Handling Money in Thailand: An Insider’s Guide

Thailand is home to gorgeous beaches, lively cities, incredible food, and welcoming people. However, managing your money here can be confusing and expensive if you don’t know the insider tips.

As avid travelers to Thailand, we want to share our hard-earned wisdom on the cheapest and easiest ways to access cash, pay for things, and avoid ridiculous fees. Follow our advice below to keep more baht in your pocket.

Bring Cash from Home for the Best Exchange Rates

The number one rule is do not exchange most of your money at the airport. Their rates are usually terrible. Instead, bring cash in your home currency to exchange once in Thailand. You will typically get a better rate than exchanging money beforehand in your home country.

Here are the best places to exchange money once in Thailand:

  • Currency exchange offices – These shops with big signs are on practically every street. Rates here are better than at airports, hotels, and sometimes even banks.
  • Banks – Major bank branches will exchange your money at a decent rate. But currency exchanges may still be slightly better.

💡 Pro tip: Avoid exchanging money at your hotel’s front desk as they normally have the worst rates.

To check the latest exchange rates, use sites like FCexchange.

Withdrawing Baht from ATMs: The Hidden Fees

We always cringe a little when we have to get baht out of an ATM. That’s because there’s often a 200 baht fee (~$6 USD) per transaction. On top of that, your home bank may charge an international withdrawal fee.

So every ATM trip can easily cost $10-15 once the dust settles. Do that a few times per week and it really adds up!

💸 The fees to withdraw cash in Thailand can waste half a day’s travel budget if you’re not careful.

Here are ways to avoid wasted money at ATMs:

  • Shop around – Some bank ATMs may charge slightly less than the usual 200 baht. But don’t expect miracles.
  • Withdraw larger amounts less often – Take out enough cash to last a week if possible, to minimize fees.
  • Pay with card when possible – Most hotels, tours, shopping malls and modern restaurants accept credit/debit cards. This is a great credit card for Thailand https://www.urlaubinbangkok.de/deutschland-kreditkarte-erfahrungen/

However, there is one reliable way to get Thai baht without ATM fees…

atm in thailand

How to Withdraw Cash for Free

Walk into any major Thai bank, approach the counter, and ask for a “cash advance” on your credit card. You’ll need:

  • Passport
  • Credit card

⚠️ Note: Some banks may only accept cards with your full name printed on them.

The clerk will take your:

  • Passport details
  • Signatures
  • Photocopy of the card

Then take the paperwork to the cashier to collect your crisp baht notes!

We’ve used this cash advance technique successfully at dozens of banks across Thailand. There is no fee, unlike ATMs charging 200 baht. Your home bank may still levy a small, separate cash advance fee. But overall it saves a good chunk of change.

We keep praying they don’t wise up to this loophole!

More Clever Hacks for Saving Money

Beyond where to get baht, here are extra pro tips to keep Thailand from draining your wallet:

  • Avoid having too much cash – Only carry what you need for the day to avoid loss or theft. Split remaining cash between travel partners.
  • Lock in exchange rates on big purchases – When booking hotels, tours or transportation online, pay with your foreign credit card set to charge in Thai baht. You’ll usually get a better conversion rate than using cash later.
  • Use ride sharing apps – Grab and Bolt offer cashless transport across Thailand. Pay by card within the app.
  • Consider a fee-less travel card – Cards like Revolut allow a certain amount of international ATM withdrawals per month without fees.

And if eating street food in markets, taking tuk tuks or songtaews (shared taxis), having small bills for tips is smart.

We hope these insider tricks help you save precious baht during your Thai adventure! Please share any of your own tips in the comments. Safe travels!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you book trains, buses and tours before arriving in Thailand?

Yes, you absolutely can. Sites like 12GoAsia allow you to reserve transportation online and pay by card ahead of time. This locks in seats and prices, avoiding potential disappointment or hassle once in Thailand.

You can also book tours in advance through major sites like GetYourGuide. Paying online ahead guarantees your spot and is safer than arranging activities locally.

Will my credit card work for payments in Thailand?

Your card will be accepted at most hotels, airports, high-end restaurants, modern cafes, convenience stores like 7-Eleven, and some shops. Anywhere touristy will normally take cards. But street stalls, markets, and small local shops often still require cash.

Is theft something I need to worry about in Thailand?

Thailand is generally very safe, including for solo female travelers. However it’s smart to take precautions, especially if partying in Bangkok or bar streets popular with tourists.

Subtle anti-theft bags with hidden compartments, wire straps and anchors to fixtures are smart. These anti-theft cross body bags offer an extra level of security. A slim hidden passport pouch under your clothes can also provide peace of mind.