Updated 20 July
Frequently asked questions about money for tourists new to the country formerly known as Burma.
Should I exchange money at a bank?
Yes, if a bank is open. Or a legal exchange shop.
Once upon a time, maybe four years ago, I had never exchanged dollars or baht for kyat at a Burmese bank because the official exchange rate was many, many times less than the (easily obtained) street rate. Something momentous happened with little fanfare.
The bank rate now is considered good enough--and certainly better than you will get in your hotel.
So when do I use dollars?
Hotels and guesthouses everywhere state their room rates in dollars. The more upscale hotels prefer dollars, but just about all now will take kyat (at about 1,370 kyat to the dollar as of 2017) or a combination of dollars and kyat. Staff will calculate the kyt amount based on the day's rate, now easily accessible with the proliferation of the internet and smartphone. If the dollars are less than pristine, Myanmar staff will probably prefer kyat. To pay for a flight in cash at a travel agency or airline office, though, you'll need dollars.
The recipient will give you change in dollars or part dollars/part kyat. Some museums and temples require foreigners to pay in dollars, so keep singles on hand. Supposedly, some sites state the fee in dollars or euros, but I have only encountered it at one place: entering the Inle Lake area by road, foreigners could pay either $10 or 10 euros. Keep the receipt, which is valid for your entire stay there.