Exchanging cash in Thailand is Easy and Safe

The official currency of Thailand is the Thai BAHT (pronounced - baaht)

One baht is divided into 100 satang.

Coins come in denominations of: 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht, as well as 25 and 50 satang. (You may get some 25 or 50 satang coins in change at a supermarket.)

Banknotes come in denominations of: 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 baht.

The most commonly used coin is the 10 baht and the most commonly used note is the 100 baht. The notes of 20 and 50 baht have changed with a slightly different portrait of the King.

Thai Baht Cash Exchange any Street

Thailand's Baht and a street cash exchange (forex) booth

Cash Exchange Chiang Mai AirportCash Exchange Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) Airport

Chiang Mai Airport and Bangkok Airport Cash Exchange (forex) booths

  • Travellers Cheques are generally accepted only at dedicated foreign exchange shops or banks. 
  • Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are plentiful throughout Thailand, and most will accept cards issued by any of the major international banking networks (Plus, Cirrus, etc.)

Foreign debit and credit card withdrawals from Thai ATMs incur a 150 or 180 baht fee levied by the local ATM owner, in addition to any fees added by your home financial institution.

  • Major credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, JCB and American Express, are readily accepted at most hotels, airlines, restaurants and upscale merchants.
  • To prevent your credit/debit card from being declined, it is important to advise your card issuer of your travel plans in advance.
  • Some institutions routinely block/deny unexpected charges from Thai merchants for fear of possible fraudulent use.

Exchanging cash in Thailand is EASY 

FOREX (FOreign EXchange)  booths are very common and clearly post their daily exchange rates on an electronic notice board.

  • Cash exchanges in Thailand incur NO commissions or fees.
  • Do not buy any Thai currency until you arrive in Thailand.
  • The rates offered in Thailand are ALWAYS BETTER than you could get back home *(for "mainstream" currencies).
  • FOREX booths accept ALL MAJOR currencies.
  • DO remember to bring ONLY bank notes in good overall condition.
  • FOREX booths generally WILL NOT accept bank notes that are torn, ripped, damaged or are excessively marked/stamped

 


Which is best for me?

Cash

  • There are NO fees or charges to bring your home currency, and NO fees or charges to exchange it into baht in Thailand.
  • There are no surcharges or commissions when exchanging cash at the airport.
  • It is the easiest to use, and in most cases the cheapest as well, but has obvious risks associated with loss.
  • Make sure you count your money for clerical errors BEFORE you walk away from the exchange counter.
  • Again, you do not need to buy any Thai baht BEFORE arriving in THAILAND.

At Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, there are exchange booths right in the Customs Hall (after clearing Passport Control, in the baggage claim area) as well as in the general arrivals area. ATMs are also readily available in the airport.

Thai Military Bank (TMB) are largely represented at the Airport. Their advertised rates of exchange are notoriously lower (3-4% less) than ALL others, irrespective of their location (airport, city, country -- they offer the same low rate everywhere).

Unfortunately the only other major airport exchange operator, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), now seems to have pegged its rates at the airport on TMB's rates, even though its rates at non-airport locations remain considerably higher. This means that ALMOST ALL exchange booths at the airport are now offering IDENTICAL rates, LOWER than the norm elsewhere in Thailand.

There seems to be only one exception: Kasikorn Bank's sole outlet on the Airport Rail Link Level (two levels below Arrivals). Since it's officially on ARL property, not in the airport proper, K-Bank's booth is able to offer exchange rates consistent with its rates outside the airport. For major currencies, that could mean 1.20 or more baht per dollar, pound or euro. On trades of 1000 units or more, that could add up to a significant amount.

 

UPDATE

 

From October 2014, TMB no longer operates exchange facilities at Suvanarbhumi International Airport.  The exchange facilities are operated by SCB and K-Bank.

However, it seems that the Exchange Rates at the airport remain a premium rate and common to both providers. 

As a result, the K-Bank branch at the Airport Rail Link level is now closed. 

 

Kasikorn's booth on the ARL level 

 Kasikorn Bank's exchange booth on the ARL level

Kasikorn usually places in the highest tier of exchange rates among the banks, vying with Bangkok Bank. Independents such as Super Rich do offer even higher rates, though.

So unless you use the Kasikorn Bank outlet, you are now advised to exchange just enough for current needs at the airport, and to shop around downtown for better rates if you are making a larger trade.

Most airport currency exchange services operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

(Note: At present, that one and only booth operated by Kasikorn Bank, does NOT operate around the clock (24 hours). Its current operating times are 07:00-23:00 daily, which closely mirrors the hours of the adjacent Airport Rail Link.)


Travelers Cheques

If you prefer the security offered by travellers cheques, then take them in your home currency if available. i.e. If you are from Britain, do not get USD cheques or you will lose money on that exchange before you have even started. In some cases there is a fee to buy travellers cheques.

  • When you exchange travellers cheques in Thailand as of March 1, 2014 there is a 153 baht fee per cheque (up from the previous 33 baht).
  • To minimise this 153 baht fee it is wise to get your cheques in larger denominations (i.e. fewer exchanges).
  • T/Cs actually get a marginally better exchange rate than cash, which will help offset part of the fee.
  • When cashing T/Cs you will be required to present your ID (i.e. Passport).
  • T/Cs provide improved security for you, as they can be replaced if lost/stolen.
  • Only American Express cheques are accepted. Do NOT bring other kinds of cheques such as Thomas Cook.

Rates at FOREX booths/kiosks:
The bank's current buy/sell rates will either be prominently displayed on an electronic display board or by a fax paper attached to the window. These are the banks offical rates in use at that point in time. When rates change-- and they do frequently throughout the day -- the display board and/or fax page will be replaced and updated accordingly.

Rates offered will be the SAME at ALL branches of the SAME bank, when measured at the SAME point in time with the exception of the Siam Commercial Bank outlets at the airport as outlined above.  Rates DO vary between different banks, but NOT within branches of the same bank, with that one exception.  You can use the link below to get a idea of the more competitive banks for your chosen currency. There are no extra surcharges or commissions if you exchange your cash at the airport, though.

Some independent Forex specialists (such as Super Rich) offer more advantageous rates than any of the banks. You must decide if it is worth spending the time and money to get to one of these dealers, in order to gain what may be only a small amount more than at the next bank-owned booth.

THE BEST ONLINE SOURCE FOR UP-TO-THE-MINUTE EXCHANGE RATES IN THAILAND: 

http://daytodaydata.net

To determine the current rate of exchange of your home currency to the Thai baht, you can check this web site which shows the rates offered by all major Thai banks/FOREX specialists.

  • Use the first drop down box to insert your home currency.
  • You can also check ATM rates (option TT), and Travellers Cheque rates (option cheque)
  • These rates are exactly what the banks listed are offering at this moment

 

 


ATM

 

Thai banks charge a 150 or 180 baht fee per withdrawal when you use their ATMs with a foreign card. Previously it was 150 baht for Visa cards and 180 baht for MasterCard cards. Some banks now charge 180 baht for all foreign cards. 

  • Your home bank may also levy a fee.
  • Using ATMs is a safer option than cash and more convenient than T/Cs.
  • This may be the way to go if your home bank does not charge high fees.
  • ATMs are plentiful and located just about everywhere.
  • Most Thai ATM machines will deliver a maximum of 20 banknotes per withdrawal, so the effective limit of an ATM withdrawal is 20,000 baht.
  • NOTE that many ATMs may offer to automatically convert the charge to your home currency. Refuse this option. This is Dynamic Currency Conversion and the exchange rate will be considerably lower (on the order of 5-7%) than the rate normally applied by your home bank. So if an ATM asks "Convert to [your home currency]?" just choose "no." See more about Dynamic Currency Conversion below.

ATMs in Thailand

As of February 2014, AEON is also charging the 150 baht fee.

*Prepaid Cash Cards - Like debit cards, may also be subject to fees by issuer as well as the Thai bank.

Remember, you DO NOT need any Thai baht before your arrival in the Kingdom. To get baht ahead of time will subject you to a considerably poorer rate of exchange plus probable commission fees.

 


Exchanging Cash or T/Cs at the HOTEL

  • While Hotels DO offer cash and T/C exchange facilities, the rate offered is usually VERY POOR compared to that offered by Banks/Forex booths.

Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)

  • When paying by Credit Card (hotels restaurants shops etc), insist on being billed in Thai baht.
  • Being billed in your home currency, (a practice which has become more prevalent recently) involves both a hidden surcharge and bad exchange rates and can add 5% to the net cost in some cases.
  • The best advice is to insist on paying the local currency amount.
  • If you are charged in your home currency, someone is going to make a profit on the deal, and it won't be you.
  • If DCC is offered at an ATM machine, refuse, allowing the exchange rate to be set by your home bank at international market rates.

BE RESPECTFUL WHEN HANDLING THAI CURRENCY!

All currency in Thailand, paper and coin, bears a portrait of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej or a deceased relative.

Remember that Thailand has harsh lèse majesté laws which are strictly enforced. These laws expressly prohibit any act - verbal, physical or written, that shows insolent or disrespectful behaviour toward the royal family.

With this in mind;

  • DO NOT EVER step on a coin to stop it from rolling away.
  • DO NOT step on a Thai banknote to stop it from blowing away.
  • DO NOT throw a note or coin in anger towards another person. 
  • DO NOT tear, burn or otherwise deface a note or coin.

These acts can easily been perceived as disrespectful toward His Majesty The King, or another member of the royal family (and may be considered highly offensive to any Thai person who witnessed such an occurrence).

Please show respect accordingly.