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Thailand currency: clues and tips to pay with the Baht

by Catherine Carey | May 10, 2024
Thailand currency

Is Thailand your next travel destination? Explore Thailand, known as the "Land of Smiles," knowing as a local how to use the Baht in Thailand. Its rich culture, stunning landscapes, delicious cuisine, and unparalleled hospitality are waiting for a traveler like you.

After you get your visa for Thailand, and know all about the entry and the Thailand visa requirements, you must know how to deal with the Thailand currency. Let’s dive in the Baht, the currency in Thailand. 

What is Thailand currency?

The Thailand currency is the Baht (THB), which is then subdivided into 100 satang, and it can only be issued by the Bank of Thailand. There are banknotes of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1.000 Thai baht. The coins are of 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht, as well as 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 satangs. 

You can expect to find these colors in the banknotes

  • 20 Thai baht: green.
  • 50 Thai baht: blue.
  • 100 Thai baht: color red.
  • 500 Thai baht: color purple.
  • 1,000 Thai baht: color brown.

The Baht can be traced back to the 13th century, but the first time it was introduced as an official currency was in 1857 during the reign of King Rama IV. Nowadays it is one of the most stable currencies in Asia.

Thailand currency should be respected to the highest of your abilities. In fact, touching a banknote with your foot can risk jail time. The Thai king is depicted in banknotes and coins so it is absolutely forbidden to disrespect or mishandle these objects. Additionally, notes should not have rips or pen marks on them since most banks and exchange offices will not accept them.

Thai Baht banknote

How to exchange Thailand currency in Thailand?

Since the Baht is an open traded currency it can be obtained outside of Thailand, such as in your home country before you travel to Thailand. Nevertheless, you will most likely receive a better exchange rate in Thailand

In Thailand you will find multiple local and international banks like Citibank and Standard Chartered, airports, currency exchange offices, ATMs and hotels. 

It is reported that currency exchange bureaus and banks offer the best exchange. Exchange desks in international airports and hotels are usually the worst places to exchange money. Our tip is to compare different banks and exchange offices to get the best deal in order to get the Thailand currency. Keep in mind you will need to show some documents like your passport when asking for the currency of Thailand at banks.

ATMs are widely extended in Thailand, but are specially available in major cities, tourist areas, shopping centers, and airports. In all ATMs you will be charged an extra fee for using the machine and you will likely find another separate fee from your bank for using your credit or debit card abroad. This extra fee is usually about 220-300 Baht ($6 - $8) in Thailand, but can be higher.

Your home country’s bank and local banks in Thailand can charge extra fees for withdrawals. Ask your bank about possible fees and inform them that you are going to be using your credit or debit card in Thailand to avoid it being blocked

When using an ATM we recommend avoiding dynamic currency conversion, this is the option to pay in your home currency. Ignore this and select Thai Baht because paying in your currency typically incurs a less favorable exchange rate than the standard conversion rate. Also note that there is usually a limit of 20,000 Baht you can withdraw each time you use an ATM.

While Thailand is becoming increasingly touristy and card payments are becoming more common, it is still a very cash-driven society. You must always carry cash with you. If you want to pay with a Visa or a Mastercard card you won’t find any major problems in large stores, high-class restaurants, hotels and such. In beach bars, buses, taxis, pharmacies, kiosks, rural areas or smaller supermarkets you must pay with cash. Usually small notes are used and satangs are rounded up or down. 

Lastly, please note that if you have any leftover baht and wish to exchange it back to your currency, you will receive a much less favorable rate. Our recommendation is to gradually take out the money you need during your trip, leaving little or nothing to exchange back. Remember: if you are entering or leaving Thailand with more than USD $20,000 in foreign currency or its equivalent, you must declare it.

Thailand currency to USD (Baht to USD)

Although currency exchange rates change daily, here is an example of what you can expect to find: 

Baht to USD:   1 USD = 36.77 Thai Baht

You can check here the exchange rate before your trip. 

Thailand currency

Is Thailand expensive?

Thailand is quite a cheap holiday destination for the most part. Nevertheless, you can find high prices in some stores, hotels and restaurants if they are high-end establishments. 

You can plan all types of budgets for Thailand. A budget trip to Thailand can cost around 850 Baht ($23) to 1,200 Baht ($33) per day, a mid-range trip can cost around 1,450 Baht ($40) to 2,500 Baht ($68) per day and a luxury trip can cost anywhere from 3,000 Baht ($81) to 6,000 Baht ($163) or more per day. 

Is Thailand expensive? Here are some prices for different products in order for you to know what to expect when you travel to Thailand:

  • Trying Thailand food in a normal restaurant (not cheap not expensive) can cost 100-200 Baht ($2.71 - $5.42) and at street food stands can cost between 50 - 100 Baht ($1.31 - $2.71).
  • Sipping some beers from Thailand can range from 50 - 120 Baht ($1.30 - $3), while international beers can cost up to 200 Baht ($5.42).
  • Buying water can cost around 10-29 Baht ($0.30- $0.80).
  • If you want to commute through Thailand, you can expect to pay between 10-53 Baht ($0.30- $1.44) for a one-way bus ticket and between 35-77 Baht ($1- $2) for a Taxi start.
  • You can rent a hostel dorm bed for 200 - 600 Baht ($5.42- $16.27) per night, a mid-range hotel room can costs from 600 to 1000 Baht ($16.27 - $27.12) and luxury hotels and resorts can start from 1,500 Baht ($41) to whatever you want to spend.

Is tipping mandatory in Thailand? 

Tipping is not mandatory in Thailand and usually it is not expected for you to give a tip. Nevertheless, you can leave tips if you want to. Here are some tips you can leave:

  • In ordinary restaurants, you can leave whatever spare change you have, but in more high-end restaurants you should leave between 5% and 10%. Note that servers often receive tips through a service charge included in the bill.
  • In taxis you can round up the fare and leave the change. 
  • In hotels there is a service charge included in the bill, but you can give porters or housekeeping staff 20 Baht ($0.54).
  • You can also leave a tip to your tour guide of around 10% of the tour price.
  • If you go for a massage or for a spa day, you can leave a tip of around 15% to your therapist.

Thailand values modesty highly, so please leave your tips (preferably in cash) without offending anyone or being rude. Tip discreetly, and if there is a tip box provided for the service, you can leave it there.