Photo: Temple outside Monywa.

Burma forum

Where to get Pristine dollars in Bangkok

Posted by Donman1990 on 28/3/2013 at 06:47

Has anyone had any experience I getting Pristine US dollars in Bangkok? If so where did you get them? Did you exchange Thai baht or can you use a card to make withdrawals? I'll be in Bangkok for Songkran , I'm hoping to fly out on the 20th to Yangoon so I'll need to get cash around the 18th or 19th!

#1 Donman1990 has been a member since 7/4/2012. Posts: 34

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Posted by daawgon on 29/3/2013 at 13:24

Hell, it's hard enough to get pristine bills in the USA! Maybe if you go to a large international bank such as HSBC or Citibank - they normally have branches in the major SEA cities. I would think your chances of pristine would be a great deal better if you deal in C bills ($100. notes).

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Posted by Geer1 on 29/3/2013 at 14:44

You should be able to get them from banks and can do so by exchanging baht or withdrawing using a debit or credit card. If a bill isn't in good enough condition ask for a different one, they deal with a lot more US money then some might expect(most travellers bring US and then exchange it on arrival).

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Posted by KirstyB on 30/3/2013 at 12:02

@Donman1990 ... cutting through the spam here to answer your question! ... for pristine dollars in Bangkok check out branches of Superrich
In my experience regular banks in Thailand are not willing/able to exchange baht for dollars unless you have a bank account with them. Superrich have a branch on Khao San Road but they don't always have pristine dollars; I have also had luck with other money changers in that area but it really depends on what they have at the time. Your most reliable bet is at their main branches behind Central World / Big C near Siam and Chid Lom BTS's. They are closed on Sundays which doesn't look like it'll affect your plans but I would check if they are closed over Songkran. When I use them I take baht from the ATM and exchange that although it does say they except credit cards (at a cost of course!). Another option which is not so helfpul now Air Asia have switched to Don Muang airport but if you're flying out of Suvarnabhumi airport there's an ATM airside which dispenses (perfect) US dollars from an international card.

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Posted by kraghavan on 30/3/2013 at 17:36

Not sure about DM airport as AirAsia was still operating out of Suvarnabhumi when I last went to Myanmar, but the travel exchanges in Suvarnabhumi are used to people going to Myanmar and seem to keep a pretty large reserve of new bills on hand just for this purpose. I was traveling with a friend and we collectively changed around $2000 in Thai baht and got all brand new bills when we said we were going to Myanmar, and most people I knew who flew to Myanmar out of Bangkok had no problems changing money at the airport. It was actually much harder finding a bank with adequate reserves of new US bills in the city for those who tried.

In theory, it is also now possible (as of December 2012) to use Visa and MasterCard cards to withdraw from certain ATMs in the country, though you should probably not depend completely on doing so since the technology is fairly new and I think they're ironing out a lot of the kinks.

#5 kraghavan has been a member since 30/3/2013. Posts: 1

Posted by Donman1990 on 31/3/2013 at 08:48

Is it possible to go to suvarnabhumi and use the travel agents without actually flying from there? As like KirstyB said Air asia no longer fly from there. Ornate the exchanges past the public area and customs etc. ?

#6 Donman1990 has been a member since 7/4/2012. Posts: 34

Posted by mareeS on 1/4/2013 at 02:36

Try airport ATMs. Every airport in Asia seems to spit out clean $US in 50s. Otherwise, if you're going to Burma, use your Visa or Mcard at the airport and withdraw kyat. It's not a problem now. You can also exchange Euros and Singapore dollars quite easily in Burma at the airport currency exchange and at many hotels, and it is now becoming easier to use Mastercard and Visa. Speaking as of February 2013.

#7 mareeS has been a member since 8/12/2012. Posts: 13

Posted by TheLeapingLemur on 28/4/2013 at 22:17

Changed THB to US$ at the airport before flying to Yangon. As soon as we mentioned where we were headed, the lady fetched brand-new bills. Changed about $1500 and no issues at all.

#8 TheLeapingLemur has been a member since 20/11/2012. Posts: 13

Posted by lorevanlommel on 2/12/2013 at 10:06

For the ones still searching: we found the right dollars today in a branch of Bangkok bank, located at the MRT station Hua Lamphong, next to the train station. They get the question often, they instantly knew what we ment and we got the dollars using a creditcard, but you could also exchange Baht. Good luck!

#9 lorevanlommel has been a member since 2/12/2013. Posts: 1

Posted by Donman1990 on 15/12/2013 at 18:58

Just an update on this from my own personal experience.

I was simply able to walk into Siam Commercial bank and exchange my Thai baht for pristine US dollars. The teller knew exactly what I wanted, and there was no issue at all with the 40 000 baht that I ended up exchanging. From memory, you can directly withdraw money from the bank as well if you have the correct card, mine wasn't able to do this though so i ended up doing multiple ATM withdrawals outside the bank.. Whilst I only tried the one bank, I'd be fairly confident in saying that most major banks in Bangkok will be able to do this.

On a side note, whilst you still need Pristine dollars for a number of things...Most accomdation will still request Us dollars, and any kind of government fee will still be Pristine Us dollars. There is no the ability to withdraw Kyat from a number of places across the country. I mistakenly took out quite a large amount of Kyat at the start of my trip there and hardly touched my US dollars...whoops!

I'm not sure what the exchange rate is with the ATM's in regards to if you'd get a better deal from street vendors, but it's a lot less hassle.

#10 Donman1990 has been a member since 7/4/2012. Posts: 34

Posted by andykaz on 25/5/2014 at 00:29

Hi all,
Just wanted to check if anyone has an update about getting US$ in Bangkok. We will be travelling for about 5 weeks in Cambodia and Laos before we go on to Burma. As we are travelling from Australia we do not want to carry around a large wad of US $. We thought if not a hassle we would stop off in Bangkok on the way to pick up our $'s.

#11 andykaz has been a member since 24/5/2014. Posts: 2

Posted by Donman1990 on 26/5/2014 at 18:47

I'm unsure as to how much would have changed in a year, but I can definitely say that the Siam commercial bank easily offered me pristine dollars in exchange for Baht. I'd be surprised if most the major banks in Bangkok couldn't provide this service.

Frankly, you could also get US dollars easily enough in Laos and Cambodia, at least in major cities. Probably not as easy to ensure they are fairly pristine. Not sure if that is still being largely enforced in Myanmar though, I definitely had notes rejected when I was there, most of which I'd actually been given as change within the country haha

#12 Donman1990 has been a member since 7/4/2012. Posts: 34

Posted by redpirate427 on 4/9/2014 at 22:14

Hi Andykaz, I'm not sure if this information gets to you in time, but we are currently in Bagan , and here are some things about currency exchange and costs we have learned while here:

>we exchanged our leftover baht to crisp US dollars at the FOREX counter in Don Mueang Airport. Just tell them you are going to Myanmar and would want pristine bills. The rate as of Aug 2014 was about THB31 to US$1

>we were able to get kyats at the Yangon airport for about 950K to a US dollar, but only because other kiosks were already closed. We saw they were exchanging kyat for a bit higher rate, although we saw a much higher exchange rate (about K968 per USD1 for bills US$50-100, lower rate for lower denomination bills) at the Shwedagon Pagoda.

>sometimes it's best to hold on to US$ bills as prices in kyat are often rounded off to US$1 = 1,000kyats. This is our case now in Bagan. For every 10,000 kyats we pay, we lose about 500kyats. So for the 600,000kyats we spent, the total amount we lost to exchange was about 30,000 kyats (US$30). This is on top of the ATM fees we paid while withdrawing local currency from a VISA debit card. One time withdrawal of 200,000kyat was charged 5,000 kyats. But you can withdraw up to 300,000 (as far as it applied to KBZ ATMs)

>for Euro holders, it might be best to exchange them to USD. the entrance fee to Bagan was quoted as either '15USD or 15 Euros'

>there are a couple of ATMs here in Nyaung U (Aya and CB bank) but we yet have to try their machines

>All rates are from August - Sept 2014

Hope this information helps you and anyone who might be planning to come here soon. It's low season and we pretty much have most temples to ourselves, save for the more popular sunrise/sunset sites.

#13 redpirate427 has been a member since 2/6/2014. Posts: 11

Posted by andykaz on 5/9/2014 at 00:41

Hi Redpirate, Thanks for your reply. We have changed our plans since I posted last and now are going Myanmar first. Believe it or not today we got our US$. After reading your reply am now happy that we got a lot of small denominations.
Hope you are enjoying your trip and I must say I am getting very excited. We will be there next month. Again thanks.

#14 andykaz has been a member since 24/5/2014. Posts: 2

Posted by fondo on 7/9/2014 at 06:32

I've just flown out of Yangon this morning after three weeks in Myanmar. Everything redpirate says is on the money - so to speak.

Things change rapidly, and the money scene really had little relation to what we had been told, apart from the fact that USD must be pristine. There are ATMs all over and quite a lot of shops now take credit cards without any extra charges.

I took large USD - I just had 100s - converted into MMK and used that currency wherever possible. Nobody ever insisted on payment in USD.

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