The current exchange rate is about 1500 Kyat to $1 USD. There are numerous banks now in town as well as at the airport. There are now ATM kiosks as well now around the city, allowing you to withdrawal 300,000 Kyats ($200) 3 times a day. Some hotels and high end restaurants accept credit cards.
These two simple phrases, paired with a smile, will get you very far with the locals:
- Min-gala-bar – Hello
- Ta-tar – Goodbye
- Hote-dal – Yes
- Ma-hote-bu – No
- Kyay-zuu-bar – thank you
- Kyay-zuu-amyar-gyi-tin-bar-dal– thank you very much
There are many taxis in Yangon and most can speak a little English and will easily understand you when asking to go to popular sites, markets, hotels, etc. Always negotiate the price before getting into the taxi and take a hotel card with you so that you can give them the information if needed. Ask your guide and/or the hotel staff in advance on the maximum you should expect to pay. If going a short distance, you might want to consider a bicycle trishaw; they are cheaper than the taxi, fun and great way to catch a breeze!
Le Planteur (Kaba Aye Pagoda Rd) This has long been considered one of the best restaurants in town, fusing Myanmar and International cuisine into delectable masterpieces. It is also one of the nicest in town so make sure to dress sharp and prepare for higher prices. Have your guide call and make a reservation and if done far enough in advance then you can book their vintage car for transfers. T: (+95 1)541 997
Monsoon (Thein Byu Rd) A favorite among expatriates, it offers a wide range of SE Asian cuisine in a relaxed, cosmopolitan atmosphere. This is a great spot for lunch or dinner but call ahead to make an rsvn. They also have a fantastic fair-trade shop upstairs selling local artisan handicrafts. T: +95 (1) 295 224
Feel Myanmar Food (Pyidaungsu Yeiktha St.)This Bamar restaurant is popular with local businessmen and foreign embassy staff. You simply go to the counter and point to the dishes you desire to try (usually someone there to help describe it). The dishes come in small plates so it is common to see a table filled with 10 or more. It’s a fun way to try local cuisine and not have to commit to only one! T:+95 (1)725 736
Mandalay Restaurant at Governor’s Residence (Taw Win Rd) – Many travelers claim this to be one of their favorites. The combination of authentic food, superb service & romantic colonial setting create an all around wonderful dining experience. They have western and Myanmar dishes but the Myanmar dinner buffet is a highlight. They also have a lounge/bar perfect for after dinner cocktail. T: +95 (1) 229 860
Alex’s Gastro Bar (Yaw Min Gyi St) This trendy, intimate restaurant is located in the Loft Hotel downtown. French chef, Ludo serves up fusion dishes with a French focus. The price is a little more expensive than other spots, but the quality of food, service and wine selection make it worth it. +95 (1) 37 22 99
Golden Duck Restaurants There is a range delicious choices when it comes to Chinese, but Golden Duck is one of the most beloved. It’s best to come with a group or a big appetite as dishes are served family style, but we urge you to try the famous duck! Ask your guide the best location from your hotel.
NOTE* There are many options in Yangon ranging from Thai to Italian to Indian. Many of the hotels offer really good and reasonable buffets as well. Ask your guide and hotel for further recommendations.
Teashops – Stop practically anywhere & join the locals for a cup of delicious tea or stop into Acacia Tea Salon, located in a restored mansion, for a finger sandwich and one of over 20 imported teas!
Street Food– If you are curious take advantage of an opportunity to try local noodles, snacks and sweets.
Stalls and shops liter the streets offering some of the best food in Yangon.
The Strand (Strand Rd) – This classic colonial wooden bar has all the liquors and cocktails from home with the ambience of a past era. Even though the hotel is known to have pricy rooms, the bar is extremely reasonable and laidback. Make sure to have a chat with a bartender, some which have been there for over 15 years!
50th Street Bar (50th and Strand Rd) – Located near The Strand, 50th Street is one of the most popular bars in Yangon for locals, expats and tourists. It draws a crowd in the evenings, especially on Fridays when a live band is usually playing. It offers a western escape with well made cocktails and familiar foods.
19th Street (Chinatown) – If you are not picky about cocktail choices and love an ice bold beer, then this is the place for you. 19th St. in Chinatown is famous for serving up delicious bbq and ice cold pints of beer.
The Thiripyitsaya Sky Bistro (Bogyoke Aung San Road, Sakura Tower) – This restaurant is located on the top floor of one of the tallest building in Yangon. While the food isn’t great, the view is. We recommend going for a sunset drink and watch as the Shwedagon Pagoda lights up the evening sky.
Union Bar & Grill on the Strand is a new kind of gathering place for all day dining with live music entertainment. Under the direction of London’s AA Rosetted executive Cheft Reuben Gould, the grill offers contemporary British menu with the very best seasonal products of Myanmar.
Inya Day Spa – The spa is located amongst a garden retreat and offers a wide range of top-rated spa treatments and beauty services. Open 7 days a week 10am to 9pm. Call for appointment at +95 (0)1537 79907
Thaya Day Spa – A newly opened spa from the owner’s of Inya Spa offer same quality of services in a contemporary design in the middle of the bustling city. Another option if Inya is fully booked. Call +95 9731 73979 for an appointment.
Htwe Oo Myanmar Puppet Theatre (Yama St.) Support local puppeteers and this dying traditional art form by taking in a show at the intimate theatre of Htwe Oo Myanmar. There are two 45 min shows at 5pm and 6pm daily. Book at least a day in advance. Have your guide assist you to book a show. +95 (1) 211 942
Karaweik Palace (Kandawgyi Park) This restaurant located on the Kandagyi Lake and in a replica of the Royal Barge has cultural performances of traditional dances, puppets and folklore every evening. The performances are scheduled every night of the week, starting at 6 pm. Ticket price ($30/pax) includes the international buffet. You can make a rsvn online http://www.karaweikpalace.com or through your hotel or guide.
Bogyoke (Scott) Market – You can find practically any Myanmar good or handicraft at this market. The largest market in Myanmar holds textiles, gold, silverwares, antiques, art, souvenirs and much more. It’s a shoppers dream! It is open every day except for Monday and National holidays.
Nandawun (Baho & Ahlone Rd) – Rare books on Myanmar, ethnic clothing and lacquer ware
Yo Ya May (2 locations in Scott Market) These family run shops are fantastic for wanting to buy ethnic textiles. They are a socially conscious company, employing ethnic artisan to recreate traditional designs into authentic and modern pieces. They have jewelry, bags, pillowcases, wall hangings, etc.
Gems Market– There is 3 floors of gem stalls. The top floor is a museum with a $3 admission.
Internet is becoming much more available in the city. You should have it available in your hotel 24 hours a day but be warned it can go out often or be slow. If you need an internet café your guide and hotel will be able to recommend one closest to you.
To give you a rough idea of the standard in town, here is a list of tip ranges (although if you receive great service, please feel free to adjust these prices accordingly):
Guides : $5 – $10 total per day /Drivers: $2 – $5 total per day / Boats: $2-$4 per round-trip
Restaurants : 10% for local restaurants; 15–20% for high end European or Western restaurants.