Banking and Communications

1. Currency

The local currency is the Thai baht. Foreign currency is generally not accepted. The baht comes in B20, B50, B100, B500 and B1000 paper notes, and B1, B2, B5, and B10 coins. Larger bank notes can be exchanged for smaller denominations at restaurants and major convenience stores.

2. ATMs

Cash machines can be found throughout Phuket. Some of the smaller islands do not have ATMs so you should withdraw cash before traveling there. It is a good idea to contact your bank to find out how much they charge for foreign transaction fees. Bank ATMs often give better exchange rates than local shops.

3. Currency Exchange

You can change currency at most banks, currency exchange shops, tourist offices, and hotels. Big banks generally offer the best rates, while tourist offices and hotels should be used only for emergencies. Only exchange with street vendors if you are feeling charitable. Shop around for the best rates, and make sure that commission is included.

4. Credit Cards

Major hotels and restaurants accept credit cards, but many smaller tour companies do not. Do check with your bank to ask about foreign transaction fees for credit cards, because they are often significant. It is also a good idea to keep the issuing bank’s phone number handy in case the card gets lost or stolen.

5. Money Transfers

A last resort for getting cash (because it is the most expensive), money transfers can be made through Western Union or MoneyGram, giving you instant access to cash. Many banks, post offices, and tourist shops offer these services. Make sure you inquire about commissions and fees before completing the transaction.

6. Postal Services

Thailand’s postal services are generally reliable. You can send important documents or packages via registered airmail or EMS from Thai post offices. Most post offices are open 8am–4:30pm and can assist you with packing boxes and materials. Other major couriers include FedEx and DHL.

7. Internet Access

WiFi is common at the island’s hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops, while Internet cafés are popular throughout the major tourist areas. They usually charge around B1 or 2 per minute. One way to save money on international long-distance calls is to use an Internet-based phone provider, like Skype.

8. Cell Phones

Thailand’s mobile telecommunications infrastructure is very well developed. If you own a GSM phone and your international roaming is activated, your friends and family can easily call your phone number. However, roaming costs can be high. Alternatively, you can buy a local SIM card, which will give you access to a Thai number.

9. Telephone Cards

If you just want to make outbound calls, and want to avoid paying the rates offered by your hotel, you can buy phone cards at 7-Eleven or other convenience stores. One popular international calling card is the “Tuk Dee.” Rates are generally a few baht per minute to North America and Europe.

10. Dialing Codes

Thailand’s country code is 066. When calling Thailand from another country, omit the first 0 included in the region code, after the country code. Within Thailand, there is no need to dial the country code, but you must dial the first 0 in the region code before dialing the rest of the number.

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