There were a few tips we read about visiting Myanmar that I didn’t take quite as seriously as I should have. I will reiterate them for others considering visiting. Most of these about about money, as this was the most frustrating part of being in Myanmar.
- Myanmar uses the Kyat (pronounced chet) as their currency. US dollars can be exchanged with money changers at the market, or at a bank for a slightly higher rate.
- There are no ATMs in Myanmar, you need to take all your money with you.
- I am not aware of anywhere that takes credit or debit card. Maybe some of the bigger hotels, although I expect they would charge a lot.
- Take only pristine $100USD notes. I mean pristine. They must have no creases, smudges, or marks of any kind. Anything less than perfect may be accepted if you are lucky, but at a lower value. Why? I have no idea. Everyone tells you that the government will not accept anything less than perfect. Soiled notes have to be taken out of the country, hence the lower value. What is/are the government/banks (same thing in Myanmar I presume) doing with all these pretty $100USD notes? They don’t go back into circulation.
- Take $100USD rather than smaller denominations. Smaller denominations are exchanged at a lower rate. Again, who knows why. Seems the government particularly likes $100USD notes.
- The exchange rate changes every day, and sometimes several times per day. On the day we arrived $1USD was worth 775 Kyat in the market and 780 Kyat at the bank. About five days later it was worth 760 in the market. However, due to a slight smudge on our note, it was valued at 750.
- Shop around if exchanging at the market. Try to find the going rate rather than accepting the first offer.
- It’s cold in the north. I haven’t been cold for over a year, so I forgot what it feels like.
- The buses are freezing. Freezing! Wear socks, shoes, long trousers, long sleeves, a scarf (to wrap around your head and face), and wrap yourself in a blanket. That may make you warm enough.