Money & Exchange
The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht. This comes in the form of notes and coins, with the largest banknote being 1,000 baht.
Please take care until you are familiar with the currency - the 500 Baht notes are a similar colour and size to the 100 Baht notes and it often happens that newcomers confuse the two.
Banks & ATMs
Larger branches of the Thai banks are everywhere and you'll find several on Chaweng Beach Road itself. But there are also 'kiosks' scattered around too, which offer money changing without the full banking services.
Whereas the branches keep to the usual banking hours of 9.30 - 4.30, in the more popular tourist areas of Chaweng and Lamai the kiosks will often remain open until around 10:00 pm.
ATM machines are now to be found at almost every corner and it seems almost compulsorily that every 7-11 boasts one, if not more!
The first point to be aware of is that changing currency into Thai Baht will attract a very poor rate if you do it in your own country before you come. But you'll find that the exchange rates from all of the banks in Thailand are favourable, including those to be found at the airports.
As with most countries, traveler's cheques can be cashed almost anywhere. As with other forms of exchange there is a fee associated with cashing traveler's cheques as well.
Cash on your Plastic
It's a popular alternative to use a credit or debit card to withdraw the spending money (Thai baht) that you need here. There's rarely any problem in doing this, and it can be done at any ATM. However be aware that all the Thai banks now levy a standard 150 Baht charge for any international withdrawal, regardless of the amount. There's also a daily limit of maximum withdrawals - usually 20,000 Baht - although this varies from one bank to another.
Paying with your Credit Cards
The big hotels, resorts and restaurants will accept your cards for payment, as will the more up-market jewelry and souvenir shops. But, generally, you'll find cards are used here much less than they are in the West.
Don't forget to notify your bank back home that you'll be using your card over here - they have an irritating habit of 'protecting' you by putting a stop on your card if they're not told beforehand.
If you plan on bringing a large amount of money with you to the island, bring it in the form of traveler's cheques. They are insured if lost or stolen and can be re-issued to you within a day or two.
If you are in a pinch and you need money, there are many Western Union locations on the island. This provides a secure and fast transfer of money, although you will have to bear the poor conversion rate into Baht and the high fees that go with the transaction - often, in combination, anything up to 20%.
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