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Money in Thailand

Thai currency is decimal based and divided into baht and satang. There are 100 satang to 1 baht.

"Copper" coins are valued at 25 and 50 satang. "Silver" coins are in denominations of 1' 2 and 5 baht. A 10 baht coin is composed of both "silver" and "copper". Banknotes are valued at 10 baht (brown), 20 baht (green), 50 baht (blue), 100 baht (red), 500 baht (purple) and 1,000 baht (khaki).

Credit cards including Visa, Mastcard, American Express and Diner's Club are accepted at all luxury hotels and the more expensive restaurants.

Traveller's cheques can be cashed at banks and exchange counters in major towns and resorts.

ATM machines all over thailand accept the most widely used cards including major credit cards and debit cards such as cirrus and maestro cards.

Thai and foreign banks provide standard services nationwide, Monday through Friday, except public and bank holidays, between 9.30 AM and 3.30 PM.

Major banks such as Bangkok Bank, Thai Danu Bank, Thai Farmers Bank and Siam Commercial Bank operate currency exchange centres in most tourist areas from 7.00 AM to 9.00 PM, seven days a week, including holidays.

Many first-class hotels provide 24-hour money exchange services, but only for major currencies such as American dollars, British pounds, German marks and Swiss francs. Travellers cheques are generally accepted only from bona fide hotel guests.

Exchange Control

1. Foreign tourists may freely bring in foreign banknotes or other types of foreign exchange. Upon leaving Thailand, a foreign tourist may freely take out foreign means of payments which he brought in with him, with the exception that foreign notes or coins are limited to a maximum equivalent of US$ 10,000 or the amount declared in writing to Customs upon arrival. Failure to do so may lead to arrest, confiscation of the excess amount involved and/or prosecution.

2. For travellers leaving Thailand, the maximum amount permitted to take out without prior authorization is 50,000 baht per person

3. Foreign visitors may bring in personal effects and other goods which are not prohibited by current customs regulation. Other than personal effects, departing visitors are also allowed to take out merchandise bought from duty free shops, precious stones, gold and platinum ornaments.

4. Foreign visitors are welcome to open a foreign currency account with any commercial bank in Thailand. As a special gesture to nonresidents, no restrictions are imposed on the maintenance of and withdrawal from the account, as long as the funds originate from abroad.

Tipping and Bargaining

Tipping is not normal practice in Thailand, although they are getting used to it in expensive hotels and restaurants. Elsewhere don't bother. The exception is loose change left from a large Thai restaurant bill; for example if a meal costs 288B and you pay with a 500B note, some thais and foreign residents will leave the 12B coin change on the change tray. It's not so much a tip as a way of saying "I'm not so money-grubbing as to grab the last baht". On the other hand change left from a 50B note for a 44B bill will usually not be left behind.

Good bargaining, which takes practice is another way to cut costs. Anything bought in a market should be bargained for; prices in department stores and most non-tourist shops are fixed.

Sometimes accommodation rates can be bargained down. One may need to bargain hard in heavily touristed areas since the one-week, all air-con type of visitor often pays whatever is asked, creating an artificial price zone between the local and tourist market that the budgeter must deal with.

On the other hand the Thai' aren't always trying to rip you off, so use some discretion when going to bone on a price. There's a fine line between bargaining and niggling - getting hot under the collar about 5B makes both the seller and buyer lose face. Likewise a frown is a poor bargaining tool. In general start by offering about 50% of the original asking price and work up form there. Some times you can get up to 40% off the original asking price.

The cost of transportation between cities and within them is very reasonable; again bargaining (when hiring a vehicle) can save you a lot of baht.

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