Changing foreign currency while in Bangkok is easy as ATMs and currency exchange bureaux are found in all tourist areas of the city, along with at the airport. You are seldom inconvenienced with accessing money while in Bangkok.
Currency exchange is best done using an ATM. These are found all over Bangkok and you rarely have to wander far to find one, certainly in a tourist area. By withdrawing money from these you minimise the exchange rate charges (set at 2 per cent), and can access them 24 hours a day.
However, Thai banks also levy a 150 baht (US$5) fee per transaction, so it is worth taking out more rather than less. Usually there is a maximum withdrawal amount of 20,000 baht, which is more than enough for a few days of tourist activity here.
Money is also available over the counter from numerous exchange bureaux at bank branches, tourist centres and airports when in Bangkok. You will need to show proof of ID, but can draw as much as you like. The rate of transaction from a credit card is 3 per cent. Exchange rates are published and reckoned to be fair compared to the international rate on the day. The spread (between buying and selling) for travellers cheques and cash may be slightly less favourable. Private exchange services, such as at hotels or shops, offer a poor rate on cash and should only be used when desperate.
The Thai baht is exchanged in the range of about 30 to one US dollar, 40 for 1 Euro and 45-50 for a British pound. However, rates are likely to fluctuate as the baht continues to strengthen throughout 2012-2013, due to currency instability. Thailand is a cheap place and you can reckon on about 2,000 baht a day for food, drink and entry to tourist sites if you’re not on a budget, but even 500 baht would suffice. However, Bangkok (and Thailand in general) is very much a cash transaction country, so it’s worth stocking up on notes.
In Bangkok, money can disappear fast since there’s plenty of good value shopping and entertainment. While ATM machines dispense a wad of thousand baht notes, it’s a good idea to pop into a 7-Eleven and change these into smaller change. Thailand is a safe country on the whole so you needn’t worry about the risk of carrying lots of cash.
Credit cards are accepted in all main hotels and most proper restaurants and shops catering to tourists, although many insist on charging 3 per cent, which isn’t really allowed, but they can’t give discounts as easily when paying the VAT on their banked money.