I got a recent question regarding a bank account being opened by a foreigner. Here is my situation and what I had to do:
Assuming you are American (because I cannot speak for other coutries) the answer to your question is "YES, You can open an account in Thailand."
I had to find a bank here to cater to my project funding, but since I am not here on a work permit, I was forced to open a SAVINGS ACCOUNT.
The only bank that will do this is BANGKOK BANK. You will have to open this type of account only if you are here in a tourist visa. You will only need your passport and a physical Thai address (use anyone you trust as your statements will go there). The bank is a huge banking entity in Thailand, and they also have a branch in NYC, among other global branches.
You will have to go to the main branch in Bangkok on Silom Road. Unfortunately you cannot take the SkyTrain directly there, so you will have to take a taxi. Ask to speak to an English-speaking rep if calling their office. They are most helpful and welcoming. Not like banking in the US.
333 Silom Road
Bang Rak Bang Rak
Tel : 0-2231-4333
Call +662 231 4333 if from outside Thailand
Bangkok bank has not only ATMs all over the place, they also have ATM machines where you put in your passbook savings book and it updates it in the machine. Thailand has the most convenient banking services I've ever experienced.
They also will give you, before you leave the bank after opening the account, a VISA/ATM card to use as a Debit Card (for VISA purchases) and as an ATM card.
You can open an account with any bank in Thailand. You need to be on a Non-immigrant visa of some kind. You also need to get a form from the local immigation giving you permission to do this. Just go in an they will give you the form and help you to fill it in. Then take the form, passport, money etc to the bank and Bob's your uncle.
I have an arrangement with my bank at home that enables me to transfer funds to Thailand at a moments notice too.
All banks have ATMs and pass books...if you're going abroad from Thailand make sure your ATM is actiated to work abroad.
Some banks don'teven seem to adhere to these regulations too stringently...just go in and ask. They may just say yes and open one up there and then.
I would not open a bank account in a country, where foreigners are discriminated. Contrary to the Thais, foreigners get less or no interests e.g. on a saving book. That means our money is worth less than the locals' !?
Bangkok Bank is the easiests to open an account, but then, if you withdraw money from one of THEIR ATMs outside BKK, they still charge you commission on your own money.
Get travellers' cheques instead or open an account at Citibank in your own country. Than you can get any amount from your home countrie`s account at Citibank's BKK Branch in Bath without any commission.
In most circumstancces foreigners do not get interest on bank accounts in Thailand. however this is not always the case.
I have 2 bank A/Cs in nThailand. I have one A/C before I moved here as it proved very convenient, I do not get charged for using ATMs and have a Visa debit card.
I never use travellers cheques as that locks me into one exchange rate until I've spent them, it also requires that I find somewhere to cash them. A friend of mine was actually refused in Pattaya once.
If you are visiting for a short while, find out what your bank at home charges for overseas ATM withdrawals...some banks are FREE! With redit cards and ATMs you often get a better rate of excchange, and don't have to run arounnd trying to change trevellers cheques all the time.