If you are going to take a trip to Burma, getting to know about Myanmar money is crucial. The Burmese Kyat is the official currency of Myanmar (Burma). It has gone through a long road and witnessed many historic events of Myanmar. Thus, since the first day of issuing up to now, Myanmar money has changed a lot from the shape, size of color, unit.
History of Money
The first Kyat was released in both gold and silver coins in Myanmar til 1889. At that time, 16 silver Kyats exchanged 1 gold Kyat. The amount of the silver Kyat was corresponding to the Indian Rupee, which took the place of the Kyat when Burma was the colony of the British.
When Burma was under the control of the Japanese in 1942, the Rupee was public. In 1943 the Kyat currency was once again introduced to replace the Rupee. Then the value of the Kyat was limited after the end of the war when the Rupee went back to circulation.
The current Kyat was released on July 1, 1952, and stayed in circulation until 1989. At that time, The authority eliminated the old banknotes because of inflation’s impact.
Description of Burmese currency
The currency code for Kyats is MMK, and the currency symbol is K; the minor unit is 1/100 = pya. The unit of the Kyat is the wide range from 50 pyas to K10,000. Each of them has its own different color, famous symbol and image containing the traditional values, the spirit of Myanmar. For example, in 10 kyats (K10), the main color is purple and the image of Chinthe (lion-like creature) that often seen at the entrance of temple and pagoda and Karaweik (royal regalia boat) appear in each side.
While in the country, you’ll use a mix of US dollars and Myanmar Kyat. Almost hotels, domestic airfares train tickets, and entrance fees will be transacted in USD, while everything else (food, souvenirs, uses etc) will be used in kyat. Along with USD, if you want to use Euros and Singapore dollars, it’s quite easy to exchange at the Yangon (& Mandalay) airport and banks. Below are indicative cross exchange rates for some certain currencies (updated on 21 March 2018 based on data from Central Bank of Myanmar).
1 USD = K1,338.0 (US dollar)
1 EUR = K1,640.1 (Euro)
1 SGD = K1,014.7 (Singapore dollar)
Money Tips for Myanmar travel
When you decide to make your Myanmar tours, bring all the money you plan to use to the country in cash and use Visa / Mastercard as a backup.
The airport (during regular hours) and the banks are the best places to exchange currency. The best rates and the security will be offered here so you’ll get what you should be getting. Do not exchange money on the streets or black market.
Now in 2018, there are over 1,000 ATM machines in Myanmar. All popular tourist cities and some hotels will have them. However, think of the ATM as a backup plan, and certainly not the single source of funds for your travels here. Note that every machine had a maximum withdrawal limit of 300,000 kyats (about $225USD) per transaction.
Several places in Myanmar accepted credit cards, so just in case you are running low on cash you may be able to use your credit card, however, there may be fees. In case of using the credit card, it’s best to call your credit card company and bank in advance to let them know you’ll be traveling, so the chance of your card being blocked is reduced.