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Carrying cash

  • mattocmd

    Joined Travelfish
    13th June, 2007
    Location United States
    Posts: 365

    Hello,

    I am in the US at the moment and I fly to Thailand in a few weeks. I have about $2000 US worth of Korean won. I did my research and decided it would be best to carry the won to Thailand and convert it directly into baht. This avoids getting screwed twice.

    This will leave me with a large sum of baht and I don't know what to do. I would really hate to carry that much around but I think I am stuck. I will be in Thailand for about two months and will spend all of this money but I would be nervous carrying it on me and leaving it at the guesthouses.

    Do I have any options? Could I open a bank account? Are there travelers checks in baht? Someone please help! Thanks!

    #1 Posted: 18/12/2008 - 03:49

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  • travelrock

    Joined Travelfish
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    Put half in your wallet and half in the room safe. Dont see the problem.

    #2 Posted: 18/12/2008 - 08:10

  • somtam2000

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    Some banks may let you open an account, Kasikorn Bank can be a good choice, but they're more frequently asking for a work permit now, so you may have to try a few branches.

    You could always buy travellers cheques once you're in Thailand -- while they'll be in USD, you'll probably get a better rate.

    $2000 US will come out at between 60 & 70,000B, so in 1,000 notes, it will be quite a wad -- I'm not up on Korean won -- if it's fewer notes, then perhaps exchange in chunks so that you're less loaded down with cash.

    #3 Posted: 18/12/2008 - 08:33

  • mattocmd

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United States
    Posts: 365

    It's quite a wad as won but less so as baht. The largest won note is currently worth less than $7.

    I don't know if I will be staying in places with safes, I had planned on roughing it.

    I guess I can just hide most of the cash in my rooms. Are stories about people breaking into the rooms of seedy establishments common? Maybe I am being paranoid, but hey $1000 is more than a month in paradise!

    #4 Posted: 18/12/2008 - 11:02

  • jyates

    Joined Travelfish
    2nd December, 2008
    Posts: 7

    Hi All,

    I'm going to be crossing from Langkawi to Ko Lipe by ferry soon, and wanted to know where I can get some Thai Baht from in advance as Lipe doesn't have a cash point. I'll have been travelling from Singapore to KL, to Alor Setar. Can I bring USD and change in KL for Baht, or bring my card to get out ringgits to change in KL for Baht? Any useful tips?

    Cheers!

    #5 Posted: 18/12/2008 - 19:15

  • Jon_Mak_Mak

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    To the original poster - I would change it in Thailand and see if you can get travellers cheques.

    To jyates - try posting your question in a new thread with a title and you might get more responce.

    :)

    #6 Posted: 18/12/2008 - 20:09

  • thaiyaikit

    Joined Travelfish
    20th September, 2008
    Posts: 32

    My suggestion is to do what the Thais do, buy gold ingots from a reputable gold shop and sell them back when you need cash. Much easier to carry and hide about your person and no commission charges on travelers cheques.

    #7 Posted: 25/12/2008 - 12:55

  • sirhalberd

    Joined Travelfish
    30th December, 2007
    Posts: 295

    When you change your money over to Thai baht only get the 1000 baht notes. This way you will have a smaller stack of bills to store.

    Next, stay in hotels that have safety boxes. Put your excess cash in that safety box and only take some out when necessary.

    If you are staying in places where they keep everyone's money in the same safe you might want to invest in one of these night deposit type lockable bags. The bag won't stop anyone from stealing your cash from the safe but you will know when your money was stolen because they have to cut the bag to get in. Sample link: http://www.bankbags.com/night_deposit_bags.html

    I have used a smaller version of this lockable bag about 9.5X5.5 for years. When the cheap hotel gives me an envelope I shove the whole locked bag in it. I don't like to advertise that I have any cash! The bag is large enough to store other stuff too!

    In your hotel room if you have guests staying over never leave your wallet, passport or other valuables out in plain sight! I lock my wallet up in one of my bags. I keep a combination lock on that bag too so I don't have to fumble with so many keys!

    Up to you, stay in hotels that have security boxes solves most of your problems!

    Good luck and a Happy New Year too!

    #8 Posted: 26/12/2008 - 03:23

  • mattocmd

    Joined Travelfish
    13th June, 2007
    Location United States
    Posts: 365

    Hello Everyone

    Thanks for all the tips. Since this is Korean won I am dealing with it is a tough decision.

    I want to avoid having to convert it at a bank twice. Korean won to Baht once is bad enough (the rates in Bangkok are poor in my opinion) its not like USD, or Euros, or even Yen. They dont give good rates for currencies like the Korean Won.

    Since its slightly less than $2000, I will just transfer it to Baht when I get to Bangkok and carry it with me.

    Here is how. I bought a leather rectangular pouch wallet. It has a loop on it that goes around a belt and inside the pants. I will just carry it all in there and keep my days spending cash in my regular wallet.

    But thanks for all the advice. I am headed to Bangkok next week and have January to travel before my TEFL class in Febuary in Koh Samui. I think I will do most of it in Cambodia with an intinerary similar to the "one month adventure" travelfish suggestion.

    Happy travels to all!!!

    #9 Posted: 26/12/2008 - 12:02

  • JohnnyCash

    Joined Travelfish
    27th December, 2008
    Posts: 11

    Open a bank account take ur passport to open it. Then make an atm card cost you 100 Baht and you are safe.
    Simple answer.Before you leave thailand withdraw the full amount.
    The best bank Kasikornbank.com
    Cheers

    #10 Posted: 27/12/2008 - 14:46

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  • brucemoon

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    mattocmd

    Another option is to lodge the Won into your credit card account and just use your credit card in Thailand.

    Also, investigate any restrictions the Thai's have about limits on foreign currency carried into Thailand (you may get a surprise).

    Another option is to deposit it into one of those cash/debit cards. I often use this type of option. I withdraw from ATM in large amounts (approx US$500) and it costs me $2.50 & 2%. To me, that price for 'security' is comforting.

    #11 Posted: 27/12/2008 - 16:15

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    you know, having too much money with me when i arrived in thailand was never a problem i had to worry about, and having too much when i left even more the case.

    even so, for clarification, here is what the Thai Consulate in Los Angeles website says about currency regulations when entering/leaving Thailand. it looks like matt has nothing to worry about. it is:

    CURRENCY

    A. Persons can freely bring on any amount of Thai or Foreign currency into Thailand.

    B. Persons can freely take out any amount of foreign currency. Persons traveling to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam can take up to 500,000 Baht. Persons traveling to other countries may take out up to 50,000 Baht.

    see the info for yourself at this link:

    http://www.thai-la.net/etc/customs.htm

    i thought bruce's idea of putting the won onto a prepaid card was a really good one. that might be the least complicated option and the fees involved would probably be no more than regular transaction fees. but with two months to spend in Thailand, having a local bank account with an ATM card makes sense too.

    cheers

    #12 Posted: 27/12/2008 - 23:20

  • mattocmd

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United States
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    Can I use baht to buy a prepaid card or does it have to be USD?

    #13 Posted: 27/12/2008 - 23:24

  • exacto

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    I guess I was thinking you'd buy the won-denominated prepaid card in Korea before you left. Sorry, don't know about the Baht prepaid card options. I looked on the Bangkok Bank website but couldn't find any specific information. Hopefully someone else has personal experience with this and can recommend something.

    The Bangkok Bank website did have details on applying for a local bank account as a foreign student. You'd need to have a letter of reference from the school where you'll be studying on Samui (or from your bank back home) to open an account. Once you had it set up, you could get their debit card, which also works as an ATM card too and Bangkok Bank has ATMs everywhere.

    But all that is kind of a pain to get set up and don't know if that is worth it for you or not.

    By the way, do you have a 60-day visa or how are you working that? Cheers.

    #14 Posted: 28/12/2008 - 00:14

  • mattocmd

    Joined Travelfish
    13th June, 2007
    Location United States
    Posts: 365

    Exacto,

    Thanks for looking into all of that for me. I could probably get that reference letter, or I could just take my chances with a money belt (and have spare credit cards). I don't know, I guess I have to think it over.

    As far as the visa situation, I was going to get it in Phnom Pehn. I arrive in Bangkok on Friday and will meet my friend. I'll spend about 6 days with her in Thailand then do Cambodia alone for a month then head to Koh Samui for that TEFL class (starts Feb 9). Do you see any issues with this plan?

    #15 Posted: 28/12/2008 - 00:46

  • mattocmd

    Joined Travelfish
    13th June, 2007
    Location United States
    Posts: 365

    Otherwise I live pretty close to DC and could take a trip to the Thai embassy and get the tourist visa.

    Could I enter Thailand with that 60 day visa but not use for those six days unstead use the VOA for those and the 60day one when I reenter thailand after being in Cambodia?

    #16 Posted: 28/12/2008 - 00:49

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    hey matt,

    i've got a 2-month trip to thailand planned for next year, so i was kind of curious myself on what options i might have for opening a local bank account. it is always fun to see what others are doing while i plan for my next trip.

    when i lived in bangkok i had a local baht-denominated account. it was a convenient way to get a few baht from the ATM in my building when i needed it from time to time.

    as far as your visa goes, that sounds great to me. i'd probably either apply for a thai tourist visa while i was in phnom penh, like you are doing, or just try for a 30-day visa on arrival when i crossed back into thailand. but the risk and the down side on that second option is that you might only get 15 days instead of 30. either way, i imagine you could fairly easily apply for an extension once you are on samui taking your class.

    one other thing that you might want to consider is that since the u.s. dollar is the primary currency in cambodia, exchanging some or all of your korean money while you are in the states for u.s. dollars and then spend those dollars in cambodia. that way you are only eating the exchange rate loss once, buying dollars. the last time i was in cambodia i withdrew u.s. dollars from the ANZ bank ATMs without any service charges too (although odds are that has changed). anyway, just one more suggestion to add to the many. have fun.

    #17 Posted: 28/12/2008 - 02:44

  • mattocmd

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location United States
    Posts: 365

    Exacto,

    You make a good point about just getting the US dollar here for Cambodia. I did the math anyway and Bank of America takes a 7.7% cut of my money and Bangkok Bank would take a 13.5% cut. I have to double check my math but it seems it would be more economical to just change it over here and as you said, use it in Cambodia.

    Silly me for thinking Bangkok would provide better rates than the USA for the won.

    I still have to double check the sell rates I found on the bank...but this might just save me a couple hundred.

    #18 Posted: 28/12/2008 - 06:31

  • mattocmd

    Joined Travelfish
    13th June, 2007
    Location United States
    Posts: 365

    Exacto thanks again for all your help. If it were more than 3-4 grand I would open the bank account but with current rates ill get slightly less than $2000.

    I will just carry $500 of it with me to Cambodia and the remainder ill stick in my ATM account.

    Now I see that I wont get any more on Thailand than I will get here for my won. I wondered if banks in Cambodia distribute small bills in exchange for twenties. Also, do you know what the credit card situation is like in Cambodia?? Outside of the major cities.

    #19 Posted: 28/12/2008 - 07:04

  • brucemoon

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    mattocmd

    I suggest you need to rethink your bank arrangements.

    A bank taking 7.7% or 13.5% is ludicrous.

    Here in Australia, most banks offer a cash/debit card arrangement wherein money going in is 'no charge'. Money going out is a flat fee per transaction (from A$2 to 5) and the Visa or Mastercard rate. Most banks here use Visa. Visa charge 2+1/2% on the daily market 'cash' rate. Though over the past few months, Visa have been doing the usual American crap thing of looking after themselves and 'posting' a market 'cash' rate that is about 1% advantage to them.

    The net result is that the transaction 'costs' about 4% MAX using readily available resources.

    If I choose a smaller bank, I can whittle that down to about 2% (overall) per transaction.

    What is it about corporate America. They think they have the 'best' product, are somehow morally above everybody else, and can do as they like when it suits them - and when things go wrong (as they are now) they resort to some obscure fine print clause to justify their greed?

    #20 Posted: 28/12/2008 - 08:18

  • mattocmd

    Joined Travelfish
    13th June, 2007
    Location United States
    Posts: 365

    Bruce - I appreciate your advice but what I am talking about is exchanging Korean won into US dollars in the USA vs. Korean Won into Thai Baht in Thailand.

    My figures were based on what the banks pay vs. the mid market rate.

    Sigh...A 3-5% surcharge I could understand but the Won isn't a major currency like the USD, Yen or Euro so im kinda stuck.

    #21 Posted: 28/12/2008 - 11:12

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    hey bruce. adjust the dose.

    matt, i don't think i ever paid with a credit card in cambodia, so can't be of much help there. i'd expect that if you paid with a credit card they'll tack on a 3-4% surcharge to pass along whatever bank charges they suffer. given profit margins for most businesses there, that's only fair.

    anyway, you'll typically get us dollars in change for purchases, so change isn't a huge problem for $20s. often times, if the change due is a small amount, you'll be given riel instead, which is handy to have for small purchases, tips, etc.

    for our cambodia trip we were really glad that we travelled with a large amount of $1's, something like 100 each, to pay for smaller purchases. plus, the money can get pretty ratty in cambodia so it is nice to have some that isn't quite so disgusting. cheers.

    #22 Posted: 28/12/2008 - 12:06

  • brucemoon

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    Matt

    I used both a credit & debit card in Cambodia.

    ANZ (Cambodia) charged US$4 to use its ATM to withdraw. Vendors (hotels) accepted credit card.

    The 'fee' I was referring to was what Australian banks charge from their end.

    Cafe's & small retailers want cash (even travel agencies wanted cash).

    I found that 4 Reil to 1US$ was 'standard'. And, that transactions were undertaken in US$, but change below 1$US was given in Reil. So, from a US$10 note for a US$7.50 transaction, I'd get 2US$ and 500 Reil change.

    Also, vendors are still asking exhorbitant prices, but you can easily reduce by half (what they ask) and they are still happy with that.

    cheers

    #23 Posted: 28/12/2008 - 13:57

  • marjolijnc

    Joined Travelfish
    5th February, 2007
    Posts: 6

    What to choose? dollar or euro in Cambodia? Smallest eurobill is 5 Euro, is that to big?

    #24 Posted: 5/11/2009 - 16:18

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