How do people
Going to SE Asia for 10 weeks in September. I'll be in Thailand for 6 weeks, Laos for 2 weeks and Malaysia for 2 weeks with a few days in Singapore.
Not sure what to do Money wise. I dont particularly like the idea of taking all my cash with me, but have heard about travellers cheques? How does that work? I'd rather not use my card abroad because of charges. Any advice on whats best to do? Any other options?
I'm in the same position. I will be going in July.
To answer your question as best I can- a travellers cheque can be kept as a cheque until you want to transfer it to cash, to do this you must take the cheque and your passport to a designated place, they will be both be scanned and it will be swapped for cash. It is safe as it can't be used by anyone unless they have your passport and if its stolen and not cashed you can claim it back. Also, I'm not sure which country you are from but there are some banks that let you use your card abroad without being charged- I know Halifax offer this.
Hope it helps
Some very good advice here concerning travel money from travelfish
[ Edit: Edited on 20-Apr-2011, at 11:52 by Daawgon ]
Credit card? Just make sure you put some strict limits on it at your local bank to make sure you will not loose to much money in case you loose it...
I always have travelers checks for Thailand, in Thailand they even get a hair more in return than ordinary cash. I can get my travelers checks for free from my credit unions back home. There is a fee in Thailand to cash a travelers check which is 33 baht. To use a debit or credit card the fee is 150 baht per ATM use. For Thailand travelers checks are a good deal. For other countries the cost of cashing the TC does eat into the return and you may have to hunt around to find a place to take them. But with a travelers check you do have additional safety!
When you bring travelers checks with you only bring the largest denominations you can get to cut down on fees for small amounts. Same for ATM withdrawals, take out the maximum you can in Thailand to cut down on lots of big fees for small amounts withdrawn. I prefer to use cash for cheap purchases, especially in restaurants, to cut down on credit card fraud. Every time you use your credit card for a cheap purchase you expose your CC number to potential fraud.
Of all of the countries on your list Thailand is the best organized for changing money over to Thai baht. They use real banks and mini banks to change money over. There are bank money changers at the airport 24 hours a day. In Thailand, in areas popular with tourists, you will find bank money changers available 7 days a week up to around 8 or 9 pm. Other countries you may have to use private money changers, some of them a little shady at times.
If you do use a credit or debit card you must first notify your bank or credit union that you will be overseas and where you will be at. If a bank suddenly gets ATM withdrawal requests from a foreign country they first suspect fraud to protect your account!
In Laos they also use US dollars as a de facto currency. Do not leave Laos with their currency because it is very difficult to unload it in another country because no one wants it! When you leave Thailand by air you will have a chance to sell back any Thai baht at the airport 24 hours a day. Leaving overland your options are more limited. If you fly back to your country from Thailand just hold on to your baht until you return to Thailand again.
I use debit cards, cash and travelers checks but it depends on the country I am going to. For cash only bring the largest denominations so you don't have to use a bag to hold your stash. Bring currency that is not all dirty, old, torn, etc.
From the UK you will need a tourist visa to stay in Thailand for 6 weeks. You do get the free 30 day Visa Exemption stamp in your passport at the airport if you are coming in that way but that is not 6 weeks! Unless you intend to stay 30 days and then return to Thailand at another time for another couple weeks. Thailand will be cheaper than Singapore for just about everything!