Cash rules in Burma, where there are no international ATMs, and you can only very rarely use plastic. U.S. dollars are widely accepted, and small bills, whether you're paying in U.S. dollars or in the local currency, are always best. Flights to Burma are not cheap; as of this writing, a round-trip flight from Guangzhou, China to Yangon cost around $450.
Currency and Exchange
The local currency in Burma is the kyat (pronounced "chy-aht"). Coins exist but are rarely given as change. Banknotes range from 50 pyas (cents) up to 10,000 kyats. Although U.S. dollars are widely used and sometimes the only payment accepted, it's important to change some U.S. cash over to kyats. Arrive in Yangon with crisp, unmarked bills printed no earlier than 2006, including at least one $10 bill, which you'll need for your cab ride from the airport. Creased bills will not be accepted. $100 bills will get you the best exchange rates, which fluctuate daily and from one location to the next; do not change money at "official" exchange booths, as they have very poor rates. As of this writing, the best rates (near Bogyoke Market) were around 850 kyat to the dollar.
Luxury hotels tack on 15-20% tax; local guesthouses tax a bit less. There's a 10% sales tax on goods bought in proper shops (as opposed to from street vendors). Sales taxes go to the government, so try and buy from local vendors when possible.
Tips are not expected in Burma except at luxury hotels, or when someone goes out of their way to help you. By the same token, many people in Burma earn less than $1 per day, and so a tip really goes a long way.
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