Preparing for your trip to Phuket, you will want to be carrying the right currency with you, and understand when you need to pay with cash or credit card might be acceptable.
Whilst locals in Thailand actually have quite advanced online payment systems, as a tourist, you’ll likely use a combination of cash and credit cards. Here’s what you need to know to get your money matters in order ahead of a trip to Thailand.
Phuket (Thailand) Currency
Phuket uses Thai Baht (THB/฿) as legal tender, the same as all of Thailand.
Approximate exchange rates (as of mid-2023):
- 1 THB = 0.023 GBP (£10 = 440 THB)
- 1 THB = 0.030 USD ($10 = 330 THB)
- 1 THB = 0.043 AUD ($10 = 230 THB)
- 1 THB = 0.027 EUR (€10 = 370 THB)
Most commonly, you will find paper notes ฿1000 (beige/brown), ฿500 (purple), ฿100 (red), ฿50 (blue), ฿20 (green). If you go into smaller shops, you may still get some coins in your change – ฿1, ฿2, ฿5, and ฿10.
Getting Cash Out in Phuket
Whilst you can rely on card payment for big purchases like your accommodation, you are undoubtedly going to need some walking around cash. There are several ways to get cash in Phuket, depending on your needs and preferences. Here are some of the best ways:
ATMs are widely available in Phuket and are the most convenient way to get cash. They can be found in most towns and tourist areas, including airports and shopping malls.
It’s important to note that most ATMs charge a withdrawal fee or have a daily withdrawal limit, this is in addition to any foreign transaction fee your bank might charge.
In our experience, the Thai bank ATMs in Phuket charge around ฿200-220 (around $USD6-6.50 or £4.50-£5) per transaction, so get out your max daily allowance each time! (Generally, this is ฿20,000-฿25,000 but varies by your bank and the ATM you use).
Avoiding/Reducing ATM fees in Phuket
It’s a good idea to check with your bank before you travel to see if they have any partnerships with banks in Thailand that may allow you to use their ATMs without paying additional fees.
If given the option, always select “local currency” or “without conversion” to get the best rate.
Another option to consider is getting a Wise Currency Card (formerly TransferWise). Your first £200 withdrawal is not charged a foreign currency fee, and they offer your currency exchange at the mid-market rate. This won’t remove the ATM fee in Phuket, but will save you some bank charges.
Currency Exchange Booths
Currency exchange booths can be found at airports, tourist areas, and major banks. They offer competitive rates, but it’s important to shop around for the best rate (i.e., avoid airports if you can!)
Although scams are not nearly so prevalent in Thailand as in other parts of Southeast Asia, always watch carefully as they count out your cash and check on the spot.
Banks in Thailand offer currency exchange services, but they usually charge a higher commission than currency exchange booths.
You can, however, avoid ATM fees and withdraw more than the ATM daily limit if you are prepared to go into a bank (most have services translated into English) with your passport and do an over-the-counter cash withdrawal. Your bank will likely still charge that foreign transaction fee, but you’ll skip the expensive ATM fee.
Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted in Thailand, especially in tourist areas and larger establishments. However, smaller shops, restaurants, and markets may only accept cash.
Additionally, you can use ApplePay or Samsung Wallet on your phone at many, though certainly not all shops and restaurants.
It’s important to notify your bank and credit card company before travelling to Thailand to avoid any issues with blocked transactions or frozen accounts.
Quite antiquated these days but still possible at some cash exchanges or banks, but expect to pay a high commission.
Tipping in Phuket, Thailand
Tipping in Thailand is not mandatory, but it is appreciated for good service. Here are some general guidelines for tipping in Thailand:
- Restaurants: In most cases, a service charge of 10% is included in the bill at restaurants. If there is no service charge, leaving a small tip (around 10-20 baht) is appreciated, but not essential.
- Bars: Tipping at bars is not expected, but rounding up the bill to the nearest 10 or 20 baht is a common practice.
- Hotels: Tipping hotel staff is not required, but leaving a small tip for housekeeping staff (around 20-50 baht per day) is appreciated but not expected.
- Taxis: Tipping taxi drivers is not expected, and generally your fare is negotiated upfront.
- Tour guides and drivers: Tipping tour guides and drivers is not required, but it is a nice gesture to show your appreciation for their service. The amount you tip can vary depending on the length of the tour and the level of service provided.
Remember that while tipping is appreciated in Thailand, it’s not expected and should always be based on the quality of service provided.
More Phuket Traveller Tips
If you’re planning your first trip to Phuket, you may also want to check out:
- Everything you need to pack for a trip to Phuket
- The do’s and don’ts every Phuket traveller should follow
- Our step-by-step planning tips for a family trip to Thailand
- Safety tips and awareness for Phuket travellers
- Ultimate list of things to do with kids in Phuket
© Mama Loves Phuket