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What Currency Do I Need for My Myanmar Trip

June 24, 2013 DESTINATION No Comments Email Email

The local currency in Myanmar is the Kyat. This is abreviated to K or Ks and can be written in front of the numerical value or after it.

It is often seen written as MMK. It is subdivided into pya. The coins are available in units of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 pyas and K1, K5, K10, K20, K50, K100, K200, K500, K1000, K5000 and K 10,000. This can be confusing and requires care when on your Myanmar trip. It was originally issued in the form of gold and silver coins in the mid 19th century. Since those days the currency has undergone several changes before arriving where it is today.

The first banknotes did not appear until 1944 and are now the main denominations. In 2009 the K5000 banknotes were issued for the first time and have the words FIVE THOUSAND KYATS 5000 written boldly in English. Local people greeted the money with a certain scepticism expecting leaps in inflation to follow. This prophecy has been somewhat self-fulfilling. In 2012 this was followed by the K10,000 notes.

One US dollar is equal to about K943, whilst black market values put the rate at somewhere between 750 and 1335 Kyats to the dollar. As with all newer currency exchanges the black markets seem to drive the overall legitimate market. Black market rates USD to MMK increase during the main tourist season of December to January. In 2012 the Central Bank of Myanmar issued a statement saying that the value of the Kyat would be allowed to float against the dollar, and set an initial rate of K818 to the USD. Only as recently as March 2013, the Finance Ministry announce the abolition of the Foreign Exchange Certificates, which had previously been necessary for any holiday maker taking Myanmar trip, wishing to buy at least $200 worth of currency.

The only places to exchange money in Myanmar are the banks, shops and hotels. Check the rate before exchanging and remember that your US dollars have to be in perfect condition. They will not accept torn notes and notes that have been written on. Make sure to check your American dollars before even thinking about your Myanmar trip. It is always worth carrying more than you need as there are extremely strict on this. Whilst it can be a nuisance having to carry more than you need, it is better than the alternative of running out of currency in a country, where credit cards are only just starting to be accepted. Even where they are there will be fees for every transaction.

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