Is it better to buy Thai Bahts in India if you are traveling to Thailand?

by Manshu on May 5, 2015

in Personal Finance

I recently went on a short holiday to Bangkok and I was wondering if it’s better to convert INR to Thai Baht in India itself, or does it make sense to buy THB once in Bangkok.

Based on my research – I decided to buy USD in India, and then use that to buy THB once in Bangkok.

The factors that made me go with this option are as follows:

  1. The first thing I did was to look for what rate I was getting on THB in India itself, and the best rate I found was 100THB for Rs. 203.25. Quick calculation and some guess work seemed to indicate that this is worse than what you can get from buying USD in India and then converting that to THB in Bangkok.
  2. Money changers are ubiquitous in Bangkok and it seemed very likely that the USD to THB rate that you can get in Bangkok would be much better than the INR to THB rate you would get in India.
  3. You can shop around for a good rate to buy Dollars in India, specially cities like Hyderabad, but you may not get that much of an opportunity to do that once in Bangkok. For instance, I was able to buy dollars at a rate of Rs. 64.4 to a dollar in Hyderabad.
  4. It wasn’t clear to me how much THB I’d actually need in Bangkok and they charge a fee to convert it back to USD, which would be a complete waste, and it would be ideal if you converted only that amount which is close to what you plan to spend.

Eventually, I got the following two rates to get from INR to THB. The first one was Rs. 64.40 to a Dollar which I got in Hyderabad by using BookMyForex and 32.55 THB to a Dollar which I got at Super Rich at a mall in Bangkok.

The rate that I was getting in India to convert INR directly to THB was 100 THB for Rs.203.25 and the effective rate that I got by buying USD in India and THB in Bangkok was 100 THB to Rs. 197.84, so that shows you that the best idea is to buy USD in India, and then use those USD to  buy THB in Bangkok.

The table below gives you a comparison.

Transaction Exchange Rate
Buy THB in India using INR 100 THB = Rs. 203.25
Buy THB in Bangkok using INR Not a viable option
Buy USD in India and THB in Bangkok (64.40 Rupees to a Dollar and then 32.55 THB to a Dollar) 100 THB = Rs. 197.84

Other things to Consider

You have to pay 1,000 THB as visa fee upon arrival in Thailand and this fee has to be paid in Thai Bahts itself. This is quite an annoying thing as the last thing you want to do after a long flight is to find a currency exchange and change money. However, as annoying as it might be, it is not very hard. You can find money changers before you get in the immigration queue and change a small amount to cover the visa fee and taxi because you will get a better rate once you are outside the airport.

Also, keep in mind that they need you to have a passport photograph to staple on your application, and take that with you or you will have to cough up a ridiculous amount to get that photo.

The last thing I want to point out is that although people told me you could buy THB in INR in Bangkok, I couldn’t see such money changers myself, and I would certainly not recommend that option to anyone. If you are traveling abroad, it is better to change INR to USD at home itself, and not fall into a situation where you have to a pay a ridiculous amount to buy local currency in INR.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

piyush modi May 6, 2015 at 3:48 AM

Can i suggest a better alternative. Just use your debit card to withdraw directly from any ATM the exact amount of THB or any currency you want.

Debit card should be international, and have a international withdrawals enabled.

The bank will charge about a 2.5-3% markup. This would compare with what you’d have to pay if you first bought dollars and then THB from those dollars. The cost would be similar, conveniance much more. Directly buying dollars, or GBP, AUD, Eur, JPY is much better in India cause that would be cheaper as you would convert only once.

Reply

Manshu May 6, 2015 at 8:44 AM

Thanks for the suggestion Piyush. So, if I’m in say Bangkok or Singapore and I have a Citibank debit card, will this method only work on Citi ATMs or will it work on other ATMs as well?

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Ruchik January 18, 2016 at 11:26 PM

ATMs in Thailand charges around 250 INR per transaction so beware.

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piyush modi May 6, 2015 at 11:22 AM

Well i only have a HDFC debit card. I’ve used it in HK/Singapore/Malaysia/Mauritius/US everywhere across all banks. Carry a Visa debit card, that typically accepted across the globe.

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Manshu May 6, 2015 at 2:03 PM

Thank you Piyush, I didn’t know that I can use a HDFC debit card across any bank ATM to withdraw cash.

Just for clarity, you can use your HDFC debit card to withdraw USD out of say Chase Bank or Bank of America in the US for example?

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piyush modi May 6, 2015 at 2:13 PM

Yes that is correct. And equivalent INR gets deducted from your hdfc bank account. Its about 2.5-3% markup over actual currency rate, but even if you buy dollars in India you pay 1-2%, if you buy dollars then buy something else you probably end up paying 4-5%.

Reply

Manshu May 6, 2015 at 5:23 PM

Thanks Piyush.

Reply

divya sahi May 7, 2015 at 4:32 PM

can you suggest what is best way to transfer rs 5 lakh to thb.i want to take it for stem cell therapy which is available in thailand

Reply

Nitin saini January 27, 2016 at 9:55 AM

U can buy cashier check from western union for 5 lakhs

Reply

Nitin August 4, 2015 at 9:03 AM

Full disclosure – I work for BookMyForex.com

In response to Piyush’s comment, using a debit card will cost you much more than 2.5% – 3% over the interbank (mid-market) rates. The cross currency charge is 2.5% – 3%. However there is a forex charge that is also applied (which the banks don’t tell you about) and that is another 2% – 6% depending on which bank’s debit card you use.

So your effective conversion rate when using debit/ credit cards is anywhere from 5% to 9% on top of the interbank rates.

Manshu’s suggestion in the original blog is dead right. Converting INR – USD and then USD – THB is the cheapest option. The other better option is to get a THB forex card directly from India on http://bookmyforex.com. THB forex cards are marked up at about 2% – 3% over the interbank rate and are therefore the best option.

Reply

Manshu August 5, 2015 at 2:00 AM

Thanks for your comment Nitin, and especially for the disclosure, as far as I’m concerned, it adds a lot more weight to your comment.

Unrelated, I had some 600 Thai Bahts left which I didn’t bother to change back to USD because of the fee they charge over there, and was able to give that to an aunt who is going to visit Bangkok soon, the joy to help someone out like this, if only to a very small extent, a lot more than whatever little cash you could get out of this.

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Nitin August 6, 2015 at 8:17 AM

Hi Manshu…I do understand why you did what you did. Although, just so you know you can sell THB and get INR back on BookMyForex as well. You don’t have to go via the USD channel when converting back. In fact, since THB has a heavy demand in India you get rates better than the interbank (mid market) rates when you convert THB to INR. For example the current interbank rate for THB to INR is 1.81. If you were to sell THB to us, however, you would get a rate of 1.89 (8 paisa more than the interbank rates). Just something to keep in mind. Btw, you can check out our live rates here http://bookmyforex.com/fullratecard.htm.

Reply

Arvind January 28, 2016 at 9:41 PM

Hi Nitin,
My wife and I will be travelling to Bangkok in February and will apply for the ” Visa On Arrival ” at Bangkok Airport.
One condition for such visa is ” Present evidence of adequate finance, not less than 20,000 Baht (700US$) per person and 40,000 Baht
(1400US$) per family.”
Cost of the Visa ( only in Thai Baht ) is 1000 B per person.
Immigration authorities at that airport sometimes ask for proof of above in Cash only – either B or USD. At other times they just ask whether you have such finance available.
Should I go for the INR > USD ?
OR – Buy a pre-paid Forex Card in Baht from here in India itself ?
( if the authorities insist on Cash and not Forex Card – then I suppose the ATMs at the airport can be used for withdrawing Baht using the Forex Card. Are there are charges for such cash withdrawal ? Which Bank ATMs in Bangkok accept this FC ? )
For the cost of Visa which is to be paid in Baht only,plus taxi fare from the airport to the hotel and some top-up I could buy Bahts in India itself.
Thanks.
Arvind

Trust this Card is freely acceptable at most establishments .

Reply

Abhilov Sharma April 9, 2017 at 10:26 AM

Hi Arvind..I m travelling to Bangkok & Phuket in Apr
Pl guide me on how to carry currency..in USD or THB
How much is to be shown on Airport for visa
Regards

Reply

vinser August 26, 2015 at 3:36 AM

Hi Guys,

first of all thanks a lot for all the information about interbank rates.

I am bit confused here. i will be travelling in mid spetember this year and will be carying 80K INR.
What do you suggest. I checked with the some forexcard companies but they are charging even more than 8%. I am located in delhi.

cheers
vinser

Reply

Ramu October 29, 2015 at 10:09 PM

Hi Manshu,

Very interesting blog and good readup.
So, where do i get the best dollar rates from? I stay at bangalore

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Ashish December 18, 2015 at 2:09 AM

Very Nice blog ! Thanks Manshu..

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Suresh January 13, 2016 at 10:57 AM

Great Info. Thank you all 🙂

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Rahul January 15, 2016 at 12:51 PM

The best way to take cash out of India to Thailand is to convert it USD and then to THB. The money changers in Pattaya offers a very attractive rate on USD and their spread is also very low, may be 0.02-0.05. I found the best exchange rate in T.T. Currency Exchange in Pattaya Beach Road just before reaching Walking Street. I love Thailand

Reply

Ruchik January 18, 2016 at 11:29 PM

Can anyone suggest good conversation rate in Bangkok.?

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R. Pandharinath January 22, 2016 at 11:59 AM

Thanks every one for suggestions about currency exchange. i am going to Bangkok on 28th of this month, i am very lucky to see this site & i am filling so relax.

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Nitin saini January 27, 2016 at 9:53 AM

The best way is to buy thai bhat from india bcs exchange rate is good compare to exchange in bankok airport . Never exchange your money at bangkok airport bcs they charge very high fees for exchanging compare to outside airport . Always exchage your money in travelling place like pattaya bcs there is no tax fees at there for exchanging . Little amount exchange fees only . Dont change to USD ALSO bcs some people change inr to usd then again USD to thai bhat this way u pay 2 times exchange fees .

Reply

Abhilov April 9, 2017 at 10:21 AM

Hi Pandharinath…I’m plg to go to Bangkok & Phuket in end Apr
Can you pl guide me on what to carry USD or THB in cash?
How much I need to show at the Airport for visa
Regards

Reply

Nitin saini January 27, 2016 at 9:50 AM

The best way is to buy thai bhat from india bcs exchange rate is good compare to exchange in bankok airport . Never exchange your money at bangkok airport bcs they charge very high fees for exchanging compare to outside airport . Always exchage your money in travelling place like pattaya bcs there is no tax fees at there for exchanging . Little amount exchange fees only . Dont change to USD ALSO bcs some people change inr to usd then again USD to thai bhat this way u pay 2 times exchange fees .

Reply

ramu January 27, 2016 at 4:06 PM

Hi,

I am thinking off taking baht from india itself. One of the brokers has promised to give at no service tax and service charge. The rate is 1.9
Pls advise if its a very good deal?

Ramu

Reply

Arvind January 28, 2016 at 9:46 PM

Hi Nitin,
My wife and I will be travelling to Bangkok in February and will apply for the ” Visa On Arrival ” at Bangkok Airport.
One condition for such visa is ” Present evidence of adequate finance, not less than 20,000 Baht (700US$) per person and 40,000 Baht
(1400US$) per family.”
Cost of the Visa ( only in Thai Baht ) is 1000 B per person.
Immigration authorities at that airport sometimes ask for proof of above in Cash only – either B or USD. At other times they just ask whether you have such finance available.
Should I go for the INR > USD ?
OR – Buy a pre-paid Forex Card in Baht from here in India itself ?
( if the authorities insist on Cash and not Forex Card – then I suppose the ATMs at the airport can be used for withdrawing Baht using the Forex Card. Are there are charges for such cash withdrawal ? Which Bank ATMs in Bangkok accept this FC ? )
For the cost of Visa which is to be paid in Baht only,plus taxi fare from the airport to the hotel and some top-up I could buy Bahts in India itself.
Thanks.
Arvind

Trust this Card is freely acceptable at most establishments .

Reply

Deepak g January 31, 2016 at 12:48 PM

I m very glad to see such kind of help but I confused to see some telling about first convert USD in india and some telling about first converte THB in India what is best option for me I m travelling on 5th February to Bangkok pataya.

Reply

rajan February 1, 2016 at 3:24 AM

hello i m rajan
can u answer me ..
i m in bangkok .. i have citibank cradit card ..
how much i withdraw in one day….

if i withdraw it is convert in thai bath directly …?

it is safe ??

Reply

S RAGINI July 10, 2016 at 12:49 PM

At present I am living in Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu. I am visiting Thailand next week. so I want to transfer INR to BAHT. Can you suggest that where do I transfer, ie from money transferers or from bank? if it is from bank then, please name the bank in Kanyakumari district.
Thank you

Reply

Vishal September 9, 2016 at 5:33 PM

Hello guys…..
My name is vishal and i am from pune. Me and my friends are going to visit Thailand could you tell me that how can i convert my INR to THB…..
We all are going 1st time abrod so pls guys tell how to convert….will be very usefull to me and my friends……

Reply

Pragya September 13, 2016 at 7:21 AM

Hi all,
I agree the best way to get a good rate is by using a USD card or by paying in USD. However one can get very good rates and exchange Rupees & other currencies at VASU exchange on 133/133-1 Sukhumvit road.Locals also exchange cash here and they are a renowned company.

Reply

Dilshad October 9, 2017 at 1:53 PM

Hi..can you please help me with visa on arrival facility and documents they actually need when we land..am going with my family and my parents.
Thank you

Reply

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