There’s a few things to be aware of when it comes to money in Myanmar, so we thought we’d lay them out nice and clearly for you.
First things first, the currency in Myanmar is called the Kyat, and it’s impossible to buy any before you arrive in the country.
If you’re going to use dollars, make sure they’re pristine.
The most important thing here is to make sure your notes are unfolded, uncreased, with no markings at all on them, and newer then 2006. Quite the list we know, but it’s important. Money exchangers could well either reject your money, or give you a worse rate because of the imperfection.
We’d also recommend using $100 bills as much as possible, because lesser notes will again receive a worse exchange rate. It’s frustrating, but as long as you’re prepared for it enough in advance, then it shouldn’t affect you too much.
There are ATMs
Compared to a few years ago, there are now ATM machines across the country that work. That being said, if you’re going to some of the more remote destinations in Myanmar, or perhaps the beach, then it’s worth having some money on you just in case.
In general these ATMs cost about $4 for a withdrawal, which is in addition to any fees your bank might charge. All banks and ATMs will charge this, so don’t bother hunting around for a better deal.
The maximum you will be able to withdraw from the ATM will be around $150, and this will be given to you in Myanmar Kyat.
USD or Kyat?
We’d encourage you to use Kyat as much as possible throughout your time in Myanmar and at the time of writing the exchange rate was around 1,300 Kyat to 1 USD.
We’d definitely not recommend dealing with anyone who offers to exchange your money into dollars or kyat outside of an official bank or money exchanger. These individuals can be known to scam tourists.
Cost of Travelling in Myanmar
Unfortunately Myanmar is quite a bit more expensive then other nearby Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam. The infrastructure is still being built, and so there is little competition yet which can drive down the price
For accommodation, we’ll lay out the rough costings below:
Hostel – Around $20 a night,
Budget Hotel - Around $30-50 a night.
3* Hotel – Between $50 and $100 a night
4* Hotel – Between $100 and $200 a night
5* Hotel – Usually above $200
Food and drink obviously depend completely on where you eat and what you eat. If you decide to go local, then you’ll unlikely be spending more then $10 for a meal and most probably a lot less then this. The same goes for drinks. If you choose to eat other things, then the price can vary a fair amount.
Tipping is not all that common in Myanmar, but it is beginning to creep into the culture. It’s really up to you. If you feel that your guide, driver, or host has gone above and beyond, then we’d never say tipping is a bad thing. That being said, don’t go overboard.