Money in Thailand

Old Aug 1st, 2007, 08:38 PM
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Rho
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Money in Thailand

Any suggestions on how much cash (baht) to safely possess and carry in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket? Should we bring some THB with us, or change it off the plane--where are the best exchange rates? We know we'll obviously need cash for taxis, food, admission fees, street shops, etc. but we want to play it safe and not overdo/underdo it. How easy is it to use an ATM, and is it generally recommended? Or is it wise to keep a stash of THB in the hotel safe (staying at Marriott's on points in Bangkok and Phuket, Baan Orapin in Chiang Mai). I understand there is no safe in the rooms at Baan Orapin.

Also, do most shopping malls take Visa or MC?

Thanks!
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Old Aug 1st, 2007, 09:26 PM
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i take no B with me....i usually withdraw about $300 in B as needed...i just watch my wallet is tight places like the skytrain and markets--front pocket or hand on it...

i have never seen any problems...

atms are easy to use---in english and thai....many located at the airport....i use the bright yellow ones as they have no fee---ayuttia bank (spelled incorrectly)...its not a problem...

taxis will not even have change for a 100B note so carry small notes...20's and 50's
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Old Aug 1st, 2007, 09:33 PM
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Most shopping malls (especially the more expensive ones) do take credit cards, but there's more shopping to do outside of shopping malls than in, so you definitely need cash in your pocket.

Regarding money changing in Thailand, there are money changing booths all over and the rates vary between them. If you are in one place for more than a day or two, just check out the advertised prices at the ones you pass to find the best price. Also, big bills ($50,$100) get a better price than smaller bills.

Change as little as possible at the airport as that's the most expensive place to do it.

There are also plenty of easy to use ATM's, but they are more expensive than changing on the street because of the 2% surcharge charged by most credit card companies today.

As to where to keep your "stash" that's up to you. We brought lots of dollars and that was our stash - changed 50 or a 100 whenever we needed it.

For more info about our trip to Thailand, check out my web page about the trip. Here's the URL:

http://www.travel.stv77.com/thailand/thailand.htm
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Old Aug 1st, 2007, 09:43 PM
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We've heard so much about the sneaky cab drivers not carrying change. Thanks for the tips on some nearby ATM's to our hotel. It'll definitely be handy.

Is pick-pocketing or mugging a common occurence like it is in some parts of Europe? I'm considering just keeping cash in zipped pant pockets and not carrying a handbag around just to make things easier.

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Old Aug 1st, 2007, 10:02 PM
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sssteve-nice information and trip report! Looks like you had a wonderful time in Thailand and got to experience quite a bit. Our itinerary is exactly the same, and we'll be going at the same time of year. I will be bookmarking your site for the resources you've listed at the bottom, that was brilliant! I've been searching for a driver for our stay in Phuket so we'll definitely be calling Chai.

As far as exchange rates go, do hotels charge a reasonable fee? I'll be calling up my bank to request any Thai money we can get before we board the plane, thanks for the heads-up on that too.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 05:43 AM
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In the last 4-5 years pick-pocketing has become serious in Bangkok as well as other forms of theft and not just in crowds. I have never heard of mugging there, yet.

Money belts are handy but I usually put an empty drink can (330 cc) in my pocket which makes it I think impossible to steal my money there.

You should pay no commission on exchanging money in Bangkok and shop around for better rates.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 05:56 AM
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we don't consider pick pocketing a problem in bkk but it is like any big city....beware....

i just would not carry tons of $$ with you.....keep it in the safe in your room and only take with you enough for the day while out and about...

hotel exchange: if the street rate is 33 B per us $, the rate at the hotel might be 31.5 per dollar...just a guess but it can add up...

there is something to be said for the security of changing money in your hotel...

i still prefer an atm for the best exchange rate and for privacy...

btw, make sure to notify your credit card companies that you will be travelling overseas to avoid any problems....often they will shut off cards when they see strange activity...
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 05:56 AM
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my wife never carries a purse..
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 06:48 AM
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And make sure you tell the bank that carries your ATM card where you will be. I always use ATMs to get cash. But I have a card that has no charge for the use of a foreign ATM nor does it charge a premium on foreign exchange. So I can get the best exchange rate from an ATM. I also carry a few US $100 bills "just in case" and exchange them if needed at an exchange window. By the way, I have found the exchange windows at teh airport to be comperable in exchange rates to ones elsewhere.

Do your research - check with your bank on what they charge to use a foreign ATM (some charge nothing, other charge up to $5). Also ask what percentage they add for foreign exchange. This ranges from 0% to 3%.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 06:50 AM
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Oh, and Bob's right, getting baht before you go insures you'll get the worst exchange rate possible! I always use an ATM in the airport. If the line is too long, I just exchange one of my $100 bills at one of the exchange windows.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 03:09 PM
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And make sure you are carrying the newer style $100 bills (with the bigger picture in the center). I have had problems trying to exchange the older style. I always watch when the bank teller is counting out my cash for my Thailand trip, and any "old" bills get pulled out right away and switched for "new" ones.

I have not exchanged US dollars at my hotels. The rate is just not that great, IMO. There are lots and lots of currency exchanges in Bangkok. Just shop around to find the one you consider to be reasonable.

I've not used ATM's in Bangkok but I have used them a lot in Europe. ATM's are really handy.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 03:37 PM
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The first time we went to Thailand I thought everyone there was out to pick my pocket, so here I was walking off the plane and trying to get this stupid money belt around my waist!!! I looked like a total dork! I guess I thought they would be waiting for us as soon as we stepped off! But, we live in the middle of nowhere and had NEVER been to a large city before! Now, I still use the money belt, and put some cash in the hotel safe.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 05:42 PM
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Adding a question to this post, I am flying in to Bangkok and leaving the next am for Cambodia, where I understant there are no ATM's. Do they accept Thai currency or USD in Cambodia? I will need money for a few dinners and some souveniers while there. What is a reasonable amount of WAM (walking-around money) per day in Cambodia and should I bring THB or USD?
Thanks.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 05:50 PM
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There are ATMs in Siem Reap. They dispense US dollars. There are also banks and exchange booths should you have other currency. Thai baht doesn't generally get as favorable a rate. We are carrying in US dollars in cash and we have some travelers checks as well. Our Japanese bank accounts are not forgiving in terms of fees, so we do not use ATMs.

You can spend as little as $1.00 on a meal, or as much as $28.00 for the set Khmer tasting menu at Meric in the Hotel de la Paix...or even more I'm sure. Beer is cheap, wine is not.

Our Japanese guidebook lists a lot of shops with photos, and they look to have great stuff. We've budgeted $75.00/day for meals and purchases for 3 of us...we aren't big shoppers though.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 06:46 PM
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US dollars are the de facto currency in Cambodia. Riels are used in Siem Reap only for very small purchases. You may get some riel in change. Takes lots of $1 and $5 bills with you. Do make sure you spend or donate any riels you get before you leave Cambodia as they are worthless elsewhere. There are now ATMs in SIem Reap that take international ATM cards and dispense US dollars, but not in the small denominations you'll need for most things.

I don't recommend using Thai baht in Cambodia. Some vendors will take them, but as Kim says, the exchange rate is not good.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 07:59 PM
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Thanks, I'm just going to bring some USD with me from home since I'm going to Cambodia 24 hours of arriving in Bangkok.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 08:31 PM
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Kathie, I think you're right about my ATM not charging a fee out of the country. That's wonderful advice, and I'm going to verify that with my bank before we go. The last thing I want to have to do is shop around for the best exchange rate. Even though we're talking mere dollars, those dollars could add up and are better spent on other things in Bangkok! The less thought we have to put into our trip while we are there, the better!

Thanks for all the great pointers.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2007, 08:55 PM
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Rho, even more important is to ask your bank what premium they charge on foreign exchange. In the last two or three years it has become common for banks to add 2 or 3% for foreign exchange when you withdraw money in a foreign country, much as the credit card companies have done for years.
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Old Sep 17th, 2007, 11:50 AM
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Help Fodorites. Awhile back there was a web page for a pocket sized currency conversion sheet. I looke at it but did not put in my favorites-can someone pleas sent it-Thank you Thank you Chris
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Old Sep 17th, 2007, 04:24 PM
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www.anda.com/convert/cheatsheet
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