The official currency in Myanmar is the Kyat (pronounced «chat») and is divided into 100 pyas although there are only billets. The other currency you can pay is the U.S. dollar, and we can change at any local hotel or qualified to do so. Usually the hotels, trains and taxis in urban areas give their dollar prices. The remaining purchases can be paid with the official currency.
The current approximate rates are as follows $ 1250 kyat, € 1400 kyat, SGD 880 and updated rates can be found through websites such as KBZ Bank.
Other currencies may possibly be exchanged (£, AUS$, THB) but the number of Banks that will exchange them is very limited and the rate therefore could be quite poor unless you are willing to spend time shopping around. Branches of Farmers Bank change AUS$. Recently only one of the 9 Banks at Yangon arrivals would change THB-at a very poor rate.
Still the currency of choice for Airlines, Travel Agents, Guides, top hotels and restaurants and for some entrance fees.
It is essential that bills are in first class, pristine condition, with no folds, rips or writing. New is best and keep them flat, maybe between two pieces of card. 100’s and 50’s will get the best exchange rate so use lower denominations for paying hotels and restaurants- again condition is important.
All $ bills must not be older than the 2006 issue but any later than that, in perfect condition, will be fine as well as the latest issue from August 2013. The $ is still king and taxis, guides and restaurants will still accept them if you are short of kyat.
There are now over 2000 ATM’s in Myanmar with a choice at major airports and widespread availability at downtown Banks. They only dispense kyat. Do note that there is a fixed charge of 5000kyat,plus your own Bank’s charge and a maximum withdrawal of 300,000kyat,up to three times daily.
Many smaller villages and towns have yet to get an ATM but those that have a Bank branch in town will either have one or get one soon. For example Sittwe has only one ATM and until recently there were none at Ngapali Beach but there is now an ATM (KBZ Bank) outside Amata Hotel.
There have been reports that Banks in some counties still follow the outdated USA embargo so do check with your Bank that your card will be accepted.
Are accepted by airlines, four of which are bookable on-line with immediate e-ticket issue.
Many quality hotels, especially used by business and group tours, will accept Credit Cards, although some may charge a merchant fee. Conversely many tourist hotels and Guest houses will not take credit cards. Many Irrawaddy cruise boats state that Credit Cards are not accepted but there are reports that when passengers say that is all they have got, having spent all their kyat and $, a card machine miraculously appears.
Paying Agents from abroad
Because of high Credit Card merchant fees (up to 5%) many Agents prefer payment of deposits by Bank payment with the balance in $ on arrival in Myanmar. THIS IS PERFECTLY NORMAL.
Because of USA Restrictions the Myanmar Banks are not yet on the International Bank transfer system so many Myanmar companies have accounts in Singapore or Bangkok to where Bank transfers can be made. It is the same with the International Irrawaddy Cruise companies.
Things are changing fast, money can already be transferred by Western Union, and the Myanmar Banking system will eventually be connected Internationally and KBZ Bank and CB Bank are currently trailing to get it working.
NEVER CHANGE MONEY IN THE STREET-ALWAYS USE A BANK OR OFFICIAL MONEY CHANGER