How Best to Manage your Money in Thailand

Ah, Thailand, the ‘Land of Smiles’, the accessible starter destination for the first time traveller and gap year student, the home of the Full Moon Party and the owner of (for our money anyway) the most stunning beaches on the continent and, although easier to navigate than its South East Asian neighbours, a bit of a financial maze.

Despite having a reputation for being pretty affordable (unless you’re heading to the tourist-heavy beaches of the South where it all gets a bit out of control) there are still a lot of ways to help manage your money out there. So, with that in mind, we’ve put together this handy little guide to help you get more bangs for your baht. 

Currency in Thailand Baht (THB)
Budget Accommodation £4-8 per night for hostel/guesthouse room
Domestic beer £1.83
Budget meal  £1.83
Bottle of water £0.26

* Prices based on Bangkok

Thailand Money

Baht Banknote Denominations: 20, 50, 100, 500, 1000.

Baht Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10.

Cash or Card?

Thailand is still very much a cash economy. We found that 72% of transactions were cash withdrawals. Most of your day to day spending will be with cash if you are on a budget to mid-range trip. Thailand is a popular destination for honeymoons and luxury holidays so you will find the chain hotels, and high-end restaurants and shops will take credit and debit card.

If you have no have cash in hand, do not worry! Thai Baht is one the 33 currencies supported by WeSwap, allowing you to spend as you go.

ATMs & Banks

Cash machines are everywhere in Thailand, with even small towns tending to have at least one hole-in-the-wall accepting all major debit and credit cards. Be warned, however, that the majority of Thai ATMs charge will charge 200b (almost a fiver) for the service. AEON machines, found in big supermarkets and major shopping malls are the exception to this, pocketing 150b. It may not seem like a lot, but over a long trip, those savings will make all the difference. Check with your bank and compare providers because they will likely also take a fee. Choose a card with low conversion fees and that does not charge you to withdraw. With WeSwap you could save £7 per £200 withdrawal.

Here’s a list for you of the main manufacturer of Thai banks and where to locate their ATMs:

Top Tips

  1. To avoid spending a fortune on ATM fees, get out bigger sums at once. Then immediately put that excess cash somewhere safe. If your hostel has lockers or the hotel room has a safe, get it in there. It might be overegged sometimes but pickpocketing is pretty rife and street muggings do occasionally occur (although violent crime against tourists is very, very rare).
  1. A lot of the ATMs will offer to convert the charge into your national currency. To quote the 1980s cast of Grange Hill, “just say no”. Doing this will lower the exchange rate by around 5-7% and cost you even more. This is, if we’re honest, a great rule anywhere in the world. Take this Quiz and you will be a pro at avoiding this charge.
  1. Avoid the urge to stock up on Baht before arriving, the exchange rate outside of the Kingdom is much, much worse. Withdraw cash at the airport once you arrive to start the trip on a financially strong footing.
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