Photo: Temple outside Monywa.

Burma forum

American money and internet

Posted by mattocmd on 28/4/2013 at 11:01

Two small details that I want to clarify:

For those of you who've been to Myanmar recently, how restricted is the internet? Were you able to access Gmail and Facebook? I'd like to be able to keep in contact with my family while I'm gone if possible. So just double checking that these two websites aren't currently blocked.

I keep reading how US dollars must be in perfect condition...Are we talking mint condition? Or just in overall good shape with no tears, writing or major creases? I'm trying to figure out the best way to store such a large amount of US dollars and keep them in perfect condition. The money belt I just bought is too small for US dollars unless I fold them.

#1 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 365

Posted by Geer1 on 28/4/2013 at 11:23

Never been to Myanmar but I would think a neat fold would be ok. I just wouldn't be taking something with any rips, looks like it has been carried in your pocket etc. Just a hunch on my part but taking 20's instead of 50's or 100's might make it easier as well.

#2 Geer1 has been a member since 14/9/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by mattocmd on 28/4/2013 at 18:21

Yea. In Cambodia I always just exchanged 20s whenever I needed local cash. Those little money booths are always easy to find. I wonder if it's the same way in Myanmar. In Cambodia they'd often slip me damaged bills that were hard to get rid of.

#3 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 365

Posted by Geer1 on 28/4/2013 at 22:08

In Cambodia use the Canadia Bank atms. They give good bills and charge no withdrawal fee.

#4 Geer1 has been a member since 14/9/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by TheLeapingLemur on 28/4/2013 at 22:11

They need to be perfect - no creases or folds. That said, I've watched a hotelier take a $50 from me and fold it! But, if you have them folded, then they may reject them. Not worth the risk.

We use a tin-pencil case and it's worked a treat. Took a money belt on my first trip there and it didn't keep the money perfect.

Bigger bills get a better rate with banks in land. I'd work out your budget and change what you need into Kyats - these can be folded etc making it easier to carry. US$ need for trains/ hotels etc. Don't even consider black-market. Not worth it.
Internet no issue. If you're taking your own laptop, then it may be worth downloading something like Spotflux to use as a proxy server. Works great and really reliable.
Elli xx

#5 TheLeapingLemur has been a member since 20/11/2012. Posts: 13

Posted by MinMin2013 on 28/4/2013 at 22:51

The bills (when I was there until the end of Jan. 2013) needed to be unfolded in perfect condition. I've read that things are loosening up. We saw ATMs being installed, but that rate was like a credit card cash advance. Changing at the airport is good. We changed in our Yangon hotel (same place where I stayed in Dec. 2011) and this time they literally ran the $100 bills twice thru their machine for counting, held each bill up to the light and then (I am not kidding) sniffed each one. I'm so wishing I'd taken out my phone camera. I asked why, but got no answer. We carried our fresh crispy bills in a small children-sized colored pencil box (pencils left home of course) which was a perfect size and then tucked that in an envelope secured by a rubber band. The 100s get you the best rate. If you exchange a $100 plus a smaller bill, say a $10 or $20. You get the better rate for the $100 and less for the $10 even though it's a single transaction. Our biggest worry on trip #1 was the money. It all was fine and worked out. We got a good exchange rate, but eventually started thinking/spending/using the 1000 kyat as equal to a dollar. It spends quickly. I love Myanmar/Burma so much.
The Internet was nearly hopeless Dec. 2011 except in Yangon. By 13 months later it had improved significantly. Often it was available only in the hotel lobby or later in the evening in one's room or for a 5000 kayat/24 hr charge or else you might have to ask someone at the desk the best place to sit to get on. It wasn't speedy, but it worked. Posting pictures was tedious on fb. Sending photos home worked well in the night quite a few times. Some newer coffee shops had great wifi. Some just had the sign. I'm guessing that every week it's better and better. Gmail worked. My local Comcast seemed not to at least on the first trip. I took my iPad Mini and it was superb. Downloaded my photos each evening as a backup. You will probably take hundreds each day.
If you see anyone sniff your money please post a photo. That's the one I missed.

#6 MinMin2013 has been a member since 28/4/2013. Posts: 1

Posted by mattocmd on 29/4/2013 at 08:11

The tin pencil case sounds like an excellent idea but do you actually carry that around with you all the time? Or leave it in your luggage?

I'd feel uncomfortable leaving that much money behind in my room (in any country).

#7 mattocmd has been a member since 13/6/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 365

Posted by TheLeapingLemur on 29/4/2013 at 09:01

We carry the tin. Last year there were not ATM's so tourists were always carrying around $1000 and nobody was mugged that we've ever heard off. The reason we like the tin is that the money is locked away as such and whatever happens in the bag it's safe. Also shoved it into the pillow case a few times when we stayed places a little more open.

If you know where you are planning to go, I may be able to give you an idea of US$ that you need to keep. And then change the rest to Kyats. The difference in the buy/ sell rate is about 10 Kyats so even when you change your left-over currency back at the end, you don't really lose much.

If you need an ATM then the charge is about $6 (£4). Sounds expensive, but unless you use AEON in Thailand, you get charged something close to that anyway!

PM me and I can direct you to a useful site or two.

#8 TheLeapingLemur has been a member since 20/11/2012. Posts: 13


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