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money exchange
Last update: June 25, 2020

Money Exchange.

Last update: June 25, 2020

Dual-currency and Dual pricing.

Until a few years ago Myanmar was one of the Asian countries which used a Dual-currency money system. Dual-currency means the common use of 2 different currencies in one country. For example, in Siem Reap, Cambodia, one can use US-dollars for everything because Cambodia is a dual-currency country - even the ATMs dispense dollars. In Myanmar however there are no dollars bills dispensed but only kyat notes.

Dual-currency can be used to enable dual pricing. Dual pricing systems are usually intended to make foreign tourists pay more than locals, and for foreign tourists, some zone-fees, and all airfares are payable in dollars. Burmese people pay a lower price, usually in Kyats.

Myanmar is not the only Asian country using dual pricing; for example, the Taj Mahal has a 40 Rupees entry fee for Indian nationals, and a slightly higher 1000 Rupees fee for foreigners. In Thailand the National Parks also use dual pricing, and foreigners usually have to pay 5 or 10 times as much as locals to enter a park. The Thai entry fees are shown in Thai script, and thus not obvious to the western tourist.

For example, when booking airline tickets online, foreigners pay in dollars at the high foreigner rate. Flights can be about 20 to 40 percent lower for Burmese people. Myanmar people can choose the option "Myanmar National" and pay the lower rate for people with a Myanmar passport.

Foreign tourists can nowadays also pay hotels and guesthouses in kyats but - not at the lower rate for Burmese citizens. Many Burmese people cannot afford the luxury hotels for foreign tourists, and stay in local guesthouses and hotels. These cheap hotels do not have a license to allow foreigners to stay there. The trains have the same price for foreigners and Burmese citizens, and are payable in kyats; which makes train trips very cheap.

Similar to hotels, restaurants also use dual pricing. Some restaurants have a menu for foreigners with foreigner's pricing, and a menu written in Burmese with local pricing. The popular "restaurant street" in Bagan has many restaurants geared towards tourists, with food like hamburgers, pizza, avocado salad, and these are more expensive than the simpler restaurants that serve local food. These Burmese restaurants are cheaper, serve only local food, and are often overlooked by western tourists.

Fortunately, the complicated black-market has vanished many years ago; until April 2012 the kyat had both an official and a black-market rate. The official rate was about 6 kyat per US dollar, but the black-market rate somewhat higher at 840 kyat to the dollar. Which explains why travelers changed money on the black-market. On 2-April-2012 the Burmese central bank officially floated the kyat and normal money exchange became legal.

 

Currency exchanges (FOREX).

Since 2014 there are many money exchange counters throughout towns in Myanmar; they will change euros, US-dollars and Singapore dollars to kyat and vice versa. At all border towns Thai Baht can be exchanged. This is also possible in Yangon and Mandalay but usually not elsewhere.

Since 2013 there are ATMs but it might be smart to bring some cash money - if only as a backup. And notice that changing cash can be done without commission at quite good rates in most towns and villages in Myanmar; and thus the exchange of cash is always a better deal than using an ATM.

One of the limitations of the ATMs is the maximum withdrawal of 300.000 kyats, because 300.000 kyats is only about 200 US dollars or 190 euro. One can make a maximum of three withdrawals per day, but the ATM service fees will add up, and your home bank will add a fee as well.

Myanmar's banks.

The main banks with exchange desks and international ATMs are the KBZ Bank, AGD Bank and CB Bank. KBZ or Kanbawza Bank is the largest bank and has the most ATMs and exchange desks; they have probably more ATMs than AGD Bank and CB Bank together. There are no major international banks in Myanmar at the moment, except ANZ (Australia and New Zealand) bank and a few Thai and Chinese banks.

    Myanmar's banks abbreviations
  • AGD Bank = Asia Green Development Bank
  • AYA Bank = Ayeyarwady Bank
  • CB Bank   = Co-operative Bank
  • KBZ Bank = Kanbawza Bank
  • MAB Bank = Myanma Apex Bank
  • MEB Bank = Myanma Economic Bank
  • MCB Bank = Myanmar Citizens Bank

Note: You need your passport (or a copy of it) at the exchange counters. All banks are closed on weekends, but many exchange counters are open.

 

List of foreign currency exchanges in Myanmar.

Airport exchanges (everyday service, limited hours)

In many countries the exchange rate at the airport is not as good as the rates in the city, however this is NOT true for Yangon airport. Though there are small differences in rate between the exchange counters, the rate is usually very close to the exchange rate in Yangon town.

Usually the exchange counters are open until 11 PM in the new Terminal 1 of the Yangon airport. Terminal 1 is the international terminal, Terminal 3 is the domestic terminal. The old terminal 2 is closed for renovations. The new terminals are visible on OpenStreetMap.

  • Yangon Airport: Many exchange counters; 6 ATMs
  • Mandalay Airport: A few currency exchanges and a few ATMs.
  • Heho Airport (Inle): CB Bank and AYA Bank exchanges and 1 ATM.
  • Nyaung-U Airport (Bagan): Four Money exchanges and 3 ATMs.

When leaving Myanmar remember to change your kyats to US-dollars or to euro in the airport BEFORE going through immigration.

 

Yangon Money exchanges.

Bogyoke Aung San Market, which is opened from 9:30AM to 5:30PM and closed on Monday, used to be the best place to exchange money. Nowadays there are a few exchanges in Bogyoke Aung San Market, but also many others all over Yangon city.

  • Bogyoke Aung San Market: AGD Money Exchange at the back of the market.
  • PCL Money Changer: Anawrahta Rd, near interchange of Sule Pagoda rd.
  • CB Bank, 101, Ground Flr, Sakura Tower, Bogyoke Aung San Road.
  • CB Bank (Co-operative bank), corner of 23rd street and Strand. (ATM)
  • CB bank, Maha Bandoola rd. No-797, corner of Bo Aung Kyaw street (ATM)
  • CB Bank, Botahtaung Pagoda Street No 191 (Tue - Sun)
  • Fame Money Changer, 152 Anawrahta Road.
  • Junction Square Shopping Mall, CB Bank, corner of Pyay rd and Kyundaw street
  • KBZ Bank exchange counter, Bank street

The best money exchange offices, in Bogyoke Market, and PCL Money Changer on Anawrahta Road are on the Yangon map: Yangon map

Mandalay Money exchange

    Money exchange in Mandalay around the station.
  • AYA Bank, between 77th and 78th, Corner of 30th Street. (ATM)
  • AYA Bank, 78th street opposite the Diamond Plaza center. (27x7 ATM)
  • CB Bank, corner of 78th and 33 Street, Diamond Plaza center. (ATM)
  • MCB Bank (Myanmar Citizens Bank), corner of 27th and 81st Street.
    Money exchange in Mandalay around the SE-corner of the citadel.
  • CB Bank, Corner of 66th Street and 27th (Near Sedona Hotel)
  • Farmer money exchange, 30 street and 65 Street.
  • Zone Express Tours, 27th St. between 66-68th (next to Sedona Hotel) - they also change less pristine notes.
    In Mandalay at the Kywel Sel Kan/Chan Mya Shwe Pyi Bus Station.
  • KBZ Bank exchange at the North-south Highway 1 near the main bus station.

Nyaung Shwe - Inle lake Money exchange

  • AGD Bank, Yone Gyi Street, close to the market
  • KBZ Bank next to the market. (ATM)
  • Exchange service next to the AGD bank.
  • The Supermarket on Yone Gyi Street, opposite market

supermarket NyaungShwe
The Supermarket on Yone Gyi Street, NyaungShwe. Help yourself!

Nyaung-U / BAGAN Money exchange

  • KBZ Bank - Anawrahta / airport road intersection. (ATM)
  • AGD Bank - exchange office and ATM at restaurant road.
  • In New-Bagan: the Yadana Mart (supermarket)


    Money exchange in Bago
  • CB Bank Money Change, No-9, Min Road, North Zainganaing Qtr.
    Money exchange in Mawlamyine (Moulmein)
  • KBZ Bank and AGD Bank - Strand Road, North of market (ATM)
  • Money changers on Lower Main road, North of market
    Money exchange in Hsipaw
  • KBZ Bank Money Change (ATM)
    Money exchange in Ngapali Beach
  • Two KBZ ATMs on Ngapali Beach road. Several more ATMs of other banks.
  • KBZ Bank at the Thandwe airport and in Thandwe village
    Money exchange in Ngwe Saung Beach
  • Bay of Bengal Resort exchange service, Ngwe Saung Beach.
  • KBZ Bank at the main road out of Ngwe Saung village.
    Money exchange in Sittwe
  • AYA Bank, No(167), Yupa Taung Quarter,Sittwe Road. (ATM)
  • CB Bank Money Change, No. (Lama/35), Main Road.
  • KBZ Bank, No (10), Main Rd. (ATM)
    Money exchange in Mrauk-U
  • KBZ Bank, U Ottama Street, opposite Shwe Thazin hotel. (only one ATM in Mrauk-U !)
    Money exchange in Myawaddy (border town with Mae Sot):
  • Many money exchanges on the main road near the border.

AGD bank in NyaungShwe
The AGD bank in Nyaung Shwe, Inle lake.

Zone fees and budget for Myanmar

An eVisa for Myanmar is 50 dollars on the official government's website. Do not click on the Google Ads for visa service; all these third-party "services" cost more and take longer than the official site of the Myanmar government.

The following is a list of the Archaeological Zone fees. The Mandalay Archaeological Zone fee is the only one that can be avoided, for example by skipping the Royal palace and the Shwenandaw Monastery.

Yangon startup cost

  • Airport taxi to downtown: 10.000 kyat
  • There is also a frequent shuttle bus for 500 kyat to Sule Pagoda.
  • Shwedagon Pagoda 10.000 kyat / 8 USD
  • Botataung Pagoda: 5 USD

Bagan startup cost

  • Zone fee: 25.000 kyat
  • Archaeological Museum: 5 USD
  • Ebike: 6000-10000 kyat
  • Hotel in Nyaung U: 10 - 50 USD
  • Hotel in Old Bagan: 100 - 250 USD

Inle lake startup cost

  • Heho airport: Nyaung Shwe is 45 min. driving and taxis charge 25.000 kyat, for 3 people 8400 kyat each.
  • Zone fee: 15.000 kyat / 10 USD
  • Hotel in Nyaung Shwe: 10 - 100 USD
  • Resort on lake: 50 - 200 USD

Mandalay startup cost

  • The airport is 45 min. driving from the city; the Shwe Nan San shuttle bus (every hour) is 4 USD, a shared taxi is 5 USD per person.
  • Mandalay Archaeological Zone fee: 10.000 kyat, valid for Royal palace, Shwenandaw Monastery, Atumashi Monastery, Kuthodaw Paya, Bagaya Monastery (Inwa)
  • Mahamuni Pagoda: 5000 kyat
  • Free: Shwe In Bin Kyaung, Mandalay hill
  • Sagaing Zone fee: 5000 kyat valid for Sagaing Hill and Mingun. Mingun and Sagaing are on the other side of the Irrawaddy river in Sagaing state, and have a separate zone fee.

Credit cards and ATMs

Most credit cards work in ATMs. Credit cards are also accepted by major hotels and can be used for booking them, and most airlines can also be booked with credit cards. However, don't count on always being able to use you credit cards even if staying in mid-range or rather posh hotels - Myanmar is not a modern country by any means and Cash is king.

Tipping in Asia.

Tipping in Asian countries is rarely expected, and only done with small amounts. For example, in Japan it is considered offensive and quite rude to tip.

Money is not the most important thing in life for Burmese people. Only very few people believe that "Money makes the world go round", on the contrary, the national obsession of most Burmese is stupa building for making merit, from the giant golden Shwedagon pagoda in Yangon, to the many small stupas in all villages across Myanmar. So, sometimes Burmese people are surprised when you tip.

Burmese people are very reluctant to accept tips, because they don't like to be rewarded for a service. For example, in Bagan a caretaker or someone else will show you around, but refuse money. Instead, he will show you his paintings afterwards, and try to sell one to you. Selling a product is an honest profession, selling a service is not.

Nevertheless, a small tip of one or two dollars can make a waiter happy, and a few thousand kyats tip can make a taxi driver's day. And a small tip can be more rewarding than tipping in Europe where a tip is often received with indifference.


The Kyat is a non-convertible currency!

Note that the kyat is a non-convertible currency, and taking kyats out of the country is prohibited. Kyats cannot be exchanged anywhere outside of Myanmar, except at a few small exchange agents in Chiang Mai.


Money exchange links.


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