Photo: Temple outside Monywa.

Burma forum

money in burma

Posted by fredooo on 16/7/2009 at 05:24

Hi all,
im counting away the days, its final now i'll in myanmar on the 7th of august for two weeks , ill just go for the clasic tour. I was just wondering about one more thing, what about the currency of the kyatt? how much do i get for 10 dollar? it gives me an idea of what everything will cost... does anybody have an idea? There are no atm's so i think i should get the dollars before , how many do i need for two weeks? Is is better to use euro's instead of dollars? because in the first place i already need to change my euro's into dollars... anyway i hope someone can help me
take care

#1 fredooo has been a member since 18/6/2009. Posts: 3

Posted by SBE on 16/7/2009 at 06:44

It's hard to know the exact exchange rate as it fluctuates a lot. I haven't been there for about three years but I'll try and help.

According to the Irrawaddy magazine it was 1000 kyat to the US $ back in January of this year... it's usually a bit more but at least 1000 is a easy conversion rate.

Whatever you do, DO NOT change money at the airport or in any banks, only on the black market. One good reason is that the "official" rate is probably only around 6-8 kyat to the dollar. (Yes, you read that right!)The other is that you'd be financing the junta with this incredibly lousy exchange rate. You can change money in Yangon at Bogyoke Aung San Market but it's probably easier to do it at your GH at first, even if you get a slightly lower rate, because you get great piles of tattered money in exchange for $100 and it's not easy to count it in a busy market!

You can use US $ to pay your taxi into town if you haven't got transport arranged. (Motherland 2 provides a free airport pickup service, there might be other GHs who do too) GHs usually want to be paid in dollars ... $8-10/night should be get you something basic but OK. A friend was there earlier this year and prices didn't seem to have increased much from when I was there.

Euros were accepted in Yangon and Mandalay when I was there but US dollars are still the most widely used currency. Entrance fees to the main sites have to be paid for in dollars ..$5-$10 depending on what it is... so will will need some.

Although the money you get will often be dirty and old, you will need to have PRISTINE euro or dollar notes. No tears or marks whatsoever. No CB serial number $100 notes either....they won't be accepted anywhere, not even in foreign consulates. I saw a French couple in the Thai consulate trying to get a visa to Thailand with one because they'd run out of money and needed to break the $100 deal.

Although the exchange rate on big notes is better, I'd advise you to have lots of smaller $ notes... ones, fives and tens. Those are the ones you'll need most and people may not have change for big denomination notes.

There was a minor "money laundering" scam going on at Inle BTW... the motor boat tours on the lake have to stop and pay an entrance fee at the entrance ($5 I think)and the crew collect money from the passengers. They sometimes try and make out you gave them a torn/dirty note and ask you to exchange it for another one. (A torn $ note in Burma is worthless though you can of course use it elsewhere).

You're going to be there in the middle of the rainy season BTW...good luck... the roads are bad enough in the dry season!

#2 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,053
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Posted by fredooo on 16/7/2009 at 06:51

thanks for the useful information, and the rainy season and the ways too and from are just a part of my experience! ;) take care

#3 fredooo has been a member since 18/6/2009. Posts: 3

Posted by BruceMoon on 17/7/2009 at 19:05


The mid-market rate today is:

100.00 MMK = 15.3610 USD
100.00 MMK = 11.0599 EUR

MMK = Myanmar Kyat

To determine the exchange rate for any two currencies, go look here.

I find it helps to keep a check on the exchange rate while I travel.


#4 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by SBE on 17/7/2009 at 20:18

Bruce, that site shows the OFFICIAL rate, not the black market rate!

In the link you provided: 1.00 USD=6.53125 MMK.

Black market rate will be approx: 1.00 USD= 1,000 MMK

And as I said before, unless you are very fond of the junta you MUST use the black market to change money. Everyone does, except clueless package tourists who haven't done any homework and Burma is one country where you REALLY need to do some homework before going.

Fredooo, I don't think you quite realize just how uncomfortable it can be to travel in Burma compared to other countries in the region. The buses and taxis are really clapped out compared to those in Thailand. Everyone chews betel nut so there's red spit everywhere and there's a lot of coughing on the overcrowded buses too (endemic TB). Don't expect it to be like travelling in Thailand! Your passport will be examined at army checkpoints at regular intervals, particularly on the overnight bus trips.

Here's a picture showing what the roads can be like...this is a traffic jam on account of a mudslide between Kalaw and Mandalay. The road was totally blocked for 3 days.

I've got some more pictures of Burma on Flickr if you're interested. :-)

#5 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,053
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Posted by SBE on 18/7/2009 at 04:49

Sorry, I just noticed that current exchange rates are on the front page of The Irrawaddy (under the cartoon).

Today's rate is:

1USD=1,100 kyat.

#6 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,053
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Posted by BruceMoon on 19/7/2009 at 06:53


As I haven't been to Myanmar, I was submitting advice based on the 'reason' used elsewhere in SE Asia.

Thanks for being so alert, you (again) educated me.

May I suggest the topic of 'exchange rates' in relation to Myanmar also be placed on the Money 'forum' (possibly cutting'n'pasting parts) and linked as an idea to buying cash off (official) market.

I suspect we may get a few ideas from others about where/how to get better 'deals' than from (say) banks. You may even have a few stories.

I know governments want to negate the black market, but the Myanmar example shows that where a gov't doesn't allow personal user freedom (there to exchange in a more stable currency to buy desired goods) then people will develop their own market. So, are there 'black' markets for currency elsewhere in SE Asia? Maybe if you post as I suggest, hopefully, others will reveal.


#7 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by muzza on 19/7/2009 at 15:25

Nothing seems to have changed since I was there in 95, but that is Burma it hasnt changed since the 50's.
The exchange rate is far better on the b/market and if you give your driver/guide your $ they will change for you and most times get a bit more than you would by doing yourself. You will get asked on the street if you want to change money this is usually not a problem, just make sure the exchange is around the 1000 to 1 mark.
Burma is a magical country thanks to its long suffering people and I hope you enjoy your trip.


#8 muzza has been a member since 30/6/2009. Posts: 13

Posted by Tilapia on 30/7/2009 at 07:56

Hi Fredooo,

When you get to your guest house or hotel, ask some of the people who are already there where they are getting their money changed. You will get different answers, but not that much different. Ask the person getting the best rate where that person is getting money changed and, if he/she is good folk, you will be given directions to, and a description of the changer, or you will be taken to that person by your co-traveler. Usually it is someone nearby who is wearing pants and carrying a cel phone and sitting in a restaurant or bar. Sounds kind of seedy, but it's not. Be prepared to carry away large stacks of bills.

Taxi drivers will always be happy to help ... for a small fee. The guest house way will help you avoid the fee, and give you more options.

As mentioned, don't get money changed anywhere "official" except for on the "official black market."

Guest house and hotel owners will also change money for you, but always at a lower rate than the "official black market." This is because they are taxed by the military for their business. Even at the small, privately run places, you will still end up putting money into the military's coffers. Nobody does business over there without the official nod, regardless of what anyone says. Your guest house or hotel owner will probably tell you this and recommend that you change your money somewhere else. This will give you a better rate, and prevent a few bucks from going to the military for bullets.

As SBE says, take lots of small bills. They come in handy, as mentioned, for entrance fees, ferries, and such.

If you're going to be there during the rainy season, travel by boat as much as possible. There are many, many options for boat transport.

#9 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,521
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