Basic Travel Information
Myanmar is a cash-driven economy. In Myanmar, you are likely to pay for almost everything with cash. Travelers are advised to bring U.S. dollars—AUD, EUR, GBP and other currencies are not widely accepted. is known as the “kyat” (pronounced “chat,” and abbreviated K). Travelers should ensure they arrive in Myanmar with enough US dollars for all expected expenses.
ATMs are generally not available, and where available, are limited to main tourist destinations such as Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle, ATMs offer local currencies only and withdrawals are limited in very small amounts (currently about US$20 equivalent) and incur a very high service fee per transaction.
The bills should be unmarked and in excellent condition, as moneychangers are reluctant to deal with damaged notes. US dollar bills have to be pristine - no fold line, no marks on the notes, no bent corners, no fading. US dollars can be changed at the airport, banks and some hotels. When bringing cash in US currency, it is useful to bring a wide range of denominations. The best exchange rate is for US$100 and US$50 notes, but the smaller ones (US$1, US$5 and US$10 bills) are indispensable for paying museum and temple entry fees, which are charged to tourists in US dollars.
The $100 bill gets a slightly better exchange rate than a $50 or $20, and so on. It’s safest to change money at banks, hotels and shops, rather than on the street. Never hand over your money until you’ve received the kyat and counted them. Moneychangers give ready-made, rubber-banded stacks of a hundred K1,000 bills. It’s a good idea to check each note individually. Often you’ll find one or two (or more) with a cut corner or taped together, neither of which anyone will accept. The official rate is about 900 kyat to the dollar and it’s almost the same rate everywhere.
Credit cards & Travelers cheques
Credit cards and travelers cheques are generally NOT accepted in Myanmar. However, some high-end restaurants and hotels, including the Sule Traders Hotel in Yangon, are able to accept very limited credit cards.
Myanmar observes UTC/GMT + 6:30 Standard Time year round
The voltage in Myanmar is 220-230 Volts AC. Myanmar, especially Yangon, occasionally experiences intermittent power cuts and brown-outs. Most of the international hotels, including the Sule Shangri-La Hotel, have their own back-up generators. Other places may experience power cuts and voltage fluctuation which can damage equipment like computers. It is advisable to travel with the appropriate surge protection for your electrical items.
During the Forum, Myanmar will be in its “Cool Season” (October through February) with average temperatures 20-24 C (68 – 75 F).
What to wear
Myanmar is a conservative country, and that includes local dress. Avoid wearing shorts and other revealing clothes. When visiting any temple, dress appropriately and keep your legs covered (long skirts, halfway between knee and ankle, are fine; shorts, on men or women, are not). As with nearly all Buddhist monuments, footwear is not permitted. Visitors must remove their footwear and socks at the gates before even setting foot inside the complex.
Internet access is confined to large hotels and internet cafés; however the connection is often slow. Due to bandwidth restrictions, Internet speeds can change markedly throughout the day depending upon usage demand. Be careful to not save your password or sensitive information when using public computer terminals.
International roaming with a number of western mobile networks is now possible in Myanmar; the situation is changing fast, so it is best to check with your operator. However, you may encounter a block on SMS text messaging even if you are able to make and receive calls. The mobile phone industry and availability of SIM cards in Myanmar are in a state of flux. For many years, SIM cards were very expensive, but in April 2013 the price of a SIM card was reduced to K1,500 (US$1.70). However, these cards are currently only available to Myanmar citizens on a lottery basis. It is possible, however, to rent a SIM card (and hand set) from vendors in the arrival halls at Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan airports. This costs between $5 to $12 per day, depending on the rental period. Some outlets will sell permanent SIM cards to foreigners, usually costing around K150,000 (you typically have to pay an additional fee to enable 3G mobile internet). Phones work on a top-up basis, with K5,000 and K10,000 cards available. The best place to buy a SIM is at the airport on arrival in Yangon. Elsewhere in the country, they are difficult to find. Micro SIM cards (for use in iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and other high-end smart phones) are not available in Myanmar.
Tipping is not compulsory but it is greatly appreciated throughout Southeast Asia, especially in the service industry. For reference, we have provided a general guideline below. Tour Guide/Drivers: If you are pleased with the services provided by your tour guide and driver, then a tip for their hard work will be very much appreciated. In general, we recommend around US$10 -15/day/traveler for guides and US$5-7/day/traveler for drivers if less than 4 people in a group. We recommend around US$5-10/day/traveler for guides and US$3-5/day/traveler for drivers if there are 5 people or more. Hotel & Restaurant Staff: A tipping of 5-10% of the total bill in restaurants is appreciated. If you stay a couple of days in the same hotel, a tip to the maid service of $2-3/day is appreciated. For porters, US$2-3/time/room is acceptable.