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Banking in Thailand

The official Currency of Thailand is Thai Baht; it comes in coins and banknotes of different denominations. Travelers are advised to carry cash everywhere, both in smaller and larger denominations for quick transaction.

The best way to get Thai Baht at the most prosperous rate is to bring some cash in your home currency and exchange at the forex booth on arrival, as the rates are better in Thailand. Since all airport exchange office rates will always be lower than anywhere outside, do not change all of your cash at the airport.

Quick Facts

  • The official currency is Thai Baht.
  • The current exchange rate from Thai Baht to US Dollar is about 31.37:1.
  • There are heaps of foreign exchange booths at the airport arrival halls, and the rates are better than at home.
  • Banknotes come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 Baht.
  • Coins come in denominations of 25 and 50 Satang (1 Baht is divided into 100 Satang) and 1, 5 and 10 Baht.
  • Banks offer the best exchange rates, and the rates differ little between them.

Local Currency

Thai Baht is the only currency accepted in Thailand, although some jewelry or tailor shops still quote prices in US Dollars or Euros. So if you are planning to buy anything, you must change your currency into Thai Baht.

It is very important for everyone to respect their currency. The currency in Thailand, both paper and coin, bears a portrait of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej or a deceased relative.

Do not step on a coin to stop it from rolling away or step on a Thai banknote to stop it from blowing away. These acts can easily be perceived as disrespectful towards the King and may be considered offensive by any Thai person.

Changing Money

Exchanging cash in Thailand is relatively easy; most airport currency exchange services operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is recommended not to buy any Thai Baht before arriving in Thailand as the rates offered in Thailand are always better than you could get back home.

Cash exchanges in Thailand incur no commissions or fees. However, you should avoid changing cash at hotels, hostels or guesthouses because you will get a bad rate. To avoid losing money to fraud or error, be sure to count your money before you leave the exchange counter.

Rates do vary between banks, but not within branches of the same bank. Some independent Forex specialists offer more advantageous rates than any of the banks, but it is recommended to check the rates on the electronic display board or on the fax paper attached to the window before doing any transaction.

ATM Services

ATMs are easy to find in major cities and towns. If you are going into rural areas and to some lesser-known islands, it is recommended to withdraw money beforehand. Most ATMs in Thailand work with Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus, and Maestro.

The fees for using ATMs in Thailand are high; most banks charge 200 Baht for withdrawals with a foreign bank card. There is an exception: AEON bank charges only 150 Baht per transaction. Please keep in mind that your home bank will also charge fees; expect to be charged a withdrawal fee and a foreign currency fee per transaction.

Banks and Banking Hours

Below are contact addresses for the five best-known banks in Thailand. These banks can cash traveler’s checks as well as exchange other currencies. Banking hours are generally 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, Monday to Friday.

Some banks have branches in department stores or set booths along the main street, which are open 10 am to 6 pm.

Aeon Bank, #78 Chaengwattana Rd., Kwaeng Anusaowaree, Khet Bangkhen, Bangkok 10220 – Tel 02-665-0123, e-mail at csd@aeon.co.th

Bank of Ayudhya (Krungsri), #L5,511, Centralplaza Grand Rama 9, Ratchadaphisek Rd, Khwaeng Huai Khwang, Din Daeng, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400, Thailand – Tel +66 1572

Bangkok Bank, #288/79 Moo 9 Chayangkun Road, Bung  Muang District Amnat Charoen 37000, Thailand – Tel 0-4551-1850

Krungthai Bank, #5, Sukhumvit Road, Khlong Toei Nua, Khet Wattana, Bangkok, 10110, Khwaeng Khlong Toei Nuea, Khet Watthana, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110, Thailand – Tel +66 2 111 1111

Siam Commercial Bank, #1 Ratchawithi Rd, Khwaeng Thanon Phaya Thai, Khet Ratchathewi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400, Thailand – Tel +66 2 246 8482

Credit Cards and Traveler’s Checks

Traveler’s checks are pretty commonly used in Thailand; so most banks and hotels are able to cash them. However, if you are planning to use traveler’s checks, please keep these things in mind: There is a 153 baht fee per cheque, and also you are required to present a valid ID (i.e. Passport).

Credit cards can be used for over the counter purchases and ATM withdrawals in Thailand. Credit cards are accepted at most standard hotels, at medium to large restaurants, and at department stores and retailers. It is hard to find retailers that accept American Express, so plan on bringing a variety of cards just in case.

For your trips outside the big cities, you will need to take cash for all of your expenses, including lodging, restaurants and markets. It is recommended to inform the credit card company before leaving your country, to avoid any issues that may occur while travelling in Thailand.

Local Prices

Thailand is one of the most affordable countries to visit, with a wide array of hotels and restaurants. 3- to 5-star hotels in Thailand cost between US$ 70 and US$ 300 a night, depending on the location and services provided.

A basic meal can be found at street carts and from simple restaurants, ranging from US$ 5, while a more comfortable restaurant will cost from US$ 15 per meal. Food portions are often smaller in Thailand than you may be used to.

The best way to travel around Thailand is by guided tour. Tours usually include hotel pick-up by private car/van (with a driver), and you will be accompanied by a guide who is familiar with the location and can help you to get around easily.

Safety

Thailand is one of the safest destinations in south-east Asia. Petty theft does happen, but violent crime against foreigners is rare. Most Thai are extremely polite and a little shy of foreigners. It is always a good idea to split the cash - some in the wallet, some in the bag, some elsewhere.

Keep small bills handy, this way you won’t pull out the bigger denominations while attempting to buy something cheap. Hide away larger bills in an under-clothing money pouch, or tuck them into a secure part of your wallet or bag. Do not attempt to put all your money and cards in the same place.

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