Money, ATM, & Currency Exchange

Thai Bank Notes

The currency of Thailand is the Baht.  One Baht is worth 100 Satangs. The most common denominations of bills are 20 baht, 50 baht, 100 baht, 500 baht, and 1,000 baht notes.  The most common coins are 1 baht, 2 baht, 5 baht denominations.  Satangs are worth so little in value that they are not usually used in everyday life.

Types of Payment in Thailand

Thailand is largely still a cash society amongst the numerous smaller vendors.  Many of the small guest houses, restaurants, and shops will only accept cash.  Hotels, large restaurants, and major shopping malls generally will accept credit cards, but it is a good idea to ask first otherwise it could lead to some uncomfortable situations and hotfooting it to the closest ATM.

Cash

Cash is still the preferred way to pay, especially in small amounts.  Debit cards are common, but most places don’t take them.  Even exchanging large bills like 1000 baht notes can pose a problem for smaller shops and is often advised to break the larger bills at places like 7-11 or restaurants.  A baht bus or taxi driver is not likely to be able to break those larger bills.

Credit and Debit Cards

Outside of the major hotels, department stores, and large restaurant chains, they are generally not accepted.  There seems to be a move towards larger acceptance in Bangkok, but as mentioned previously, cash is not only preferred but often times the only way to pay.

Where to Get Baht

ATM’s and Currency exchanges are the main way to get baht while in Pattaya.  ATM’s are located everywhere around town and quite easy to find in most malls, convenience stores, and banks.  Currency exchanges are also plentiful but scattered throughout town.

You’ll find ATM’s at the airport where it is a good idea to get some cash before hopping in your taxi or buying a Thai SIM for your mobile phone if you choose to do so.

ATM

Thai ATM
Thai ATM Machines

ATM’s accept cards from around the world and work just like they do back home.  They can be found outside 7-11 and Family Mart stores, outside of banks, inside shopping malls, and various places around town.  There seems to be a convenience store on every corner in Pattaya so you are never far away from an ATM.

ATM Skimming

A word of caution, there are consistent reports in the news about ATM skimmers operating out of Pattaya.  If anything looks out of place at the ATM you are using it is best to just move to another location.  Typically secured locations are banks and inside shopping malls.  Central Festival in Pattaya has an office for every Bank in Thailand and dozens of ATM machines on the 4th floor.

The ATM menus are available in both Thai and English so you shouldn’t have any concerns about not being to operate them.

ATM Fees & Exchange Rates

Fees for withdrawing money at an ATM in Pattaya are currently around 200 baht, but some are higher.  It makes sense to take out as much as you can and cover yourself for the next day or two.  You should only carry the amount of money you need for the day or night and leave the extra money you withdrew in your hotel safe.  Check with your bank and see if they reimburse international ATM fees.  Not many do, but there are a few.  Charles Schwab bank is one of them.  If you have one of these cards you will get a credit to your account on your next statement and not have to worry what the bank is charging

Most ATM’s will ask you if you want to have the exchange rate converted for your withdrawal.  Don’t do this.  You will get the worst possible rate, which is good for the bank, not for you.  Saying no will allow the conversion your bank to get the best rate it can.

Currency Exchanges – Cash & Travelers Checks

You can exchange money directly at the banks or at the many currency exchange booths throughout Pattaya.  The stands stay open much later than the banks making them more convenient for many travelers.  These currency exchange booths are typically operated by banks, with a smaller number of privately operated units.  Finding the best exchange rate is a matter of effort, walking around town and checking out which booth offers the most compelling rate.  Though rates don’t vary significantly between booths, it is worth checking out exchange rates a few places.

Traveler’s checks are accepted by most bank operated exchanges and typically get a better rate than pure currency exchange.  It also provides greater security if they are lost or stolen.  In the age of debit cards, Traveler’s checks seem to less common means of getting money while abroad.

Keep Your Money Safe

It’s not advisable to carry a large amount of cash on you when you are about town.  It is a best practice to only carry what you need for the day or evening and leave any extra in the safe in the hotel.  Only carry what you can afford to lose.

Pattaya is a relatively safe travel destination, however, there is crime, including pickpocketing, bag snatching, and muggings.  The people that most often make the new usually have made bad decisions – wearing gold chains or expensive watches while walking down a dark alley or letting Ladyboys or girls rub up on them on beach road in the wee hours of the morning.  They always seem to report they were carrying large sums of cash with them.  Like anywhere else in the world, use common sense and you should be just fine.

  • Don’t walk dark streets alone late at night
  • Be careful of girls or ladyboys trying to stop and rub up on you if you walk down Beach Road late at night.  Better yet – don’t walk down beach road late at night
  • Take a motorcycle taxi or Baht bus
  • Be vigilant – keep aware of your surroundings, whether walking, riding on a baht bus, or sitting at a bar or restaurant
  • Be knowledgeable of the scams that are commonly run in Pattaya

Western Union

If you get in a bind and need emergency cash, Western Union has several offices in Pattaya.  Someone at home can send money online right from the computer to the local office you choose.  The transaction is almost instant.  Cost for the service differs by the amount you send and where.

To receive the cash you will need your passport and the tracking number from the sender.

Western Union is also the most common way for men to send money to their Thai Girlfriends after they have returned home.

 

Photo Credits:

Bank Notes, ATM,

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