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Travel Forums Asia Money Advice

1. Posted by sly262 (Budding Member 3 posts) 8y

Hello,

Im going travelling round South East Asia for 6 months but im not sure the best way of taking my money. I have roughly 4 grand saved up and im interested in people experiences of the best way to take money.....How much should i get changed into travellers cheques/US dollars etc etc etc etc......

Many Thanks

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 9, 2008, at 2:59 AM by sly262 ]

2. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 823 posts) 8y

I'm a firm believer in ATM debit cards. As long as you have and internationally recognized card (look on the back for PLUS or CIRRUS) they'll work in most ATM's around the region. Last time I was in Laos there still wasn't ATMs but I'm pretty sure those days are gone. Hopefully someone else with response with more info on that. But in most countries you'll be fine. Sometimes ATMs aren't the cheapest way to go, fees can be high and you usually by a few bucks per transaction. The the convenience of not having to carry cash or exchange checks outweighs the cost in my books. The best thing to do would be to ask around at a few banks at home to see who has the lowest fees for international withdrawls and open an account with them.

But, since ATMs sometimes don't work or can't be found, and cards can be lost, its always advisable to have some backup money in the form of TCs and a bit of cash. I would say out of 4000, take a 300-500 in cheques. Maybe take 100 in small notes in cash. If you do things like I do, chances are you'll spend all those cheques in your last weeks just to get rid of them, or will end up taking them back home. But no harm done, it's still good to have them just in case.

3. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1655 posts) 8y

Quoting sly262

Hello,

Im going travelling round South East Asia for 6 months but im not sure the best way of taking my money. I have roughly 4 grand saved up and im interested in people experiences of the best way to take money.....How much should i get changed into travellers cheques/US dollars etc etc etc etc......

Many Thanks

One of the best things that I did was to open up a checking account in a credit union back home. When I go on a trip they sell me travelers checks without any commission and when I use their debit card overseas they pay at least 5 of the ATM withdrawal fees. For Thailand that is at least five 10,000 baht per ATM withdrawals that I can do. After 5 free withdrawals overseas the ATM price is only $2 US. (No interest wit a debit card too!)

You might check out some of the financial institutions in your country to see if one offers commission free travelers checks and pays for your ATM fees overseas.

Before I go on a trip I move money from my bank account to my credit union account. Even when I am away from home I have automatic deposits into this credit union checking account that I can access when overseas. I take cash, travelers checks and my debit card with me on my trips. Except for Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos you won't need too much U.S. money. Thailand is the easiest country to change travelers checks in, there is a fee of 33 baht per check so only take the higher $100 or 100 euro amounts. You can change your Thai baht back to your currency when you leave for home or elsewhere at the airport. When overseas use the security boxes for safeguarding your cash and valuables. Have a credit card available for emergencies. Also, notify your bank or CU that you will be out of the country or the ATM will decline to pay out!

P.S. you might want to set up a PayPal type account or have a bank that you can use to pay bills that you may have when you are out of the country. When I am away I still have to pay my electricity bills, my telephone bills, etc. that come up when I am out of the country.

Good luck.

4. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 1993 posts) 8y

I just came back from Vietnam a week ago, and I agree with Degolasse. Debit cards work great since ATM's are so easy to find in SE Asia. MAKE SURE YOU INFORM YOUR BANK BEFORE YOU TRAVEL OF YOUR PLANS! I carried $70. in USD, but only really needed this when I paid for my e-visa at Than Son Nhat Airport. People keep saying that US dollars are convenient! - I agree, they're convenient, but it's also a way to overspend! For instance, Vietnam Airlines runs a minibus from downtown Hanoi to the airport for 25,000 VND or $2. ($2. is worth 32,000 VND approx.) Any time someone quoted me a price in dollars, I just said that I was paying in Dong.

The single problem I had with using a debit card was the fact that my bank has a daily $200. limit on ATM withdrawals regardless of whether it's in Vietnam or at home, and when I wanted more, I was refused. The problem was solved by pulling out a credit card, and getting a cash advance.

Before you go, inform your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans, and go online and check ATM locations (both Visa and Mastercard websites list worldwide locations).

[ Edit: Edited on Apr 11, 2008, at 10:55 PM by Daawgon ]