiccup removal) in blog form.
|Currency in Myanmar||Kyat (MMK)|
|Budget Accommodation||£7 per night for hostel/guesthouse|
|Bottle of Water||£0.25|
* Prices based on Yangon
Kyat Banknote Denominations: K5, K10, K20, K50, K100, K200, K500, K1000, K5000, K10,000.
Coins: K5, K10, K50, K100.
Since 2012, ATMs have begun rapidly popping up all over Myanmar. They tend to charge around 5,000K with withdrawal limits of about 300,000K. The main banks with international ATMs are the KBZ Bank, AGD Bank and the CB Bank. These banks also generally offer exchange services; just make sure you’ve got your passport with you.
Try and make sure you have a backup supply of kyat cash though of, you guessed it, crisp, un-sullied dollar bills as the further you get from the towns and cities the ATMS tend to get less, how can we put this kindly, reliable.
Also, keep a note of any transactions you make in case those less-than-reliable ATMs suddenly stop being reliable and you need to try and contact the ATMs owner, your bank or your travel insurance provider.
- Despite a government campaign to push the public into accepting crumpled US dollars (or, oddly, dollars printed before 2006), it can still be a struggle to have them accepted in shops or to get the full exchange rate for them. So avoid shoving them into your pocket when receiving them as change. Instead carefully take them off the shopkeeper, iron them immediately and then vacuum pack them into an airtight plastic wallet. Alternatively, just place them carefully into your purse. Your call.
- Sadly, bribes remain part of everyday life in Myanmar and although as a tourist you should avoid paying out anything extortionate, it’s best to have a little something-something on you to grease palms if they need greasing.
- There are a lot of unofficial money exchangers on the streets of Myanmar and these should be avoided at all costs. Use official vendors and banks and never hand over your cash until you’ve received and counted the kyat.