Thai monetary unit is the Baht which consists of 100 satang. Thai coins
are valued at 25 satang, 50 satang, 1 baht, 5 baht and 10 baht. Thai bank
notes are valued to the amounts of 10 baht, 20 baht, 50 baht, 100 baht,
500 baht, and 1,000 baht. There
are no restrictions on the import of local and foreign currency, but it
should be declared. Export of local currency is restricted to Bt50,000
(At left, from top to bottom are the 20-baht, 50-baht, 100-baht, and 1,000
baht notes. There is also a purpled colored 500 baht note.)
is important to know that the Thai currency was officially released from
its peg to the US dollar on July 2nd, 1997 and, as such, the currency's
value fluctuates daily as do most all currencies. Note that this is in
contrast to the Hong Kong dollar which is pegged to the dollar and rarely
fluctuates. Pre-July 2nd, the US dollar/Thai baht ratio was around 1:25.
From there the value of the baht plummeted to 1:55 where you could get
55 baht for one dollar. After a bit of moving around, it's been relatively
stable at a range between 38-42 for the last few years. Still, this is
a 10% fluctuation and can be significant for large purchases - e.g., airplane
tickets. If you're going onward from Bangkok within country (Phuket, Samui,
Chiang Mai, etc.), you'll save quite a bit purchasing it in Thailand than
in your home country.
You can change money in Bangkok at the following places, with varying
levels of rates and commissions. Keep in mind that the exchange rate for
traveler's checks is almost always better than that for cash.
Airport: Rates are a bit higher here, so change only what you need
to get into the city as you'll get a better rate at a bank.
Bank: The best rates are at the banks, but some are better than
others. Often, it depends on how much you are changing as some charge
commissions (with less favorable rates) and others don't, but may have
an attractive exchange rate. Shop and compare, as with everything in Bangkok.
Hotel: The rates at hotels are not as good as at the banks - often
exorbitant, but they do have better hours.
ATM: That's right, at an Automated Teller Machine. There are ATM's
all over Bangkok willing to spit cash at you for your credit card information
and their exchange rates are better than the banks. What you have
to watch out for is the commission your credit card company charges you.
This can be a great way to get foreign currency anywhere if the amount
is large enough to make the charges economical. It's also a great way
for your credit card company to make a few extra dollars. It is a good
idea to know before you go what your credit card company charges you for
this service as to ensure whether the convenience is worth it.
Independent Money Changers: You have to know where these are -
yes, they're perfectly legal, and almost always Chinese - but they have
the absolute best rates but, really, not by THAT much. Don't go out of
your way unless you're exchanging a large amount.
All major credit cards are accepted widely in Bangkok. Some smaller merchants
may offer a "discount" for cash, meaning they've already incorporated
the fee they'd have to pay the credit card company into their selling
price. If you are bargaining with someone, make sure they (and you) know
whether you are paying with a credit card or with cash.
You will get the best exchange rates by exchanging traveler's checks at
a bank, with less commission for a larger denomination. If you are changing
AMEX traveler's checks at an AMEX office, there is no commission. The
AMEX agent's office in Bangkok is SEA Tours located a bit north of the
Asia Hotel just off our Siam Square/World Trade Center map at:
8th floor, Suite 88-92
128 Thanon Phayathai
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