Thailand - Money

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Thai Currency

Thai Baht coins There are 100 satang in 1 Baht; coins include 25 satang and 50 satang pieces and Baht in 1, 5 and 10 Baht coins. Older coins exhibit Thai numerals only, while newer coins have Thai and Roman numerals. At this writing, 1 Baht coins come in three sizes: only the middle size works in public pay phones! Likewise, 5 Baht coins also come in three sizes, a large one with a Thai numeral only and two smaller coins that have Thai and Roman numerals (one of the smaller 5 Baht coins has nine inset edges along the circumference). Eventually Thailand will be phasing out the older coins, but in the meantime it's confusing when trying to count out change.

Paper currency comes in denominations of 10 Baht (brown) (rarely seen), 20 Baht (green), 50 Baht (blue), 100 Baht (red), 500 Baht (purple) and 1000 Baht (brown) denominations. Fortunately for newcomers to Thailand, numerals are printed in their western as well as Thai forms. Notes are also scaled according to the amount, the larger the denomination the larger the note. Large denominations like 500 Baht and 1000 Baht bills can be hard to change in small towns, but banks will always change them.

20 Baht Thai Banknote (front)20 Baht Thai Banknote (rear)
New 20 Baht Thai Banknote (front)New 20 Baht Thai Banknote (rear)
50 Baht Thai Banknote (front)50 Baht Thai Banknote (rear)
100 Baht Thai Banknote (front)100 Baht Thai Banknote (rear)
500 Baht Thai Banknote (front)500 Baht Thai Banknote (rear)
1000 Baht Thai Banknote (front)1000 Baht Thai Banknote (rear)

Twenty-five satang equals one 'saleng' in colloquial Thai, so if you're quoted a price of six saleng in the market, say, for a small bunch of bananas or a bag of peanuts, this means 1½ Baht.

Changing Money

There is no black market money exchange for Baht, so there is no reason to bring in any Thai currency. Banks or legal moneychangers offer the best exchange rate within the country. The Baht is firmly attached to the American dollar and is as stable.

Exchange rates are given in the Bangkok Post everyday. For buying Baht, US dollars are the most readily acceptable currency and travellers' cheques get better rates than cash. Since banks charge 8 Baht commission and duty for each travellers cheque cashed, you will save on commissions if you use larger cheque denominations (a US$50 cheque will only cost 8 Baht while five US$10 cheques will cost 40 Baht). Note that you can't exchange Indonesian rupiah or Nepalese rupees into Thai currency. Bangkok is a good place to buy Indian and Nepalese rupees, however, as well as Burmese kyat, if you're going to any of these countries. Rates are comparable with black market rates in each of these countries.

Visa credit card holders can get cash advances of up to US$200 per day through some branches of the Thai Farmers Bank and some Thai Commercial Banks (and also at the night-time exchange windows in tourist-spots like Banglamphu, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui). If you try to use a Visa card (very common in the south, even at the smaller hotels) at upcountry hotels, the staff may try to tell you that only Visa cards issued by the Thai Fanners Bank are acceptable. With a little patience, you should be able to make them understand that the Thai Farmers Bank will pay the hotel and that your bank will pay the Thai Farmers Bank - that any Visa card issued anywhere in the world is indeed acceptable.

American Express cardholders can also get advances, but only in travellers' cheques. The Amex agent is SEA Tours, Suite 414, Siam Center, 965 Rama I Road, Bangkok. Many shops and hotels that take Visa also accept MasterCard. A few hotels will charge an extra 3% for using credit cards.

Travellers can rent safety deposit boxes at the Safety Deposit Centre, 3rd floor, Chan Issara Tower, 942/8 1 Rama IV Road (near the Silom Road intersection), Bangkok, for 150 Baht a month plus 2,000 Baht refundable key deposit. Open from 10 am to 7 pm, Monday to Friday, 10 am to 6 pm Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. A few banks will rent safety deposit boxes as well, but generally you need to open an account with them first.

Exchange Control

Legally any traveller arriving in Thailand must have at least the following amounts of money in cash, travellers' cheques, bank draft, or letter of credit, according to visa category

This may be checked if you arrive on a one-way ticket or if you look as if you're at 'the end of the road'.

There are also limits on the maximum amounts of Thai currency you may bring in or take out of the country without special authorization. No more than 2000 Baht per person or 4000 Baht per family is to be brought into the country and no more than 500 Baht per person or 1000 Baht per family is to be taken out.

Although there are no limits on the amount of foreign (non-Thai) currency that can be brought into the country, anything over US$10,000 or its equivalent in another currency must be declared to Customs on arrival in Thailand. A failure to declare the excess can result in confiscation.

It's legal to open a foreign currency account at any commercial bank in Thailand. As long as the funds originate from abroad, there are no restrictions on maintenance or withdrawal of the funds.

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