Information & Facts
Burmese is the official language, yet English is widely
spoken and understood. Burmese's alphabet is made up of circular
and semi-circular characters. Other languages spoken are Karen,
Shan and Kachin.
The official currency is the Kyat (MMK) pronounced 'Chat'. The
best currency to travel on in Myanmar is the US Dollar. The Foreign
Exchange Certificate (FEC) is a legal currency for visiting
tourists that is usable in government shops and hotels. It is no
longer a requirement to convert US$200 into FEC upon arrival in
Myanmar. One FEC is equivalent to one US Dollar. It is recommended
to use US Dollars. It is difficult to cash American Express
travellers cheques in certain cities, such as Mandalay, and even
when it is possible the commission can be as high as 10 percent. US
Dollar notes will not be accepted if they are damaged or torn in
any way, or have pen marks on them.
There is a big difference between the official and
unofficial exchange rates; street moneychangers offer
favourable rates at hotels and Scott Market. As a rough guide, the
black market rate is in the region of US$1 = MMK 1000 - a dramatic
difference when compared to the official government rate. Very few
major hotels, airlines, shops and restaurants accept credit cards
and ATM cards can rarely, if ever, be used. It is advisable to
carry cash. Banks are closed on weekends.