Thailand Baht - THB
The Thailand baht – or Thai baht as it is sometimes called – is the official currency in use in Thailand. It is a decimal currency that is subdivided into 100 satang.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
There are nine coins in circulation for the baht, five of which are measured in the satang. These are the 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 satang coins. There are four others in the baht, which are 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht coins. In reality you may not come across too many of the lowest denomination satang coins because they are not worth very much today.
There are also five banknotes in circulation, of which the lowest in value is the 20 baht note. You then have the 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 baht notes.
From past to present – the history of the Thailand baht
The baht is actually an incredibly old currency. No one quite knows how old but originally it was used in much the same way the British pound was before it became decimalised. The baht was worked out according to weight rather than value, in association with the weight of silver. In those times there were eleven kinds of coins in use, one of which was the baht. Among the others were the cheapest coin, the bia, and the most expensive, the chang.
Change would come to the currency in 1897. This was the point that it was decided the currency should be decimalised and the baht and satang were born as we know them today. In the early days of the decimal system the baht was still on the silver standard, but this ended in the early years of the 20th century. From the 1920s onwards, it was pegged to one or other foreign currency such as the Japanese yen or the US dollar in order to work out its value.
How to get hold of Thailand bahts
Thailand is a very popular destination for tourists and the country is well developed to accommodate tourist requirements. This means you should have few problems locating cash points from which to withdraw the currency you need.
You can also get some bahts to take into the country with you and indeed this is a good idea. If you visit smaller out of the way places in the country, cash points are nowhere near as prevalent as they are in the cities. It’s therefore best not to rely on them being around all the time. The same applies to using your credit or debit cards. While many places will accept them you don’t want to rely on one card as your sole means for paying for something.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Thailand baht
All bureaux de changes and online exchange places have different rates that apply to various currencies. However you can get the basic like for like exchange rate on a standard currency converter. If you want more specific information from bureaux de changes you should visit a selection of them to see how many bahts you would get for the amount of spending money you wish to convert from your own currency. This can easily be done online and if you visit several websites you can compare the rates charged by each one.
It is also worth noting that some providers don’t appear to charge any commission. In these cases it is generally built into the conversion rate that will be applied to your currency.
You can find out lots more about visiting Thailand by going to the official Thailand tourism website at http://www.tourismthailand.org.
Travelling safely with Thailand bahts
It is well worth checking with the UK government website to consider the latest travel advice before booking a trip to Thailand. While most people visit the country with no problems at all, some southern regions near the border with Malaysia may not be advisable to visit. The same applies to areas near the border with Cambodia.
There is the chance of earthquakes in the country and there is also deemed to be a high threat from terrorists. You should bear all this in mind prior to making plans and check the latest information before you do anything else.
The usual safety rules apply when it comes to carrying your bahts around with you. While violent crime does occur the statistics show that most people will be unaffected by it while in the country. You can help reduce the odds of being affected by keeping your money safe on your person while enjoying your holiday. It is also a good idea not to carry too much and to invest in a money belt. Many people keep small amounts of cash in different places so if the worst happens you may not lose everything. The main areas where crimes such as pickpocketing go on are predictably in the cities. Anywhere that is known to attract a large number of tourists is at a higher risk of attracting bag snatchers and those who will pick pockets, so be aware of this.
One of the more common crimes in Thailand that could affect you if you are not careful is credit card fraud. The same rules apply in Thailand as they do at home – never let anyone take your card out of your sight. Don’t be afraid to question anyone who tries to do so or to follow them to make sure your card doesn’t disappear out of your sight.
This shouldn’t put you off visiting the country: if you are sensible and you think smartly you should be fine. Minimising the risks ahead of time will help keep you much safer as well. Another good example is only to stick with proper official organised tours if you want to visit a particular destination. Unofficial ones can often be scams and could cost you dearly.
Incidentally you are expected to have your passport on you at all times while in Thailand. Don’t forget and leave it in your hotel room as if you are stopped and asked to produce it you could get into trouble if you cannot do so straightaway.
Where to spend your baht in Thailand – and what to spend them on
Before we go into the different places you can visit in Thailand and the many options you have for spending your money, it is worth finding out how you might look after your money while in the country. You may wonder what we mean by this. Well, if you tuck your banknotes into your wallet and then slide your wallet into your rear pocket and sit down, you will be offending many Thai people. Since the King of Thailand’s image appears on the banknotes it is seen as rude to sit on them. It makes sense when you think about it, so be mindful of this when you are in the country.
So let’s now think about where you can go in Thailand. Bangkok is a popular destination for many visitors to try. It can be affected by protests and demonstrations so do check how safe it is to visit there before you travel. That aside, the capital of Thailand has a lot to offer. Siam Square is worth a visit if you are passionate about shopping and you want to see what is on offer. If you want to sample some of the street markets the city is famous for, try out Yaowarat Road and Phahurat Road. Alternatively if it is well known sights you are after, you should head for Old Bangkok, which is house to the Grand Palace among other breath taking sights.
Chiang Rai is another amazing city to visit in the country, and you will have to travel far north to see it. It boasts lots of greenery so you will feel calm wherever you happen to be in the city. It provides a nice method of escape if you get sensory overload! There are also many other attractions nearby, such as Namtok Khun Kon Forest Park, if you are looking for some experiences outside of a city.
Sukhothai is another unmissable sight, and the name might also be familiar to you. It is the name of an ancient city that also occupied this area, and you can still see the ruins today. Centuries old, they provide some insight into how Thailand was when it was known as Siam.
If you are piqued by curiosity at the thought of seeing a national park, make it Khao Sok National Park. The views are stunning and there is plenty of wildlife here, not to mention forests, lakes and other areas. Get in touch with nature and explore the park at your leisure if you have the time.
As you can see you will have plenty of destinations, experiences and attractions to help you part with your Thailand baht. However one other area we have yet to mention is food. Chefs in Thailand are proud to create dishes that look just as good as they taste. Therefore you can expect to enjoy a real experience when you eat out. Herbs make regular appearances in the food so it will smell wonderful as well. One of the main dishes you will come across is Tom Yam Goong, which counts lemongrass among its fragrant ingredients. Noodle soup – or Kuay Tiew – is another must try experience, if only to attempt eating soup with chopsticks! It comes in a variety of guises featuring different meats in each.
Visiting Thailand is certainly well worth the journey. Providing you take the latest travel advice to stay safe while you are there, you will enjoy a wonderful time exploring everything the country has to offer. From ancient history to modern day shopping, Thailand really can offer it all.