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Carrying CASH in Southeast Asia

Travel Forums Asia Carrying CASH in Southeast Asia

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1. Posted by TheLoungeLotus (Budding Member 10 posts) 4y

Hi there.

I am going to Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia starting mid-May of this year. Can you give me advice on how to carry cash in these countries?

I heard that having cash on you is the best bet cause most places don't really accept cards. But I feel a bit weird having a wad of money always on my person. Can people who have travelled speak about their experiences, please?

I plan on staying in hostels and guesthouses and I am not sure how secure they are. I only have a 65L backpack with me.

Thanks a bunch!

Sheila

2. Posted by CheersT (Travel Guru 2455 posts) 4y

Unless you're venturing way off the beaten path there are ATMs everywhere you're going to be. Get a card with low transaction fees and always do the maximum you're allowed to withdraw. No need to be stressing about protecting gobs of cash all the time.

Lastly, you say your backpack is "only" 65 litres... It's easy to hostel/hotel through SE Asia with a backpack half that size...

Have fun.

Cheers,
Terry

3. Posted by TheLoungeLotus (Budding Member 10 posts) 4y

Thanks, Terry. When I went to New Zealand I was able to take my bankcard with me and my credit union didn't charge me very much to take out cash. I didn't know it was just as easy to do in SEA.

Thanks for your advice!

Cheers

Sheila

4. Posted by Dodger (Inactive 875 posts) 4y

As has been said, there are plenty of ATM's in major cities and tourist areas, but you can find it difficult to find the right atm, or in remote areas any atms. So always keep an amount of cash. I keep a couple of hundred dollars US, in a secretish pocket in my backpack, as an emergency fund in case I loose the cash and cards I have on my person. US dollars are still the easiest to exchange on the black market for most other currency's.

5. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 4y

Sheila,
You might take a look at pac-safe. Most low cost rooms are not safe. You then have to decide to leave things in your room or carry your valuables with you as you shop, sightseeing, beach, etc. An under garmet pouch is a necessity IMO while you tour SEA. Good luck.

[ Edit: Edited on 07-May-2012, at 21:14 by vegasmike6 ]

6. Posted by Dodger (Inactive 875 posts) 4y

Quoting vegasmike6

Sheila,
You might take a look at pac-safe. Most low cost rooms are not safe. You then have to decide to leave things in your room or carry your valuables with you as you shop, sightseeing, beach, etc. An under garmet pouch is a necessity IMO while you tour SEA. Good luck.

Mike it might depend on your perspective of what is safe. If you take the number of people that stay in rooms in SEA and the number that are robbed, you are no less safe than if you were in a hotel room in Vegas.

As for the pac safe, sheesh nothing says in bigger words, "look Ive got something in this pack worth stealing"! Has to be the most ridiculous gimmick for travelers ever. Same with under garment pouches. Unless you only travel in air conditioned vehicles all around SEA, these are the most uncomfortable and inconvenient things ever, and only scream, "look this is where my money is!"

7. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 4y

Roger,
I am not going to pull up the stats, but Vegas rooms with a key card vs a SEA room with a traditional room key? I will let members decide what room is less likely to have theft. The whole idea of an under garmet pouch is that nobody can see it. My silk one is not uncomfortable to wear daily. You carry your valuables where you choose. I am just pointing out my choice. Let Sheila and TP members decide what is worth purchasing.

8. Posted by TheLoungeLotus (Budding Member 10 posts) 4y

Thanks everyone for your input.

I shall heed everyone's advice/recommendations!

Cheers,

Sheila

9. Posted by Dodger (Inactive 875 posts) 4y

Quoting vegasmike6

Roger,
I am not going to pull up the stats, but Vegas rooms with a key card vs a SEA room with a traditional room key? I will let members decide what room is less likely to have theft. The whole idea of an under garmet pouch is that nobody can see it. My silk one is not uncomfortable to wear daily. You carry your valuables where you choose. I am just pointing out my choice. Let Sheila and TP members decide what is worth purchasing.

Mike, you like many others that have never been to Asia seem to act under the impression that everyone in Asia is out to rob them. You having been to Asia should know better. On the whole I always feel a lot safer in Asia than any western country. I find Asians to be much more respectful of other peoples property and much more honorable. One time I lost my day bag containing my camera wallet and passport, off the back of my motorcycle, only to have a frantic Indian race up to me on his bike after chasing me for 5 miles to give me back the bag. This from a man that could have lived for a year on what was in the bag. Ive left my bags in shops and streets with never anything happening. Conversely Ive been robbed blind in western backpackers, or had numerous vehicles and houses broken into in the US. In my opinion tying your backpack up with chains and padlocks, and wearing under garment pouches, that believe me everyone can see, is not only pointless, but insulting to the residents of the country you are visiting.

Finally, you should never be traveling with anything that your not prepared to loose one way or another. Travel is about relaxing and enjoying the culture and sights, not about obsessively protecting and worrying about a few meaningless possessions.

10. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1652 posts) 4y

In Thailand it is easy to use travelers checks too. Other nearby countries not as easy but not impossible. In Thailand the fee to cash a travelers check is 33 baht. Only bring big denominations so you don't pay a big fee for small checks. In Thailand the fee to use most ATM's is 150 baht which makes the fee to use a travelers check cheap. Travelers checks in Thailand even get a hair more in exchange.

If you intend to use a debit or even a credit card notify your bank ahead of time. If you don't your ATM withdrawals may be suspected as being fraudulent. When I use an ATM I prefer to use an ATM during the hours the bank is open. That way if the card does not come back the bank clerks can get it back for you. A few hours after I use an ATM I use the internet to check my credit union checking account to see if the right amount came out. I don't use credit or debit cards for cheap purchases especially in restaurants because of potential fraudulent charges.

Don't leave Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos with their currency. It is hard to change it in another country because not everyone wants it.

When I travel I always record the serial numbers of my travelers checks and even my hundred dollar bills. That way if I have to make a police report out I can identify my cash and checks. You can write that information in an email that you send to yourself and save in a folder. That way anywhere you can access your emails you can retrieve those serial numbers if necessary.

I only stay in places that have safety boxes or safes. Most security boxes are too small to store laptops. If you are going to bring a computer - password protect it. Any addresses for banks and private data where you saved the passwords you might want to remove those saved passwords in case your computer is stolen.