To use a Money Exchange or ATM in Thailand or Credit Card in Thailand
This is a question I see asked by a lot of travelers heading to Thailand, or do I exchange money before I leave, where I get there. Is it cheaper to exchange at the airport or get money out of ATM.
Below is my recommendation based on what I have learnt from travelling to Phuket and Bangkok twice a month.
You need to have cash on you before you leave the airport.
Phuket especially is very much a cash society. Many restaurant and even large stores such as Makro the main cash and carry in Phuket only accepts cash or Thailand credit cards.
Bangkok if your catching a taxi they will only take cash. The problem is they only usually get 1,000 baht bills from the ATM. Your fare is usually less than 500 Baht and they don’t have change for 1,000 bills. Use the money exchange and ask for some small bills. Also there are several toll roads in Bangkok heading from the Airport to the main city centre. Depending on traffic this can take 40 mins on a very good day to well over an hour. There is usually at least two toll gates that cost around 30 or 50 Baht. The driver will usually turn to you and ask for cash to pay. You can request them to pay and add to your bill so you only pay at the end.
At both Bangkok and Phuket International Airports you can easily withdraw money at the ATM.
In Phuket there are a few machines once you clear customs on the top floor before you go down the escalators to the baggage claim, they are right next to the Money changes. There are money changes before you go through customs. My preference is to clear customs first as there can be very long queues. Then change money after customs or downstairs next to the baggage claim. Then hopefully you baggage will be through and you can leave the airport.
Bangkok The money machines are once you clear customs, claim baggage and go through final bag check. In the arrivals area which can be a bit of bedlam with loads of people.
Best rates are actually using the Money exchanges. So if you can carry some cash with you to exchange when your land would definitely be my recommendation
ATM – maximum withdrawal is usually 20,000 BHT = 450 GBP/ 640 USD /839 SGD/812 AUD
Money exchanges will usually charge no fee but with a slightly lower exchange rate.
Last week when I checked it was nearly 30 dollars better to do a money exchange rather than ATM
Also interesting paying on my Singapore visa, where it was accepted was actually the same as the money exchange rates. Just checked what they had charged my credit card and was still cheaper that getting it out of the ATM.

Also final tip, the ATM will issue the money first, then receipt and then you need to push a button for it to release your card.  The opposite of most other countries where the card is release then the cash, hence at least 3 times i have grabbed my cash and receipt and walked away leaving my card in the machine.  Luckily every time someone else has noticed and actually alerted me that the card was still in the ATM.

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