Burmese kyat (K)
Budget: Less than US$50
- Hostel or guesthouse: US$10–40
- Local restaurant or street-stall meal: US$2–6
- One day's bicycle hire: US$1–2
- Double room in midrange hotel: US$40–150
- Two-course meal in midrange restaurant: US$5–15
- Trekking Kalaw to Inle Lake: US$20–35 per person per day
- Boat to Bagan: US$42
Top end: More than US$200
- Double room in top-end hotel: US$150–500
- Meal in top-end restaurant: US$25–45
- Driver and guide: US$80–100 per day
- Fine lacquerware bowl: US$200
Haggling is accepted in markets, antique and curio shops, and in taxis. Don't push it, and remember that the extra K1000 will be worth more to the vendor than you. The exceptions to this are the most popular tourist markets in Yangon, where traders may offer a starting price much higher than the item's value. At specialist markets traders will start with a price around 10 times the item's value.
Cash mainly. ATMs accepting international cards are now widely available in cities, towns and tourist areas. Bring pristine US bills for exchange.
There are hundreds of ATMs across the country. There is a withdrawal fee of K6500 and a withdrawal limit of K300,000 per transaction.
Don't rely solely on ATMs, especially in more off-the-beaten-track towns: the machines don't always work. Also make sure you keep records of ATM transactions in case of any problems.
The most useful of the local banks (open 9.30am to 3pm Monday to Friday) are CB and KBZ, both of which issue and accept MasterCard and Visa cards and have ATMs in which you can use overseas-issued cards for a K6500 charge per transaction.
Do not change money with people on the street.
Bring New Bills
Although banks, money changers, hotels and shops are more relaxed about accepting crumpled US dollar bills than they once were, it is still recommended to bring pristine 'new' bills – bills issued in 2006 or later that have colour and are in perfect condition: no folds, stamps, stains, writing marks or tears.
Bills damaged in any way will attract lower rates of exchange or may be rejected. You will get the best exchange rates from US$100 bills, but it's also a good idea to bring some small dollar bills – ones, fives and 10s.
In Yangon and other major tourist spots you'll increasingly find credit cards accepted by top-end hotels and restaurants and some shops.
Myanmar remains a predominantly cash economy. The national currency, the kyat (pronounced 'chat'), is divided into the following banknotes: K50, K100, K200, K500, K1000, K5000 and K10,000.
The US dollar is less of an alternative currency than it once was, but many guesthouses and hotels still quote prices and accept payment in the greenback. Prices in reviews alternate between kyat (K) and US dollars (US$), depending on the currency in which prices are quoted at the place itself.
Most everyday items, such as meals, bus tickets, trishaw or taxi rides, or bottles of water or beer, need to be paid for with kyat.
When paying in US dollars, check the exchange rate being used and your change carefully. Locals tend to unload slightly torn bills that work fine in New York but are likely to be worthless for the rest of your trip in Myanmar.
Donations & Bribes
Have some small notes (K50, K100, K200) ready when visiting a religious temple or monastery, as a donation may be requested and you may wish to leave one even if it's not.
The government has vowed to fight corruption, but it's a fact that bribes remain an ingrained feature of large sections of Myanmar's economy. A small amount of 'tea money' can expedite certain services – use sense and discretion if you find yourself in such a situation.
The US dollar is the only foreign currency that’s readily exchanged and/or accepted as payment for goods and services.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
You'll find official bank and private licensed exchange booths at places such as Yangon and Mandalay international airports, Bogyoke Aung San Market and Shwedagon Paya in Yangon.
Never hand over your money until you've received the kyat and counted them. Honest money changers will expect you to do this. Considering that K10,000 is the highest denomination, you'll get a lot of notes. Money changers give ready-made, rubber-banded stacks of a hundred K1000 bills. It's a good idea to check each note individually. Often you'll find one or two (or more) with a cut corner or taped tears, neither of which anyone will accept.
Some travellers do the bulk of their exchanging in Yangon, then carry the stacks of kyat around the country. Considering the relative safety from theft, it's not a bad idea, but you can exchange money elsewhere and with so many ATMs around now, it's not necessary.
Tipping is not customary in Myanmar, though little extra 'presents' are sometimes expected (even if they're not asked for) in exchange for a service.
- Airport If someone helps you with your bags, a small tip is welcomed.
- Restaurants As wages are low, it's a good idea to leave change for waiters.
- Temples A small donation is appreciated if a caretaker is required to unlock a temple.