Friday, September 30, 2022

Money & Shopping in Myanmar

AsiaMyanmarMoney & Shopping in Myanmar

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Myanmar’s currency is the kyat, which is pronounced “chat.” Prices may be shown locally by using the abbreviation K (singular or plural) or Ks (plural) before or after the amount, depending on who is writing the sign. MMK is the ISO abbreviation. Pya are coins that are seldom seen since their value has declined to the point that the biggest coin of 50 Pya is worth less than six US cents. UU In February 2014, it was the euro.

Hotels, tourist attractions, train and airline tickets, ferry rides, and bus tickets are no longer needed to be paid in US dollars by foreigners. As of September 2015, due to the volatility of foreign currency and the depreciation of the kyat, many establishments would announce pricing in US dollars, despite the fact that it is presently unlawful to list goods in USD. Despite recent Central Bank efforts prohibiting excessive usage of the currency, expatriate eateries are typically priced in US dollars. It is unlawful for a Myanmar citizen to take (or keep) US dollars without a license, although this rule is frequently disregarded, and US dollars are widely accepted. However, never demand, since this may be harmful to the receiver. FECs are still legal currency, although they are uncommon and worth very little.

Kyat cannot be legally exchanged overseas, although money changers in locations with significant Burmese communities, like as Singapore, will frequently do so regardless. Keep US dollars clean and unfolded (otherwise they will not be accepted by hotels, restaurants, or money changers) and throw away any leftover kyat before leaving.

When exchanging dollars for kyat, bear in aware that even minor flaws may lead a note to be rejected. Maintain perfect condition for all US dollars and do not double them.

Foreign currencies

Visitors do not need to carry a significant quantity of cash while arriving in Yangon since the airport now has numerous ATMs that take MasterCard and Visa cards . If you need money quickly at the airport, Yangon has a plethora of ATMs. Look for properties near retail malls, big hotels, and banks. The Shwe Dagon Pagoda has around ten ATMs. You will still need to carry cash to cover day-to-day costs. US dollar banknotes must be brand new, unmarked, and in excellent condition. Credit cards are becoming more often accepted at high-end hotels and restaurants.

ATMs are now available in some of the smaller tourist sites (Bagu, Hpa-An, and so on), but not in large numbers. Take a break from Bagan, Yangon, Mandalay, and Inle Lake.

Furthermore, certain hotels in Yangon may offer a credit card cash advance via Singapore. People have claimed that hotels charge a fee ranging from 7% to 30%, and that they may need their passport to complete the transaction. It is also feasible for citizens of the United States of America to receive money from friends or family in an emergency via the US Embassy. UU

Because the city’s banks are closed on holidays and Sundays, all required money must be exchanged at the airport. Money changers provide considerably cheaper rates (between 5 and 10% lower) when exchanging US dollars. The simplest alternative is to convert all of your money at the airport, where you may also exchange it for a little charge. Look around at several banks to get the best exchange rate.

The US dollar is the preferred international currency in Myanmar, but Euros and Singapore dollars may be readily exchanged in Yangon and Mandalay, but possibly not farther afield. Other currencies to consider include the Chinese yuan and the Thai baht. The best prices may be found in Yangon and Mandalay.

When visiting Myanmar, carry a variety of USD denominations since money changers will not provide change and the USD20, 10, 5, and 1 dollar notes are necessary for certain entrance and transit costs.

Official and black market rates

Monetary restrictions have loosened in recent years, and banks no longer convert foreign currencies at the exorbitant rates they formerly did. The majority of banks accept US dollars, euros, and Chinese yuan as payment. Some of the bigger banks offer convert Singapore dollars and Thai baht.

Ensure that foreign currency is:

  • Unmarked: there are no stamps, anti-counterfeit pen, ink, or other marks on them. Pencil can be erased with a decent eraser, but any permanent markings will significantly reduce the value and ability to trade a note.
  • Fresh, crisp, and as near to new as you can get. Moneychangers have been known to reject notes just because they are wrinkled and/or mildly worn.
  • Undamaged. There are no rips, missing pieces, holes, repairs, or anything of the like.
  • Preferably with the new design’s bigger headshot and multi-color printing. However, old-style USD1 coins are still widely traded.
  • There should be no serial numbers beginning with “CB” on USD100 banknotes. This is due to their association with a forgery of a “superbill” that circulated some time ago.

Banks provide the best exchange rate for USD100 notes. Changing USD50 or USD20 notes results in a slightly lower rate of MYK10-20 per dollar.

Banknotes in Kyat MYK50, MYK100, MYK200, and MYK500 notes are often in poor shape, although they are widely accepted when making modest transactions. The MYK1,000 notes are somewhat better, and when exchanging dollars for kyat, be sure the banknotes you get are in excellent shape overall. If the exchange hands you kyat notes in poor shape, you may request that they be exchanged for notes in better condition.

Exchanging money

In Myanmar, there are a variety of gimmicks and frauds that prey on visitors carrying US cash. In exchange, guest rooms or merchants may attempt to hand you defective or non-exchangeable banknotes. When making a transaction, always examine all of the notes and ask the vendor to return any notes that you believe you may have difficulty utilizing in the future (this is perfectly acceptable behavior for both sellers and customers, so do not be shy).

Some moneychangers may also use deception to swap excellent banknotes for damaged or lower denominations. Other stories claim that kyat can be counted and that some of them vanish from the table during the transaction. Some money changers, for example, will create some notes after going through a laborious counting procedure for stacks of ten 1000 kyat banknotes.

When changing money, be certain that no one touches the money after it has been tallied until the transaction is completed. Also, do not allow your dollars to be removed from sight until everything has been agreed upon; in fact, it is not even required to withdraw your dollars until you have paid the kyats that you got. It may seem excessive, but finding yourself in a nation where you can’t access your funds and where a large part of your budget is rendered worthless (until you locate more flexible changers in Bangkok) may seriously jeopardize your goals.

Kyat is virtually useless outside of Myanmar, although it makes for excellent keepsakes. Before leaving the country, be sure you exchange your kyat.

Foreign Exchange Certificates (FECs)

Previously, visitors to Myanmar were obliged to exchange USD200 into FECs upon arrival, however this requirement was removed in August 2003. FECs remain legal tender, however they should be avoided at all costs since they are no longer worth their face value (although a one FEC note has good souvenir potential).

Credit cards and ATMs

Throughout the country, there are many ATMs that take international Visa and MasterCard. The more ATMs there are, the larger and more touristic the area. Luxury tourist destinations (hotels, travel agencies, and restaurants) already accept credit cards (and surcharges accordingly). Then, for items worth more than USD100, you may pay with MasterCard at a shop in the center of Inle Lake. Nonetheless, in most locations, paper money is the sole method to pay. If an ATM does not function properly, just go to the next one. If you are going to a distant location, depart in a city first. The typical withdrawal limit is MYK300,000, plus a MYK5,000 processing charge. There are locations where you can obtain cash with a credit card in addition to ATMs, however the prices are very uncompetitive (with premiums certainly not less than around 7 percent , and with quotes of 30 percent and more frequent). If you run out of money, request that your taxi driver take you to the CB Bank ATM.

Travellers cheques

Myanmar does not take traveler’s checks. The only exception might be a very unscrupulous money changer, but be prepared to pay an exorbitant fee (30 percent is not uncommon).


Tipping is not commonly done by the Burmese. However, considering the country’s pervasive poverty, gratuities are definitely welcomed if you have gotten exceptional service. Credit card tips are virtually never given to service workers. If you want to tip, make sure you offer it to the person who served you in cash.


It is impossible to live comfortable on less than $25 USD each day (May 2013). Foreigners will almost certainly be charged, which may include camera, video, entrance, parking, and area costs. In the area, most regulated tourist attractions demand a fee for carrying cameras of any sort. Double rooms with private bathrooms nearly usually cost more than USD20, whereas a double room without a bathroom costs USD20 in Yangon. Dorm beds cost about $ 10 (or $ 8 if you’re willing to give up a lot of value) (September 2015). While you cannot save money on lodging, you can save money on meals. Street food may be as cheap as USD0.30 for two tiny curries with two Indian naan, or $1 for a standard (vegetarian) meal. Even in tourist areas like Bagan, meals cost less than 1 USD (vegetarian) and 2 USD (non-vegetarian) (meat). A bottle of Burmese beer (650 ml) costs about 1,700 kyat, whereas a bottle of Mandalay beer (6.5 percent, 650 ml) costs approximately 1,200 kyat.

What to buy

  • Antiques. Buying antiques and antiques in Myanmar is at best a legal murky area, following the passage of the new antiquities legislation in 2015, and is often prohibited for any item older than 100 years. Prison time and fines are among the punishments. It is best to avoid purchasing antiques as a tourist unless you are prepared to acquire a Ministry of Culture export permission before you depart and are knowledgeable enough to prevent counterfeiting. It is also worth noting that copies and counterfeits are prevalent at the Bogyoke market and other tourist-friendly antique shops. It is against the law to export religious antiquities (manuscripts, Buddhas, etc.)
  • Art. Myanmar’s art industry has expanded in recent years, with indigenous artists’ works selling well in Yangon and Mandalay. Visit one of Yangon’s many galleries to get a sense of the available works. Buddhism and the tough sociopolitical circumstances are often referenced in art, as are more typical Victorian elements like as marketplaces, elderly ladies smoking cigarettes, tribal members, and monks. Bogyoke Market is home to a plethora of low-cost , mass-produced and derivative works.
  • Gemstones. Myanmar is a significant source of jade, rubies, and sapphires (the awarding of a license to the French on the ruby mines at Mogok was one of the reasons of the Third Burmese War), and they may be acquired for a fraction of the cost in the West. However, keep in mind that there are numerous forgeries on sale among real items, and unless you know their jewels, buy from an official government outlet to avoid getting scammed. In Yangon, the Bogoyoke Aung San Market and the Myanmar Gems Museum feature numerous approved shops and are usually a safe location to buy these stones.
  • Lacquerware is a kind of lacquerware. A popular buy that can be converted into bowls, cups, vases, tables, and other things and is widely accessible. Bagan, in central Myanmar, is the traditional lacquer manufacturing hub. However, be wary of counterfeit lacquerware, which is cheaply manufactured yet seems to be genuine. As a rule of thumb, the more stiff the lacquer, the lower the quality; the more easily it can be bent and twisted, the higher the grade.
  • Tapestries. Kalaga is also known as shwe chi doe. Burma has a long history of making tapestries. These are embellished with gold and silver threads and sequins and usually depict stories from Buddhist scriptures (jatakas) or other non-secular Burmese Buddhist items (mythical animals, hintha and kalong are also popular themes). The tapestry tradition is fading, although many are being created for tourists and can be seen in Mandalay and Yangon. Burmese tapestries do not survive long, so be cautious if you are offered an ancient shwe chi doe.
  • Textiles. Myanmar’s textiles are remarkable. Each area and ethnic group has its own distinct style. The textiles on the chin are very stunning. They are handwoven in complex geometric designs in rich reds, mossy green, and white. They may be very pricey, about USD20 for the cloth to create a longyi (sarong).

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