5 Ways to Save Money in Thailand

Below you will find a list that outlines five of the most common mistakes people make when traveling Thailand, and how you can avoid such mistakes. We will also present strategies you can use to quickly research potential scams in Thailand or whatever country you’re traveling to next.

#1 – Do not use the ATMs in the airport

I love this tip as virtually everyone makes this mistake. As you will see if you attempt to use them, the ATMs at the airport do not use standard currency exchange rates. If you read the fine print when proceeding with your withdrawal, they will insist that you convert the amount you’re withdrawing before moving forward. Sounds innocent enough, but beware: this is where they rip you off. By insisting that you convert the amount before accepting, they are subtly asking you to use an exchange that is as much as 2.5% less than what you would get at a normal ATM. Given most of us take out the largest withdrawal possible to avoid ATM fees, that could mean a $12.5 penalty (maximum $500 withdrawals in Thailand). Instead, bring and convert just enough of your local currency to get to your hotel ($3-6 most likely) and find an ATM once you’ve arrived.

#2 – Research your transportation options once you arrive

The majority of people who fly into Thailand land in Bangkok and the majority of people staying in Bangkok stay somewhere in Silom, Siam, Sukhumvit or near Koh San Road. For those of you staying in one of the first three cities, all are highly accessible via the BTS SkyTrain/subway/tram. In most cases taking the subway will be cheaper than a taxi as the airport is pretty far from the downtown area. With that said, if there are two or more of you a taxi may be a better fit; you are looking at 75-90 bhat/person on the tram versus 160-200 bhat total for a taxi.

#3 – Take metered taxis at all times

When it comes to taxis, don’t even try to negotiate; move on and find another if they refuse to use the meter. Just because you negotiate the driver down 70 bhat doesn’t mean you’re getting a deal; it is highly likely you are still going to pay more than you would if they were to use the meter.

#4 – Use the ferry as much as possible when in Bangkok

The ferry is the cheapest way to get around Bangkok, period. Further, it can take you from the southern points near Silom/Siam/Sukhumvit straight to the tourist sights (Grand Palace, temples, reclining Buddha, Emerald Buddha, etc) for only 14 bhat/person.

#5 – Research common scams

You have a couple of options when researching scams. The easiest thing you can do is plug ‘Thailand scams to avoid’ or ‘scams in Bangkok’ into Google (feel free to replace Thailand or Bangkok with any destination in the world). The second thing you can do, which will probably yield more relevant results, is finding a travel forum specific to your destination and search for “scams” in the proper thread. Lonely Planet’s thorn tree forum is highly active and does not require you to register to access their content. I would recommend searching the ThornTree forum before going anywhere in the world, as Lonely Planet is one of the most recognized travel brands in the world and the people participating in their forums are highly active travelers or locals.

In conclusion, it is impossible to avoid every single financial mistake and scam out there. But with a little bit of preparation and research, you can avoid most mistakes, and a dollar saved is a dollar earned.

Thailand Travel Facts

Money Exchange

You can always go to a Thai bank to exchange your money into Thai Baht. They will take traveler’s checks but it can be a bit of a problem. Anyone getting Travelers Checks knows you have to sign them at the bank you get them at. You are always in a hurry to do this and when you go to cash them in, your signature better looks like the first one you put on it or it will be scrutinized. If you use cash the larger denomination the bill, the better exchange rate you will get. Make sure to call your credit card company before you leave too, or you may go to use it and get declined. There are a lot of ATM’s around too, so make sure your card will work internationally.

Electricity

Some of the major hotels do supply the rooms with 115 volts like the United States but make sure you check first. You can buy transformers that convert 200 volts to 115 volts but they are big and heavy.

Most electronic rechargeable items today will accept a wide range of voltage inputs. Things like Digital cameras and laptop computers. Typical ranges on them are 100-240 volts @ 50/60 Hz. Just make sure you check them first.

Water

Do not drink the tap water. Local people seldom drink too. Get bottled water and always inspect the seal to make sure the bottle was not just refilled. If you order water and the seal is broken just politely ask for another one with a good seal. Streetside cafe’s and street vender’s, it is a good idea not to use ice also. You should be alright to use ice in all the major hotel chains.

Food

Any 2 star and up hotels will have plenty of things to keep you full if you do not trust outside food sources. You will not have to be worried of their cleanliness. But if you want to really taste Thai food you can give some of the food stalls and street vender’s a try. Just look to see how clean the cooks and cooking surfaces are kept. I have eaten in some shabby looking places that were clean and have had some of the best food ever in Thailand. If you find one you think you would like to try, just stand around for a while and watch and see how they conduct business. Then see if you want to try what they have to offer. You will never be able to beat the cost also, very cheap and good.

Choosing A Red Light District Tour

If you are looking to understand the culture of freedom and respect that permeates Dutch society, there is no better place to visit than the Red Light District. Known as De Wallen, this part of the city is among the oldest. The streets are narrow and cobblestoned, and the homes are historic. There are many ways to enjoy De Wallen as part of an Amsterdam walking tour, but choosing a special Red Light District tour may also be a good option.

Adding De Wallen To An Amsterdam Walking Tour

Most excursions around the city are able to be customized enough that including De Wallen on another type of excursion can be a good option. If you are not intending to see the district on its own, avoid visiting after dark. If you go during the daytime, you are still likely to experience things that would be considered inappropriate for children. The district is geared toward prostitution and the sex trade, and even during the day, these elements will not be entirely hidden. However, the district takes on a less intense character during the day, when the ‘red’ of the lights is not so striking.

A Specific Red Light District Tour

However, if you are seeking the full experience of De Wallen, then nighttime is the opportune time to visit. A Red Light District tour after dark will allow you to see the true liberty of the city. There will be women in the windows of De Wallen, and you’ll see landmarks like the Prostitute Information Center. All the while, you will be accompanied by an Amsterdam walking tour guide who can explain what you are seeing.

Elements Of An Excursion To De Wallen

Visiting the Red Light District without a guide is not generally advisable because the streets can be confusing to a first-time traveler. However, there are some key points of interest to be aware of when choosing an excursion.

Architecture: A good Red Light District tour will consider the architecture you see as well as the other spectacles of the area. The architecture here is among the most remarkable in Amsterdam, and also the oldest. Ensure that a guide has the proper knowledge to inform you.

Knowledge of the area: Ensure that your guide can help steer you toward elements of De Wallen that particularly attract you. If you are just looking to experience the area, that is less important. However, if you are looking to make particular purchases from the sex shops or to visit particular types of bars or brothels later, your guide should know how to direct you. Knowing the city well enough to give an Amsterdam walking tour does not mean he knows De Wallen.

Museums: Oddly enough, this area has a number of interesting museums. They are not for the underage, as they typically focus on mature content. However, for those who can appreciate them, they are a worthwhile destination. You may not visit the museums as part of your actual guided excursion, but having the two museums pointed out can show you locations to visit independently later.