Myanmar Money and Communication
This section deals with information about money and ways of communication for travelers to Myanmar. It is very important for tourists to get an idea of how to deal with money and communicate before they travel to any other country.
Three types of currencies are used in Myanmar – two of which are legal and the third is called the ‘foreign currency to expense’ as you need a license to use it. The first is the national currency of Myanmar which is called Kyat pronounced as “Chet”. The value of kyat has decreased in value over the last decade. The following kyat banknotes are in use K 1, K 5, K 20, K 50, K 100, K 500 and K 1000.
It is recommended that the travelers bring in a mix of dollars and kyat on a trip to Myanmar. Euros and Singapore dollars can be easily exchanged at Yangon (& Mandalay) airport and banks. USD is the safest when exchanging funds in the streets and jewelers. Larger bills can be exchanged at a higher rate than the smaller bills.
The second legal currency in Myanmar is the Foreign Exchange Certificate (FEC). For a citizen of Myanmar no special permission or license is needed to accept FEC and thus it can be used anywhere with ease. One USD equals to one FEC. Payment for FECs is accepted in US dollars, pounds sterling. At the Yangon Myanmar International airport credit cards may also be used to purchase FEC.
The safest places to exchange money in Myanmar are the airport and the banks. They offer the best rates. It is advisable not to exchange money on streets.
Modern Myanmar has around 100 ATMs in the country making it easy for the travelers to withdraw money. It is a huge change after the sanctions were lifted in mid late 2012. Though with time the success rate with the ATMs seem to be improving, it is advisable that ATMs should never be considered as a single source of funds but only as a backup plan. The withdrawal limit per transaction is approximately $300 but may differ from bank to bank.
Telecommunication system in Myanmar seems to be lagging behind than most developed countries. Penetration of mobile phones and internet is significantly low. SIM cards are unlikely to work since international roaming facilities with western mobile network are unavailable. At present, some roaming facilities are available with Asian countries like Thailand (AIS), Singapore (M1 and Singtel), Indonesia (Telkomsel) and Vietnam (Viettel). SMS or texting maybe patchy or even blocked.
SIM cards can be either rented or bought in Myanmar. They can be either bought in the airports and numerous other downtown shops in Yangdon and Mandalay. Travelers have to spent US$ 1.70 equivalent to K1500 (Kyat) for purchasing a single SIM. Renting a SIM card may cost $2 to $5 per day depending on the rental period. Mobiles work on top-up basis. With a permanent SIM card you can pay an additional fee to enable 3G internet. Foreigners are required to submit two passport sized photos for registration of SIM card.
Since mobile phone usage is expensive phone stands are an easy way to communicate. They are found in the streets and shops of Myanmar. International call will cost around $5 dollars per minute whereas, local calls are only 15 cents or K100 per minute.
When in Yangon, make sure you begin your call with (09) when using a mobile phone. If using a landline, begin the call with (01). These prefixes are not required for emergency numbers. To call Myanmar from another country add (+95).
Emergency Numbers (Yangon):
Child Abuse– 199
Other Important Numbers (Yangon):
Yangon Airport– 533167-168, 662811
Railway Station– 274027, 202175-8
Highway Bus Station– 642122
Weather Inquiry- 660176, 660541, 660828
Tourist Information– 252859
Tourist Safety Unit– 642742, 549209
Yangon General Hospital– 256112, 256131
Main Post Office-28549, 380342
Red Cross– 383684