At the time 1 USD = 980 Ks to the USD. Before passing through customs at the airport there is a government service offering generally the best rates to the US$. Banks are now accepting US $, European €, Singapore $ and FEC (but only at banks outside of the airport). XE.com is still one of the best websites out there for checking international exchange rates.
Currently KBZ and Co-op have ATM’s that will accept International cards, though not all machines. We have listed branches that have external ATM machines in anticipation of the future. If you spot one, then please email us. US sanctions have started to ease so hopefully soon travelers will have access to all currency machines directly. A withdrawal charge of 5,000K is applied though.
Opening times for banks and dedicated currency exchange outlets differs. Banks are generally open Monday to Saturday from 0900-1500, though not all exchange currency (closing at 1400 on Saturday). Dedicated currency exchange outlets (such as KBZ) are open 7-days a week from 0900-1500, closing early on Saturday and Sunday at 1400. Banks are closed on full-moon festivals.
Euro or Dollar?
There’s much debate on the Internet about this topic – hopefully if you’re travelling from the Euro zone, this will help set your mind at rest.
• All hotels charge in US$ or occasionally they will accept Kyats. You will always get a better rate by paying in US$. We’ve not heard of any hotel that has an issue with handling $100 bills. The money that they give you in return has already passed the scrutinous eye of the hotelier; that said, check them again yourself.
• All sites of interest require US$ and when they do accept €, they are treated like for like (i,e. $5 = €5), so it makes sense to pay in US$. The best places to use your worst dollar notes are at sites where you have to use US$ as an entrance fee.
• Comparing the exchange rate of the US$ and the € against the GB£, you will get 47 Kyats more for your money exchanging € as opposed to US$. So if you’re travelling from the Eurozone, bring some along for exchange
In summary, you will need US$ for hotels and sites, but bring your € for exchanging into Kyats.
The Kyat is now tracked on xe.com and fluctuates between 840-860 for 1US$
As with the banks if you are changing currency with the hotels/ black-market, then you will get a better exchange rate for $100 bills than $50 bills descending accordingly. Black-marketeer’s hang out near most of the tourist attractions, where we were offered rates varying between 860-880Ks to the dollar, which for us didn’t seem like a risk worth taking.
The general rule of thumb is to keep you currency in pristine condition (a suitably sized pencil case has proven ideal for this task and it fits under your pillow at night!). Every site that we’ve visited had plenty of dollars to be able to give change. Be prepared to hand back currency that you are not happy with. The best places to use your worst dollar notes are at sites where you have to use US$ as an entrance fee.
Branches of Yoma Bank are now accepting slightly soiled/ marked dollar bills for exchange, though you must also give them some nice notes at the same time! In addition, we’ve been told by a local guide that they also give a better rate of exchange for smaller notes than other banks.
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