Thailand’s national currency is Thai Baht, which equals 100 satang. International designation is THB.
There are coins at par value of 25 and 50 satang, and banknotes at par value of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000 baht in circulation.
You can pay only with local currency in Bangkok. Foreign currency can be exchanged for Thai Baht in banks or in Licensed Money Changers, which can be easily found in any district, especially in popular tourist centers.
Branches of large banks work Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Small banks and Licensed Money Changers work from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on work days. Be alert and try to exchange money only in official (licensed) exchange points. You can also exchange currency in hotels and guest houses, but they usually have worse exchange rate than banks and Licensed Money Changers.
Consider that exchange rate depends on par value of banknotes: banknotes at par value of 1 to 20 USD have the lowest rate and new banknotes from 50 to 100 USD have the highest one. The difference is up to 2-3%. In addition, keep in mind that US Dollars issued before 1993 are accepted not everywhere.
It is common to tip for services in Bangkok. It is the way to say thank you. If the service markup is not included in the check, it is common to tip 5 to 10% from total sum.
A porter in a hotel usually gets 20 - 50 baht (depending on quantity and weight of luggage). The same amount is usually given to the maid cleaning the room. Taxi drivers and tour guides usually don’t expect a tip, but if you are happy with the service rendered, you can tip 20 - 30 baht.
Please note that tipping change is not accepted in Bangkok – it could be perceived as an insult.
It is possible to cash traveler’s checks in all Bangkok banks and specialized exchange offices. Given that banks charge a fee of about 30 THB (1 USD) for this operation, it pays to use traveler’s checks of high par value (500, 100 USD). Passport is required in order to cash traveler’s checks.
American Express and Thomas Cook checks, issued in US Dollar, are the most frequently accepted ones in Bangkok.
Credit cards are widely spread in Bangkok: they are accepted in most hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls. Cards of almost all major international payment systems are accepted here: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club. However, remember that that you might be charged a fee of 3-5% for paying with credit card in some places – as a rule, in small shops and cafes. Therefore, ask seller/waiter about this fee if any and its amount before paying with a card.
It is not a problem to withdraw cash in Bangkok – cash machines are installed literally on every corner: near banks, on bus stations, at the airport and in most shopping centers, even in non-tourist area. Consider that most of them allow withdrawing a limited amount at a time: 10 000 to 20 000 THB depending on a bank.
A fee of 150 THB per transaction, which is added to the withdrawal interest and conversion fee, set by the bank – the card issuer bank and the ATM bank – is imposed when you withdraw cash.
Offered at the so called street kitchens, Thai dishes are the cheapest ones: you can have a lunch for 50 – 100 THB (1.6 – 3.2 USD). They are followed by Food Courts that can be found at any large shopping mall. They offer a wide selection of dishes at affordable price: a lunch costs 100 – 150 THB (3.2 – 4.8 USD). Fast food restaurants have a little higher price range: 200 – 250 THB (6.5 – 8 USD).
An average bill at economy-class restaurant makes up 400 – 600 THB (13 – 190 USD) per person without drinks, at middle-class restaurant – 600 – 900 THB (19 – 30 USD). The cost of dinner at an elite restaurant is higher: from 1000 – 1200 THB (from 32 – 38 USD).
A 0.6-liter bottle of local beer costs from 30 – 60 THB (1 – 2 USD), the same amount of imported beer costs 60 – 100 THB (2 – 3.2 USD).
Bangkok offers accommodation to fit any taste and purse: it has a lot of cheap guesthouses and economy-class hotels for tourists with limited budget as well as fashionable hotels for those who prefer luxury and high-quality service.
A guesthouse costs about 5 to 11 USD per night, a hostel – 11 to 20 USD per night. A double room with breakfast in an affordable hotel costs from 25 to 50 USD per night, in a middle-class hotel – from 50 to 100 USD, and the same room in a top-level hotel costs 125 USD and higher.
At the same time, local hotels often offer discounts on their services. Therefore, inform yourself about special offers before booking a room. Travelers, who look for cheap accommodation and convenient access to city’s main attractions, usually choose hotels located near Khaosan Road.
A taxi is a convenient and a relatively cheap mode of transportation in Bangkok. Due to frequent traffic jams on capital’s roads, it is not the fastest one, though. Local taxis are air-conditioned autos, which can be easily spotted on the city streets thanks to bright color (they can be yellow, green, red, pink, orange) and a sign ‘Taxi – Meter’ on the roof.
Payment is made by the meter. If a driver refuses to turn on the meter and offers to drive you for a fixed price, look for another auto. Boarding in a taxi costs 35 THB (a little more than 1 USD), this price includes the first kilometer of journey. Total cost depends on the distance, which you need to travel. Taxi ride costs 5 THB per kilometer at a total distance of 2 to 12 km, 5,5 THB per kilometer at a total distance of 12 to 20 km, 6 THB per kilometer at a total distance of 20 to 40 km, 6,5 THB per kilometer at a total distance of 40 to 60 km, 7,5 THB per kilometer at a total distance of 60 to 80 km, and 8,5 THB per kilometer at a total distance of more than 80 km. However, if you stuck in jam, the price is calculated differently: at the speed of less than 6 km/h you have to pay 1,5 THB per minute regardless of kilometers.
In addition, the price of a taxi ride includes road tolls, which vary from 30 to 80 THB depending on a road. There is also an airport toll (50 THB), which is paid if you travel from the airport to Bangkok. In total, a taxi ride from the international airport to the city center costs approximately 300 – 400 THB (10 – 13 USD). The meter is not used for trips outside the capital – suburbs or neighboring cities, such as Pattaya. There are special fixed tariffs in this case.
It is easy to catch a taxi in the street in Bangkok. They are especially plenty in the downtown, where you’ll wait for a free car no more than half a minute. In addition, there are special taxi terminals almost near all major shopping malls and hotels, and near main sights.
Auto rickshaws (tuk-tuks) are very popular in Bangkok. This transportation mean is convenient only for short trips or more frequently leisure drives around the city. The price depends on the distance and is about 30 – 140 THB (1 – 4,5 USD).