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Thailand and China
Old 08-16-2015, 03:25 AM   #1
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Thailand and China

I'll be traveling to Thailand and China within 4 weeks. 9 days in Thailand mostly in Bangkok, couple days in Chiang Mai and might take a day trip to Cambodia. On the way home I will have a 21 hour layover in China. I'll land in Guangzhou and hope to visit Macau. I'll probably stay up the full time to take in as much as I can.

Questions: 1) When entering BKK should I exchange all my USD into Baht right at that moment or spread it out? I'll probably keep at least a bit in USD since Cambodia likes the USD. 2) When leaving BKK should I turn in all the Baht to USD or would it better to hold the Baht and exchange that into Yuan or Hong Kong Dollar when I land in China? Also which currency should I trade into? I plan on spending about 40% in Guangzhou and 60% in Macau. 3) If I change Baht to USD ~ I'm also considering just using a bank card for China ATMs instead. My bank offers 1% exchange rate fee and no other fees except local ATM fee. What are the average local ATM fees?
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Old 08-16-2015, 09:43 AM   #2
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We have spent time in Thailand for the past two winters. We never exchange money in any airport. The rates are usually terrible.


We buy a small amount of bhats at our local FX store prior to departure. We get the rest from ATMs in Thailand. Like you, our bank does not add a 3 percent fee on top of the exchange rate...we essentially get the currency at the spot rate. We have never had an ATM fee in Thailand because we actually do a cash advance on our Visa card. We load up the card with a positive balance and then draw down on it. Our cash advance fee is 1 percent.


We love Thailand...especially the south Koh Lanta, Koh Lipe, etc. Enjoy.
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Old 08-16-2015, 11:04 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by MrNickel View Post
Questions: 1) When entering BKK should I exchange all my USD into Baht right at that moment or spread it out? I'll probably keep at least a bit in USD since Cambodia likes the USD.

2) When leaving BKK should I turn in all the Baht to USD or would it better to hold the Baht and exchange that into Yuan or Hong Kong Dollar when I land in China? Also which currency should I trade into? I plan on spending about 40% in Guangzhou and 60% in Macau.

3) If I change Baht to USD ~ I'm also considering just using a bank card for China ATMs instead. My bank offers 1% exchange rate fee and no other fees except local ATM fee. What are the average local ATM fees?
#1. Want to predict exchange rate? The baht has been dropping against the dollar since April. On the other hand, the largest Thai bank not is 1000 baht or ~$28. Easier to carry larger amounts in dollars.

#2. I live in Thailand. I buy Euros or Dollars before traveling because even after 2 exchanges (baht -> euro -> local currency) it costs less than baht -> local currency at my destination.

#3. Thai Banks charge 150 - 180 baht ATM fee per transaction for foreign cards.
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Old 08-16-2015, 12:59 PM   #4
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The Schwab checking account works great for ATM withdrawals overseas, they reimburse all fees, never had any issues. I am careful in what ATM's I use, try to pick a safe location that's in or attached to a bank with security guards.
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Old 08-16-2015, 02:39 PM   #5
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Chinese Yuan can be used in Hon Kong and Macau. In Macau's casinos, the running money is Hong Kong dollars, not Macau dollars, which are worth slightly less than Hong Kong dollars, something like $1HK =~$1.03Macau, but you can use Hong Kong dollars in anywhere in Macau without any problem. However, Chinese Yuan is much more valuable (~125%). If you do not change your money into Hong Kong dollars, the Chinese Yuan will be accepted as 1:1 on Macua and Hong Kong streets (similar to US dollars in Mexico). However, you can exchange your money at any shops on the streets. The casinos have the worst exchange rates.
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Old 08-16-2015, 09:47 PM   #6
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If you are taking a taxi from the BKK airport into town then it will cost about 400-500 baht. It might be useful to have 1000 baht on hand when you arrive. The ATM rate is 180 baht per transaction to get cash from a credit card so obviously the fewer transactions the better. I found that carrying 10,000 baht will last you for many day's.

I was there 6 weeks ago.

It sounds like you are trying to do a lot in 9 days. I guess it depends on the type of travel you like to do. With the heat & humidity I found that I didn't want to be on the go all day long.

I decided not to spend a couple of days in Chiang Mai. Bangkok is plenty interesting and I don't know that spending 2 days in another Thai city is worth taking the travel time. When I return to Thailand I will reserve a week in Chiang Mai to see both the city and the surrounding countryside.
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Old 08-16-2015, 11:16 PM   #7
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Chinese Yuan can be used in Hon Kong and Macau. In Macau's casinos, the running money is Hong Kong dollars, not Macau dollars, which are worth slightly less than Hong Kong dollars, something like $1HK =~$1.03Macau, but you can use Hong Kong dollars in anywhere in Macau without any problem. However, Chinese Yuan is much more valuable (~125%). If you do not change your money into Hong Kong dollars, the Chinese Yuan will be accepted as 1:1 on Macua and Hong Kong streets (similar to US dollars in Mexico). However, you can exchange your money at any shops on the streets. The casinos have the worst exchange rates.

Should I change all USD to the Yuan? Then when I get to Macau trade Yuan to HKD? Then the same route back to USD before I leave?


Only three ways to get to other side of that hill: climb up, go around or dig through. I won't pretend it's not there.
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Old 08-16-2015, 11:21 PM   #8
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It sounds like you are trying to do a lot in 9 days. I guess it depends on the type of travel you like to do. With the heat & humidity I found that I didn't want to be on the go all day long.

This will be my 1st true international travel with the exception of as a young child. I don't see a whole lot of international travel in the next decade either. I've read that it is cheap there. I'm thinking $50/day should give me a decent time. Am I correct in that assumption?


Only three ways to get to other side of that hill: climb up, go around or dig through. I won't pretend it's not there.
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Old 08-17-2015, 01:17 AM   #9
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I lived for 2 years in Thailand in the 80s and have been back several times since, most recently in 2014. Chiangmai and environs is not to be missed, so I would encourage you to keep it in your itinerary. My view - 3 or 4 days is enough for Bangkok. Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is another must-see destination. There's nothing quite like it in the world.
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Old 08-17-2015, 01:58 AM   #10
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I usually follow this simple protocol:
  • Check if the airport has ATMs (any big airport has)
  • If so, take out just enough to last you 3x the expected taxi fare to the city centre (or hotel)
  • Get the rest of your money from a local non-airport ATM or international bank branch.


Never withdraw more than you expect to spend in your stay. On the last day aim to end up with a few cents / dollar worth (last meal in the airport works well for that), donate the left-over amount or keep it as a souvenir.


All that's left then is make sure you have a decent credit card / debit card which has friendly charges. Depending on the country (Hong Kong) you can actually go a long way with directly spending from your credit card, it may be cheaper even.



For small airports I follow the same protocol, only change a minimal amount of money at the outrageous local money changer (like 30 USD or so). Just enough to get transport out.
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Old 08-17-2015, 07:37 AM   #11
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I forgot about the Thai bank ATM charges. They deduct 150baht or so from the withdrawal.

We have seen ATMS at BKK but have never used them.
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Old 08-17-2015, 10:52 AM   #12
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I just read that there was a bomb that blasted off in Bangkok... I've been to Bangkok, but I may not want to now after this... It hit a Hindu shrine very close to The Grand Hyatt Hotel. 27 people so far have been reported to be killed from the blast.

Police seek active bomb near Bangkok explosion - CNN.com
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Old 08-17-2015, 12:01 PM   #13
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I just read that there was a bomb that blasted off in Bangkok... I've been to Bangkok, but I may not want to now after this... It hit a Hindu shrine very close to The Grand Hyatt Hotel. 27 people so far have been reported to be killed from the blast.

Police seek active bomb near Bangkok explosion - CNN.com

Saw that. My prayers are with the victims, their families, and the Thai people. Terrorists won't necessarily deter my travel plans. I'll increase awareness but I'll reserve assuming what happened until investigation. I've got a few weeks until lift off so that's ample time for developments.




Only three ways to get to other side of that hill: climb up, go around or dig through. I won't pretend it's not there.
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Old 08-18-2015, 10:29 AM   #14
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Saw that. My prayers are with the victims, their families, and the Thai people. Terrorists won't necessarily deter my travel plans. I'll increase awareness but I'll reserve assuming what happened until investigation. I've got a few weeks until lift off so that's ample time for developments.
Good for you. That's how I would handle it. I was at the Erawan Shrine about 6 weeks ago. There was also pipe bomb at the Chao Phraya Pier.

On a more positive note, I found a lot of useful information on the Bangkok.com website.
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