KYAT vs USD in Myanmar [Updated]

I know Yangon is a fairly sensitive destination now (maybe since forever) but, I insisted on pursuing with the visit myself, regardless. I left Yangon on the 13th, and found out that a homemade bomb had been planted in one of the rooms at Traders Hotel that very same day I left. I wasn't staying there, but I passed by the hotel quite a few times while I was walking around). So yes, I am devastated. Just when I thought I could help Yangon one way or another, small or big, this happened. One American lady was injured, and her family is unhurt. At this moment, visitors have been issued a warning, so please keep aware at all times. Don't be a douche, don't step on people's tail. I know sometimes, some people are just at the wrong time at a wrong place, so I hope you always ask for mercy and ask for blessings for your journey.

Before I left for Myanmar, I had been reading so much about the country, I was pretty certain that I was prepared for all it has to offer. I had my USDs packed up neatly on all corners of my bagpack. But nothing answers all your questions except for being there for yourself and going through the streets.

Day 1, upon checking into my hostel (which was Ocean Pearl Inn), I used up my USDs and paid for all the nights I was staying. Okay that was peasy. I went out to check out some of the cafes and restaurants, and realised they accepted both Kyats (pronouced JIAT) and USDs so I figured, this is great! After my third or fourth purchases, the Burmese would prompt me whether I would like to pay in USDs or in Kyats. Okay this is still great... except that then, I was beginning to wonder why would they ask me so?

Before flying in, my initial plan was to improve their Kyat Dollars, after all it's their original currency. If USD is still highly requested worldwide, then it would have improved the USD instead (not that they didn't needed the help, they still do what with all the issues regarding their debt now) but since I was visiting Myanmar, their priorities came first (yes it took me this long of a reasoning to change to which currency while I was queuing up at the money changer counter).

BUT -- everyone else online told me that everyone there is using USD. Even my hostel was requesting 25USD/ night. Soooooo evenetually I changed all my money in Malaysia to USD.

Had I known, I could have requested to pay in Kyat, I would have. Hah.

Once reaching there, and realising all these different currencies are making me lose track of how much exactly the damages were. And then after some basic mental arithmetic, I decided I was going to change 80% of what money I have when I had reached Yangon to Kyats because, I realised the USD had cost me by a little bit more. I am impressed that the Kyats' value is of dollar to dollar - great stuff. So,

MYR 1 = MMK 307 
MYR 1 = USD 0.315 
Then it means, MMK < USD

I felt noble to have been on track with my initial plan again, eventhough that means I could have also helped improved the particular shop/ restaurant/ hostel's revenue with a USD. I had long term improvement in mind >:]

So if I were you I would recommend you to change most of your money in KYAT while you're still in Malaysia. But you must also know, that not all money changers have Kyats (now this is where it all gets tricky again). There are still some other institutions out there who prefer USDs but you as a consumer, can still request to pay in Kyat. Still estranges me me how you can shift around to pay in which currency.

Tips and Recommendations:
I have experienced first hand, that the Burmese STRICTLY DO NOT ACCEPT "dirty money". By that it means, all your higher USD denominations will be kindly pushed back to you should it had the slightest of wrinkles and smudges. And by slightest, I mean super slightest. I had one of my 100USD pushed back to me, I went awol for a bit but luckily I had other better looking 100USDs. If you had brought just "enough" only, you'd go awol too because ATMs there are fairly limited. So please keep this in mind! Not joking.

Jacqueline Rowena @ Jacqkie.


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