Changing money (US dollars) has become easier in Myanmar with the recent political changes and the growing receptiveness to tourism. (see current Myanmar kyat to dollar exchange rate) Money can be exchanged at the Yangon International Airport and Mandalay International Airport for a fair rate and with no commissions (this wasn’t really the case back in 2010). In Yangon airport, the booth is to the far right when you are looking at the exit to the taxis after you exit immigration. Get in line, hand them your money and passport. They will fill in some paperwork and send you to the next line to wait. (Unnerving, right? Thanks for the money and passport. Next!) No big deal. They process the exchange while you wait in that line and you then get your cash counted in front of you and a receipt.
There are no coins in Myanmar other than antique currency. Expect 10,000-, 5,000-, 1,000-, 500-, and 200-kyat bills. You may come across rare 50 pya, 1-, and 5-kyat bills, but they have no real value other than perhaps a nice souvenir. There are two different sizes of 200-, 500-, and 1000-kyat bills – both are OK.
ATMs arrived in Myanmar in late 2011 thanks to CB Bank, but initially only for withdrawing kyat from local kyat accounts. Now some of them also accept international VISA and MasterCard as well as the affiliated debit cards, in the PLUS or Cirrus systems, for example. However, not all of them will work for international cards, so do not depend on credit cards for all the cash during your trip. There are ATMs in both the Yangon and Mandalay International Airports. Travelers from the UK and Canada have been successful with this. I am still waiting for reports from Americans who may or may not be affected by US governmental rules. (PayPal, for example, is not reachable from within Myanmar due to their compliance with US embargo rules – even if a VPN may work for you, you will likely have your account locked and a whole headache of procedures to open it again). There are other ATMs throughout the city but they may be hit or miss. The Strand Hotel and Park Royal Hotel, KBZ Bank, Inya Lake Hotel, and CB Bank have ATMs for sure.
WARNING: Be sure to notify your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling and using your card in Myanmar. (Good advice before any trip, really.) Use there will likely trigger a fraud alert and lock up your account.
When leaving the Yangon airport, I found that there was no Currency Exchange in the international departure area (as of 2/15/2013). One was under construction, however, so by about March 2013 there should be one once you are past immigration and into the boarding/gate area. However, if you are there early in the morning and the currency exchange is still closed, try any of the souvenir vendors there. I had to do this and I got a very reasonable rate from a trinket seller who had a nice wad of American dollars to make change for me. I lost about 60 cents off of $50 worth of kyat – still less than a common commission in other countries.
The previous practice of using black market currency exchanges (they will approach you on the street muttering “change money” like a conversation with an informant) is really no longer worth it and offers risks. But you will still see the occasional local leaving a market area with a plastic grocery bag full of bricks of kyat.