Money Exchange in Bangkok, Thailand (Currency Exchange - How to)
Is changing money in Bangkok easy or difficult?
Generally, changing money – at least changing an internationally recognized currency such as the Euro, US Dollar or Yen – is very easy.
Where is the best place to change money?
The most economical and safest way to do this is through a Thai bank, such as Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, or Krung Thai Bank.
Isn't that difficult?
No, it is not difficult. While not all bank branches or offices are empowered to do currency exchanges, many are and the number that can do exchanges is continually increasing. Banks also operate exchange kiosks in all areas frequented by tourists. In additions, banks operate these facilities inside major shopping centers and malls.
What if I have some strange currency such as the Mexican Peso or Korean Won?
Generally, that is no problem as long as the currency is approved by the bank's central office. Currencies from most “respectable' countries, such as Australia, Mexico, Korea, and the United Arab Emirates are exchangeable.
Why do you say banks are safe?
Bank clerks are generally quite honest although they are human and can make mistakes. The clerks will use a calculator and calculate the amount of currency a customer is entitled to purchase – the rates of exchange are always clearly posted – and will count out the currency and give it to the customer along with a detailed receipt.
There are no hidden fees. Customers can examine the receipt and the amount of money they receive. I have never heard of an incident where a customer has complained that he or she was taken advantage of.
I have heard that the banks give you different amounts of money for different currency denominations? Is that true? That seems unfair.
Well, it is true that Thai banks have different exchange rates for different denominations of currency.
Generally, the larger the denominations, the better the rate of exchange for the person exchanging it.
For example, a person exchanging one American hundred dollar bill will get more baht than someone exchanging five twenty dollar bills.
The difference in the rates of exchange is usually quite small and is really not worth worrying about unless one is exchanging very large sums of money.
I have also heard that customers can get better rates for traveler's checks than for currency. Is that true?
Yes, customers can get a slightly better rate when they exchange travelers checks, although they must pay a very small additional fee – don't worry, you will still come out ahead.
Anyway, the difference in the rates for travelers checks and large currency denominations is small. One thing you need to be aware of is that when you change traveler checks, the clerk will ask you for your passport. A passport is not required to exchange currency.
Well, changing money at banks sounds pretty good. Are their any problems with changing money at banks?
Well, it is possible, of course, that you might not be able to find one when you need one. You also need to be aware that most banking facilities will be closed after 8:00 PM, so one needs to take care of changing money before, say, around 8:00 PM.
Does it matter which bank I use?
No, not really. Rates do differ from bank to bank but not by enough to make a real difference in what you will receive for your currency.
Someone told me I could withdraw money from my account in my own country using the ATM's here. Can I do that?
Yes, you can use a credit card or debit card from a bank in your own country to do this, and you will get a slightly better exchange rate, too. But all Thai banks now put a 150 baht fee on ATM transactions with foreign banks so most people don't want to do this very often.
Are there other legal ways to exchange currency in Bangkok?
There are a few licensed money changers. They are probably okay, but there aren't very many of them, or at least most foreigners will not see them You can also change money with large hotels but they usually give poor rates.
Is there much of a black market for currency exchange? How can I find it? Can I get in trouble exchanging money this way?
There is a black market and if you know and trust someone you will probably be okay to use it. The authorities generally do not care if foreigners use a black market exchange as long as they are buying baht.
But if you have a problem, you can't complain to the authorities, and you should be aware the counterfeiting is a serious problem in Thailand and the chance of receiving counterfeit money increases when you use black market exchangers.
When you do business with a bank, you are protected by the receipt they give you, at least to some degree, but when you do exchanges on the black market, you have no protection form this problem. If you want to use a black market, you must ask around. There are several in the Silom and Sukhimvit areas.
What if I want to exchange my baht for a foreign currency? Can I do that?
That is more complicated. If you are a tourist and are leaving the country through the airport, there is usually no problem although the authorities have the right to ask to see your currency purchase receipts to prove that you obtained your Thai currency legally.
Can I exchange my Thai currency at a local bank?
Yes, you can but there is a greater likelihood that the bank representative will ask to see a receipt proving that you obtained the baht legally. Of course, you will be required to show your passport.
Remember, that as a tourist, you are not supposed to be working, and, of course, you should not obtain currency in an illegal way... such as by gambling. You also need to be aware that many exchanges will only exchange Euros, US dollars, or Yen, and you might be referred to a larger office or branch if you want another type of currency.
Can I exchange my Thai currency on the black market?
Of course it is possible but it is more risky than changing foreign currency for baht. I have heard stories about foreigners being arrested for exchanging Thai currency which they were told shortly thereafter – when they were arrested - was counterfeit.