22 may 2018

A complete guide to Thailand currency, ATMs, exchange rates and more

Find out how to exchange your US currency in Thailand, what baht per dollar ratio is, how to find Thailand currency in your home country. Discover how to exchange your dollars to bahts and get the best rate.

While planning a trip, it is important to have all the info you might need, especially when it comes to money. The currency of Thailand is called “baht”.

First of all, there is no need to look for bahts in your home country and bring them with you, because almost always travelers find a better exchange rate after they get to Thailand. Don’t worry about finding a Thailand currency exchange place, you will see multiple of them at the airport, or even in the customs section, so you can get some local currency for at least taxi and some food. There are plenty forex shops outside the airport as well. 

A good question to think about is what currency you should bring, because practise shows that people turn out to pay more doing “double exchange”: exchanging their home currency into US dollars or euro and then exchange for the second time into currency used in Thailand - USD to baht, EUR to baht. Basically, what happens is you pay for the difference between the bank`s buy/sell rate, which may vary from 1% to 5% from time to time.  

Exchange rates are set by all major Thailand banks, which control most exchange shops. This means that shops of the same bank will have the same rates, although rates between competing banks may a little vary, but not considerable.

There are some rules for tourists that are strongly recommended to follow. Since Thailand have enforced “lèse majesté” laws, it is prohibited to show any disrespect to the Thai Royal family. You may notice, that all Thai coins and paper currency has a portrait of a member of Royal family, or a close associate. It means that things like stepping on a coin to stop it from rolling away can be perceived as disrespectful, so keep it in mind. 

You can also bring your debit/credit cards, because carrying a whole lot of Thailand's currency is not practical or safe, moreover, in case of emergency you might need some extra money as soon as possible. 

Don`t forget to figure out all limits or/and charges that may take place for using ATM cards with no chips, cards of small local banks, etc. Some cards may have smaller fees than others for operations abroad, so choose wisely when travelling and don’t forget check in with your bank. And, of course, let your bank know that you will be leaving the country if you don’t want your card to be frozen for security purposes.

Bahts come in banknotes of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 baht. Another thing to keep in mind is that many Thailand ATM machines have a limit of giving out around 20,000 bahts daily, meaning no more than 20 banknotes, and a fee of 150-200 (depending on bank) bahts for every foreign card withdrawal. So, if you want to cash out your limit of 20,000, but also have some pocket money, for a taxi as an example, you won't be able to do a 19,750 withdrawal - it will be 21 banknote in total.

Thai ATMs work with multiple payment systems, such as: Cirrus, Maestro, MasterCard and Visa (Plus) cards. You can check each ATM machine for a list of supported systems that should appear on the side.

Some ATM services may give you an option of charging the card in your home currency, in hope that a tourist will choose numbers they are used to, but experience shows that by declining such an option you will pay a lower fee, even if it is in Thai bahts equivalent - so hit “no”. Now that you know what currency is used in Thailand, pack your bags and wait until you get to Bangkok or Phuket to exchange your dollars to Thailand currency - baht.