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Leaving soon for thailand

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1. Posted by Matt19849 (Budding Member 33 posts) 7y

Matt19849 has indicated that this thread is about Thailand

Hi,

I'm of to thailand for a month with a mate of mine at the begining of april - i've just got a few questions that I'm really hoping someone here could help me with. Firstly i'm not sure how to take money out there - when I went to Australia I ended up paying out the nose for using ATM machines so I could really do with avoiding that this time. I was thinking about taking cash but I dont really want to loose it etc - how have others done it out there? Just take cash or use ATM's?
Also what are the hostels like out there do they have safes etc?
And finally are there any tips anyone could give us for when were out there? Were landing in Bangkok and heading down to Phuket to do quite a bit of diving, depending how the time goes we might go to Pattaya then back to Bangkok.

Cheers, Matt :)

2. Posted by KevinRB (Inactive 76 posts) 7y

Hi Matt

In terms of money, both the safest and easiest method IS the dreaded ATM machine, your typical charges will be between 2%-3% of the value you withdraw per transaction. I would recommend withdrawing larger amounts on fewer occasions as this is cheaper than lots of smaller withdrawals.

What you will also need to be mindful of is that the exchange rate you get whether by using an ATM machine or your credit card is always lower than from a bank, so expect that to cost you a further 3%.

The very best exchange rates you will get are always from:
1/ taking cash to a bank & doing an exchange there.
2/ cashing in travellers at the bank.

Regards

Kevin:)

3. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 459 posts) 7y

Ive found exchange rates thru ATM to be OK - about same or more than the exchanges.

For convenience it has to be ATM

some ban ks now do a "traveller's card" which you charge up before you go and has lower fees when used abroad.

TT's are a bit of a hassle but good for backup and safer than cash - you really don't want much of that - just maes you a target.

Check with your bank for fees and see if you can get a better deal elsewhere.
Let your bank know you are going abroad too!!!!

ATMs are everywhere in Thailand and the exchanges are run by the banks and govt regulated so you get a pretty much universal deal everywhere - there may be small variations from bank to bank.\

I used to buy cash with my card over the counter - you need your passport - that avoided getting my card swallowed by a machine.

4. Posted by KevinRB (Inactive 76 posts) 7y

Hi

The problems with the ATM's is nothing to do with the Thai bank that runs the machines, it is to do with what "charges" the UK bank / credit card company levy upon the user, plus the exchange rates that the UK card issuers use is typically not the same as you would get by exchanging cash in a Thai bank, it is typically 3% lower, so when you add it all up you are paying a 5%-6% premium for the privelege of using an ATM machine.

And as the GBP£ is already 20% lower than a year ago, it starts to make ALL exchanges expensive !!.

Kevin:)

5. Posted by Matt19849 (Budding Member 33 posts) 7y

So its looking like the ATM machine is the best way to go - nationwide used to do a 0% on withdraws from abroad not sure if they do that still though
How about travellers cheques they worth looking into out there?

Cheers for all your replies

6. Posted by KevinRB (Inactive 76 posts) 7y

Hi Matt

The ATM's are the easiest, if I were you, and if you are concerned about the security of your money then you should:

1/ keep a "float" of Thai baht
2/ keep some GBP£ sterling with you (as you can change at bank or exchange very easily without passport).
3/ take some travellers cheques - always a useful back-up
4/ use ATM's

That way you are not reliant on ANY individual method, and the risks of you being "wiped out" are much lower.

Regards

Kevin:)

7. Posted by 7055 (Budding Member 28 posts) 7y

As people mention, it is sensible to rely on multiple sources of access for your money. This limits your exposure to the unnerving situation of having no money in a foreign country. In my experiences ATM's are the best means, usually when possible, I always travel with two or three different cards with internet banking ready on each single one. If I lose a card, I can transfer* the funds over electronically to a different account. Apparently Nationwide have now ceased offering free ATM withdrawals internationally, however I heard that the Post Office offer this service so perhaps you should set up an account before you depart.

  • Just a warning, using internet cafes in Thailand can pose a security risk when internet banking. It's best to limit these transactions. Another good idea is opening Microsoft notepad, typing 1-9 and A-Z and then copying and pasting digits/letters for your password as opposed to typing it.
8. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 823 posts) 7y

I think your banking questions have been answered quite thoroughly so I won't bother getting into that. For the safe question, it's pretty rare to find a safe in your hotel room (or at least in places I can afford), but I've never had anything stolen in all my time in Thailand (or Asia in general). Of course this doesn't mean it can't happen as it surely does. Just use common sense and don't leave valuables in your room. Carry your passport and money with you at all times, preferable somewhere concealed under your clothes. Many hotels will have lockers or a safe at reception, and in my experience they are safe enough to leave your stuff when you are going to the beach, but it's always a risk. I like to carry my own pad lock with me which often fits on lockers and hotel doors, especially in cheaper places and beach bungalows.
My biggest concern for you though is why did you choose Phuket and Pattaya as your destinations? It's so rare that I hear of a couple 24 year old backpackers liking these places unless lady boys, high prices, and middle aged men in speedos is your thing. Sure, lots of people do enjoy these places, and Phuket remains the most popular destination in Thailand for a certain crowd, but I suspect that you will have a better time on one of the other Islands. Consider Koh Tao if your plan is to dive, Koh Phagnan if you want to party with people your age, or Koh Lanta if you just want to chill out. Phi Phi and Samui are also better bets than Phuket if you want an island with lots going on.

9. Posted by Matt19849 (Budding Member 33 posts) 7y

I guess the main reason we chose Puket was because of all the talk about it - were wanting to do a fair bit of diving out there and Phuket is meant to be in the top 10 destinations in the world. As for the island I suppose we don't really know too much about them - when we went to Australia we visited some islands on the barrier reef and there was literally one hut for a toilet and thats about it for day trips I guess thats what we thought the islands out there would be like. I certainly didn't realise that the islands had that much going on there and that you could spend more than a day on them.
We only have 4weeks out there a couple of days in Bangkok on arrival and when leaving other than that were just taking it as it comes. If you can suggest some places to go and times to spend there were definately pay them a visit - we've never been there so we don't have a clue what its like.

10. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 823 posts) 7y

Quoting Matt19849

I guess the main reason we chose Puket was because of all the talk about it - were wanting to do a fair bit of diving out there and Phuket is meant to be in the top 10 destinations in the world. As for the island I suppose we don't really know too much about them - when we went to Australia we visited some islands on the barrier reef and there was literally one hut for a toilet and thats about it for day trips I guess thats what we thought the islands out there would be like. I certainly didn't realise that the islands had that much going on there and that you could spend more than a day on them.
We only have 4weeks out there a couple of days in Bangkok on arrival and when leaving other than that were just taking it as it comes. If you can suggest some places to go and times to spend there were definately pay them a visit - we've never been there so we don't have a clue what its like.

Yeah, the islands have heaps going on, and is the main draw to Thailand for folks our age. But you are right, there is a lot of talk about Phuket. However, the reason for this is not necessarily because it's the best spot in Thailand. It's because it's is the longest running tourist destination and the most built up. If you read travel magazines or watch travel shows on Thailand it'll no doubt get mentioned as a world class destination. But keep in mind the audience - middle aged, slightly more wealthy Europeans, people on package holidays, and families that want all the amenities. Picture any popular tourist destination on the Mediterranean or Carribean and you'll get Phuket. Sure, you can have a lot of fun there, and do just about anything you want. Some people love it, and you'll find a few people on this forum that always recommend Phuket. For me though, after spending lots of time on other islands, when I finally made it the Phuket, I hated it and I'll probably never go back - as did the 7 other 20-something I was traveling with. I found it very expensive and crowded and not geared for people my age. I haven't been to Pattaya, but I've heard little good about it - basically a much seedier version of Phuket.

So the other Islands - there's heaps of them. Phuket and Pattaya are just two of about ten popular beach areas in Thailand (of course there's more, but these tend to be the most popular). A quick rundown on the rest:

Phi Phi - small beautiful Island just south of Phuket. Very popular spot for all age groups. It was pretty much wiped out during the Tsunami and I noticed a big difference between then and now. If want to go and have a really great time, have lots of diving, bars etc...this could be a great spot. It's a little too busy for my liking, but many love it.

Krabi - On the mainland near Phuket and Phi Phi. It's as beautiful as Phi Phi, but much more laid back and cheaper. It's famous for rock climbing

Lanta - South of Krabi, very laid back quiet and relaxing. Not the most attractive island, but it's a favorite for anyone who just wants to kick back with a beer and a sunset. On my last trip it was far and away my favorite island.

Samui - On the east coast, probably the second most built up island after Phuket. Not to my liking, but if you want a
good time, it does remain a very popular spot.

Phagnan - North of Samui. This is THE young backpacker party spot. Average age on the island is probably early 20's and you can party on the beach any night of the week (and especially at full moons) at Hat Rinn beach. It's a big enough island that there is also many quieter beaches as well.

Koh Tao - This is the diving mecca for the young budget minded traveler. It's small, laid back, but with enough going on for a good time. And it's one of the cheapest diving spots in the world.

Chang and Samet - Both close to Bangkok. I haven't been to these island and so I know little about them. But I hear great things.

So really all I'm saying is don't go to Phuket and Pattaya simply because you've heard of them. Thailand has so much more to offer, and if you do your research you'll find that there is probably another place that will suit you better. If budget is an issue, than definitely choose another spot. Phuket is one of the most expensive areas in the country.