Myanmar Currency

A single $100 U.S. bill and the 125 x 1000 kyat bills it buys you in Myanmar

Over the last fifteen years or so, the Myanmar currency (the Kyat, pronounced "chat") has been suffering inflation at a rate of about 30% per year. The biggest bill in the country is 1000Ks, currently worth about $0.80US. What you see above is a $100 US bill, and the stack of currency it buys: 100 bills on the left, the extra 25 on the right. The common reference to the stack on the left is a "lakh," a term I heard in India that means one hundred thousand. Paying large bills in Kyat means carrying literally bags of cash. However, the U.S. dollar is acceptable at most larger establishments - in fact, it's one of the country's three official currencies. The third is the FEC, which is a monetary unit issued by the government that has the exact same value as the U.S. dollar, but cannot be spent outside Myanmar.

I'm told that the Lao Kip is actually worse: $100 US will make you a billionaire, and the amount of currency you receive will require a small bag to carry.

Myanmar, bills of various currency

Here's a look at some of the bills. Sorry I didn't think to flip any of them over. The 5 Kyat bill near the bottom features Bogyoke Aung San, a national hero that the government isn't too fond of. Notice that he isn't on the newer version of the bill.

Speaking of weird currency issues: money changing institutions in Thailand offer three different rates depending on the American bills you hold: $50 and $100 US will get you 41.07 Baht per dollar, while $5, $10, or $20 bills will get you 40.61 Baht/$, and $1 and $2 bills get 40.25 Baht/$. It's also exceedingly important that you provide crispy clean bills. Myanmar has similar preferences in bills.