Generally, Myanmar is considered to have 3 seasons. The hot season is usually from March-April, and temperatures would then cool off during the rainy season from May-October. The peak tourism season is the cool season from November-February. Temperatures can climb as high as 36°C in Yangon in the hot season while in the cool season, noontime temperatures are usually a more bearable 32°C, with night temperatures falling to around 19°C. Mandalay is slightly cooler in the cool season, with temperatures falling as low as 13°C, while temperatures in the hot season can go as high as 37°C.
Generally, Lower Myanmar, the area around Yangon, receives more rainfall than the drier Upper Myanmar (around Mandalay).
In the highlands such as Inle Lake and Pyin U Lwin, winter temperatures can fall below 10°C at night, while daytime temperatures tend to be very pleasant. Even in the summer, temperatures rarely climb above 32°C. Near the Indian border in Kachin State, there are mountains which are permanently snow capped throughout the year.
2.Money Money & Cost
Tipping, Donations & Bribes
Tipping as known in the West is not customary in Myanmar, though little extra ‘presents’ are sometimes expected (even if they’re not asked for) in exchange for a service (such as unlocking a locked temple at Bagan, helping move a bag at the airport or showing you around the ‘sights’ of a village).
It’s a good idea to keep some small notes (K50, K100, K200) when visiting a religious temple or monastery, as donations may be asked for. Also, you may wish to leave a donation.
In the past, many travellers have offered a little ‘tea money’ to officials in order to help expedite bureaucratic services such as visa extensions or getting a seat on a ‘sold out’ flight. You shouldn’t have to do this. If you overstay your visa, you’ll often pay a $3 ‘fee’ for the paperwork, in addition to the $3 per day penalty.
Most guesthouses and hotels quote prices in US dollars. These places usually accept kyat, but at a slightly disadvantageous rate (perhaps a difference of K50 or K100 to the dollar). Some hotels, shops and government ferry clerks give change in kyat or with torn US bills that you can’t use elsewhere in Myanmar. If you’re counting pennies, bring lots of small dollar bills – ones, fives and 10s – and use them to pay for your hotel.
Government-run services (such as archaeological sites, museums and ferries) and flights are paid for in US dollars or FEC notes, not euros.
Items such as meals, bus tickets, trishaw or taxi rides, bottles of water or beer and market items are usually quoted in kyat.
Any amounts over $2000 per person are supposed to be declared upon arrival.
Don’t expect to change any rumpled, torn US dollar bills. Moneychangers accept only crisp, clean (and mostly uncreased) bills, and tend to only take the ‘new’ US dollar bills (with the larger full-frame heads). We’ve heard that $100 bills starting with the serial number ‘CB’ have been turned down.
Avoid the official exchange counters, which undercut black-market rates substantially (by more than 50%). In fact, the official exchanger at the Yangon airport told us to go outside for better rates.
You will be asked to ‘change money’ many times on your trip. Technically, the only reasonable way to buy kyat is through the ‘black market’ – meaning from shops, hotels, travel agents, restaurants or less reliable guys on the street. You can change US dollars or euros in Yangon, but generally only US dollars elsewhere.
The $100 bill gets a slightly better exchange rate than a $50 or $20, and so on. And supposedly the exchange rate is marginally better early in the week (Monday or Tuesday). We’ve also been told that exchange rates sometimes fluctuate with poppy season too!
It’s safest to change money in hotels or shops, rather than on the street. The moneychangers standing around just east of the Mahabandoola Garden in Yangon have a reputation for short-changing new arrivals for several thousand kyat.
Never hand over your money until you’ve received the kyat and counted them. Honest moneychangers will expect you do this. Considering that K1000 is the highest denomination (roughly $0.90), you’ll get a lot of notes. Moneychangers give ready-made, rubber-banded stacks of a hundred K1000 bills. It’s a good idea to check each note individually. Often you’ll find one or two (or more) with a cut corner or taped together, neither of which anyone will accept. We heard from some travellers that Yangon moneychangers have asked for a ‘commission’.
Many travellers do the bulk of their exchanging in Yangon, where you can get about K100 more per dollar than elsewhere, then carry the stacks of kyat for a couple of weeks around the country. Considering the relative safety from theft, it’s not a bad idea, but you can exchange money elsewhere.
Also, when paying for rooms and services in US dollars, check your change carefully. Locals like to unload slightly torn $5 bills that work fine in New York, but will be meaningless for the rest of your trip.
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