Money in Myanmar
Money in Myanmar information current as of April 2014
Myanmar (Burma) is a nation of myths. There is so much misinformation about this fascinating country that it can lead to people leaving it off their travel itineraries. This would be an absolute shame, and we are going to dispel one of the largest concerns for people. The issue of money in Myanmar.
- There ARE working ATM’s!In the major tourist destinations, such as Yangon, Mandalay, Inle Lake, Bagan, Hsipaw, Kalaw, Myawalmyne, Hpa-An, etc, as well as at the international airports, there are ATM’s that accept foreign debit and credit cards. We even found ATM’s at random bus stations on busy routes. Visa is the most readily accepted, however most machines will take Mastercard as well. Be sure to call your bank before you arrive to confirm that your card will work in Myanmar. To be safe, when you find a machine that works for you, use it to withdraw as much money as you think you will need.
- They accept US Dollars, and will offer a slightly better exchange rate for itFor ease of conversion, the Burmese people put the currency rate at 1000 kyat (pronounced “chat”) to 1 USD. However the actual rate is closer to 970 kyat. This isn’t a big difference, but still every little bit counts when you’re on a budget.
- Your USD have to be BRAND NEWCrisp, clean, no folds or marks. These notes need to be in mint condition. The slightest flaw will render the note useless.
- You can change your Thai Baht (and USD) at land bordersAt the border towns there are countless locals exchanging money. Pick one who looks honest and approach them. It helps if you have a good idea of how much money you will be expecting. Check the current exchange rate, use a calculator and then proceed with the transaction. Due to the competition on the black market, you should get a pretty good exchange rate anyway. Do not hand your money over first! Instead have them hand you their currency, count it (twice) and double check to make sure they have not done any dodgy play with the notes. If you are satisfied, then you can pass over your cash. Don’t worry, the Burmese people are so friendly and genuine that it would be a rare moment to find one who will try to rip you off. But caveat emptor.
- Cash is kingYou will be hard-pressed to find anywhere that takes credit card (outside of the major hotel chains and resorts). So ensure you have adequate cash on you for your day-to-day transactions. Unlike many other countries in the third world, Myanmar is extremely safe for tourists. You needn’t worry about carrying large quantities of cash on you, but still take the usual precautions. If you are concerned about having an entire month’s supply of kyat on you, then don’t forget that there are working ATM’s! Money in Myanmar is an ever-changing situation but follow these tips and you should have no problems.
7 thoughts on “Money In Myanmar (Burma)”
Reading all of your posts about Myanmar, in anticipation of my upcoming trip (less than 2 weeks!). Thanks so much for the useful information. Was wondering what to do about money! 🙂
Can’t wait to hear all about your adventures to Myanmar, Jennifer 😀
Useful article, but how do you get the crispy dollars? Is that something you can ask for at a bank in Thailand for example?
Hit up a big bank in Bangkok. Shouldn’t be a problem 🙂
Wow, things change soooooo quickly – there weren’t any ATMs when I was there just 6 months earlier!! The 21st century is arriving very fast into Myanmar.
One extra tip (for anyone reading the comments!!) – every guide book published before 2012 will tell you to change money on the black market, not the airport. That’s now completely wrong, and the airport is a safe, easy and good-value way to change money. The reason is that prior to 2012 the kyat hadn’t been floated on the international currency exchange and the Myanmar government continued to insist it was worth as much as it was many years ago. The official exchange rate was 6 kyat to the US dollar. Yup – 6. Whereas on the black market you’d get about 700. Crazy! But in mid 2012 they finally accepted that the value of the kyat is waaay lower than that and floated the currency, and now the official rate and the black market rate are very similar. I got something like 978 kyat to the dollar. I was offered up to 1050 on the black market, but that’s a difference of just $0.07, and the currency scam you mentioned is the only scam I’ve ever heard of in Myanmar, so it could end up costing you more than you realise. Moral of the story – the airport is fine for changing money these days. 🙂
Thanks for such a thorough post. It’s great to see some of these myths being dispelled!!
Myanmar is definitely changing rapidly. Thanks so much for the great tip about changing money. Worthwhile to know. Cheers for stopping by Martina 😀