In Myanmar you pay with “kyat”. One kyat is not worth a lot though, currently one Euro gets you about 1600 of them… 😄 Since just a few kyat don’t get you anywhere, there are also only notes and no coins. The smallest ist 50 kyat (about 3 €-cent) and the biggest 10.000 (bit more than 6€). This means that when you go to the ATM to withdraw the maximum of 300.000 kyat, you end up with a thick bundle of cash! 😀
The most interesting aspect is changing money though. People here are obsessed with new and beautiful dollar notes. They will only change notes that are not folded and are not dirty. The owners of our first guest house said they would love to take all dollar notes but they also know that the banks will only take the nice ones. Sometimes though they try and get rid of the old ones by exchanging them with Americans on their way home. All this is especially interesting because some of the local kyat banknotes are really really old and ugly and nobody seems to care about that… 🙂
There are sometimes also even different exchange rates for different notes – see image below.
Interestingly it happened to us a few times that locals wanted to give us Euro or USD and exchange them. Usually this was in touristy places. It was particularly fun when a monk asked us for money. We thought they are actually not allowed to do that. All he ended up wanting though was to change a 5 Euro bill… 😄
One final observation on the differences in terms of development between China and Myanmar: The close to cashless society in China (see our post here) is still many, many years away from Myanmar. Here, you actually don’t see so many people running around with smartphones and cash is still king.