The exchange rate between baht and dollars, pounds or euros is very favourable, so you can really ‘style it’ here. Changing a couple hundred bucks can leave you loaded! Money changing in Thailand is very practical and needn’t cost much in fees.
The standard method here is to for banks to quote their own rates inclusive of their percentage fee, which usually amounts to about three to five per cent. Rates for exchanging traveller’s cheques or cash are usually about five per cent more than direct debits. Unless you are stranded in the airport or a plush resort, the rates don’t vary much and it’s hardly worth the hassle of shopping around.
No one wants to waste time signing bits of paper and displaying your passport to exchange bureaux staff right? Take it from us as seasoned travellers, the easiest, safest and most practical means of getting at your dough here in Thailand is to insert your nice little piece of plastic into an ATM and withdraw reasonable amounts of cash.
However, check first with your bank whether the fees for this are unreasonable. Automatic tellers are widespread, even in the smaller towns, and all of them offer instructions in English. The maximum withdrawal per day allowed is 20,000 baht (about US$650/UK£400). Normally banks charge foreign cards 150 baht per transaction, so perhaps take out a large wad once a week to minimise this expense.
Pickpocketing and muggings, even room theft, is far less of a risk here, nonetheless it’s advisable not to carry large quantities of cash around. ATMs usually dispense 1,000 and 500 baht notes, so your wallet isn’t going to go all obese on you, like it does in Vietnam or Laos. ATMs accept all international Visa, Mastercard, JCB, Switch and selected other cards.
Exchange bureaux are numerous in tourist areas, and many banks also have a forex counter. The best rates are secured at commercial banks, as apposed to exchange bureaux booths in busy tourist areas. Here in Samui, the staff you are likely to encounter when changing money all speak English. A passport is always needed as proof of ID when withdrawing money from an exchange bureau.