Money in Myanmar

Money is an important factor that you have to know about before a trip to a new land.

The official currency of Burma – Myanmar is Kyat. As all countries, money has gone through a long history and witnessed many changing events of the country, Kyat had changed a lot from the shape, size to the color, unit and invisible meaning.

kyat is the official currency of Myanmar

Kyat is the official currency of Myanmar

In the 19th century, before 1889, the first Kyat was released as both gold and silver coins. At that time, 16 silver Kyats is equal 1 gold Kyat. When Burma loosed sovereignty and became a colony of Britain, the British used Indian Rupee to replace the Kyats and value of silver Kyats was corresponding to the Indian Rupee’s.

In 1942, when the Japanese occupied Burma, they issued another money unit to replace the Rupees. In next year they decided to use the Kyats again. But in 1945, when The World War II ended and the Japanese fascists were defeated, the Kyat was debased and the Rupee was one more time used.

The current Kyats were started using from Jul of 1952. They replaced the old Rupees at par.

The code for Kyat is MMK with the current symbol is K. The latest updated paper notes have 10 face values: K5, K10, K20, K50, K100, K200, K1000, K5000, and K10.000. And each of them has its own color, famous symbol and image containing the Myanmar’s tradition and spirit value.  You can see the 10 Kyats - K10 – it has the main color is purple with the image of Chinthe (a legendary creature like lion) which is often seen at the 2 sides of entrance into temples, pagodas and Karaweik – the Royal Regalia Boat of Myanmar.

Coin is the first form of Kyat currency used in Myanmar. Nowadays it has 7 face values: K1, K5, K10, K50, K100 and 10 pyas, 50 pyas. In compare with currency value of almost other countries, the coins are too small. Because of that fact, they are used as souvenirs only but not in the circulation.

When travelling in this Pagoda Land, you can easily use both US dollars and Kyats. To pay for tickets, entrance fees, hotels… you can pay by US dollars while the essential goods such as food, souvenirs, tuk tuk… will need your paying by Kyats.

Many locals are willing to accept US dollars while trading or exchanging but you may need to pay little more. They will round your dollars up but not exact in the bank. With small amount, this way is fine and brings you convenience.

Besides US dollars, other currencies such as Euros, Pounds, Singaporean dollars, Vietnam Dong… are can be easily exchanged to Kyats at airports, banks in big cities and main destinations like Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan…

ATMs: Until 2019, there are more than 1000 ATM machines in Myanmar. All famous tourist destinations in the cities will have them. Some hotels are also equipped. You may find ATM’s in some small towns/remote areas but please be aware they may run out of cash or stop working. In general, the density of supplying ATM’s is a sporadic scattering, please do not see it the single money resource but keep it as the back-up plan only when come here. You can withdraw 300,000 kyats (about USD215) maximum only per transaction. And the withdrawal fee will be applied (about USD5) per time. 

For your overview about the value of Kyats, here are some exchange rates between Kyats and some currencies (updated Jun 2020).
1 USD = K 1,395
1 EUR = K 1,553
1 GBP = K 1,728

We have some advices for you with money spending in Myanmar:

- When travelling here, bring all the money that you plan to spend in cash and back up with your Visa or Master cards.

- Some tourist points in Myanmar accepted credit cards. In case you are run low on cash, you are able to use credit card there with the fee (about 2.5% on top). You‘d better inform your bank in advance to avoid your card being blocked.

- Banks are the best place to exchange the money because of the legal brings safety with best rates you can get. Exchange counters in airports are good too. Exchanging in hotels is fine with small amount but the rate is not as good as at banks of course. The black market or money exchangers in streets are not recommended due to its risk. They will try to lure you and also try to cheat you some.

- When exchanging in hard cash, there is a small fee for every USD10, but this still works out cheaper than the ATM’s fee or credit card’s fee.

- Because many tourists come into Myanmar from Bangkok – Thailand, almost US dollar bills are taken from here. In that case, you can change the money at Currency Exchanger call SuperRick in Silom street (Bangkok), it take you in about an hour for the whole process.

- You can also withdraw all your money with some ATM withdrawal fee, as using your card to get dollars will take you 2.5% fee on top.

- You are advised to use the brand new Dollar bills here. The bills need to be crisp, un-marked and un-creased, no stains, no rips.


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