Thailand’s vibrant capital is one of the world’s most visited holiday destinations.
Over 15 million international tourists flock to Bangkok every year to see the city’s beautiful temples, sample the great local food and take part in its colourful nightlife.
In fact, figures show that Bangkok’s spending figures were recently some of the fastest growing in the world, with consumers taking the total to over $12 billion.
Bangkok, known locally as the ‘City of Angels’, looks likely to remain a must-visit destination for many years to come. It boasts a growing fine dining scene and quirky night markets selling fresh, local produce. It also has a great live music and bar scene.
The city is also famous for having some of the friendliest locals you could possibly meet - another reason the city draws visitors back year after year.
But whether you want to take in the city’s stunning architecture and contemporary arts scene, or you’re a party animal seeking the city’s wildest thrills, getting the best exchange rate is a top priority.
Read this guide to the most convenient and cheap ways to buy Thai baht.
Get familiar with the interbank exchange rate to make sure you aren’t unwittingly being ripped off
The interbank or mid-market exchange rate is the mid-point at which a currency is bought and sold on the global market. It’s also the only real rate, and the same one you’ll find on Google. Nearly all currency conversion services and banks will offer you a rate poorer than mid-market rate - making their profits in hidden markups. That’s why it’s important for you to get educated before you hand in your cash for exchange.
Keep in mind that exchange rates are constantly changing. So if you check the rates on one day and then exchange a few days later, the rates could have drastically swung one way or another. They can be affected by a range of outside factors including inflation, interest rates, government debt and even a country’s political stability.
To help make sure you’re not being unknowingly ripped off, before you get your Thai baht use an online currency converter to find out the current exchange rate to check how much money you should get in the end. Oftentimes currency exchange places offer ‘free’ or ‘zero commission’ exchanges - but it’s never actually free. They work their profit into poor exchange rates. Come prepared by knowing your exchange rates and it should help you avoid these pitfalls.
More often than not, your best option abroad will be to use a local ATM and select to be charged in Thai baht. Choosing to be charged in Thai baht (THB) rather than your own currency stops a foreign bank from effectively choosing their own exchange rate and adding in an unreasonable charge on your account. Keep control, know the local exchange rate and don’t let an ATM do the conversion for you.
Another helpful thing to do is, before you leave home, ask your local bank if they have partnerships in place with a local bank in Thailand. This can help to avoid any nasty, hidden charges if you use the partner bank’s ATMs.
Spend up all of your baht while you’re in Bangkok to avoid the charges that come with re-exchanging back into your home currency. You probably won’t need too much encouragement here – the city is bustling with great restaurants, cultural attractions and amazing nightspot. Spend your money boosting the local economy rather than paying a premium on converting it back when you get home.
Another common trap is airport and hotel exchanges. While converting currency last-minute at an airport may be convenient, you can end up paying a big premium for the privilege. Airport exchange rates often come with large margins and are notoriously uncompetitive. The same rule goes for local hotels – exchanging here might be easy, but it certainly won’t be cheap.
There are plenty of options when it comes to exchanging your local currency into Thai baht in Bangkok, and we’ve listed some of the most popular here.
A word of warning though – these places will still make charges, either visible or hidden in the exchange rate. Find out today’s mid-market rate by using our currency converter.
|Bangkok Bank||Multiple locations throughout the city - check their website for the closest one to you. P: +66 02636-0578|
|SuperRich Thailand||Address 1 : 47/11-13 Rajdamri Rd. Pathumwan Bangkok. 10330 ; Address 2 : 67,69 Ratchadamri Rd. Lumpini, Pathumwan Bangkok. 10330 ; Address 3: 49,51 Ratchadamri Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok. 10330 ; P: +66 (0)2 655-2488, +66 (0)2 655-2400|
|Vasu Exchange||133-133/1 ซอย สุขุมวิท 7/1 Sukhumvit Rd, Khlong Toei Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand P: +66 2 251 1859|
The cost of exchanging money into Thai baht can vary enormously depending on which currency provider you choose. You’ld be better off using a credit card in a local ATM if you want to get the most mileage from your money. But beware, carrying out transactions on credit cards - instead of withdrawing from an ATM- can incur costly fees.
If you do choose to use a currency exchange in Bangkok, stay vigilant. Make sure you ask exactly how much money to expect before handing over your hard-earned cash.
As far as spending goes, Bangkok is relatively inexpensive for a thriving, metropolitan city. A mid-range meal for two comes to around $20.41 or £16.20, a bottle of beer $1.73 or £1.39 and a one-way local transportation ticket can be bought for around $1 or £0.80.
So spend your baht indulging your senses in the best that Thailand has to offer instead of being ripped off by local banks. Using an ATM is still the cheapest and most convenient way to get money – just always remember the golden rule: choose all credit and debit card transactions to be charged in baht, not your home currency.
If you’re someone who plans ahead and already knows someone in Bangkok with a bank account, for an even cheaper alternative you can consider using TransferWise. Your money will be converted a the real mid-market exchange rate with no hidden markup, and because TransferWise works by making two local bank transfers in the respective countries, expensive international fees are also cut out.
Enjoy your time in Bangkok!