Thai Baht: Top Facts about Thailand’s Currency Today

 
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Thailand currency: woman holding some Thai Baht

Thailand, part of mainland Southeast Asia, is popular for its delicious cuisine, religious temples, beautiful beaches, and friendly people. Formerly referred to as Siam, and officially named the Kingdom of Thailand, it boasts a colorful currency called the Thai baht.

The Bank of Thailand in Bangkok issues the Thai baht (THB). Fun fact: the baht is one of the top 12 most frequently used currencies of the world. But before you convert Thai currency into USD or vice versa, what else should you know about Thailand’s currency system?

Here’s a closer look at Thailand’s official currency, as well as how to find the best exchange rates when converting Thai currency to USD or sending money to Thailand.

Thailand currency basics

Like many currencies, Thailand’s currency is available in coins and banknotes. Paper banknotes come in denominations of 20 baht, 50 baht, 100 baht, 500 baht, and 1,000 baht, with 100 baht being the most commonly used. 

The Thai central bank divides the baht into 100 satangs. Thai coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, and 50 satangs. The 10-satang coin is the most widely used coin. 

The currency is most regularly referred to as Thai baht or simply baht, and the symbol for it is an uppercase B with a perpendicular line down the center (฿). You can identify the baht by its three-letter code THB on foreign currency exchange markets.

Fun facts about the Thai baht

Whether you need to send or exchange Thai baht or just want to learn more about this Southeast Asian currency, have a look at these fascinating facts.

It’s illegal to step on a baht.

In the U.S., people may not handle bills and coins with much care. But in Thailand, that is certainly not the case. The country has a strict national law prohibiting insults to its monarchy, known as the lese-majeste law. 

This law prohibits any verbal, physical, or written act that exhibits disrespectful behavior toward the king or any member of the royal family. Because all money in Thailand bears the portrait of the king or a deceased royal family member, this law extends to the handling of currency. 

For instance, the following behaviors might be illegal in Thailand: 

  • Stepping on a coin
  • Stepping on a banknote
  • Burning, tearing, or writing on a banknote

On the flip side, many shops in Thailand display some smaller baht banknotes as a symbol of respect to the king. 

The baht is made of a special cotton.

They make the Thai baht with a special cotton fiber designed to be extra durable. In fact, each banknote denomination has a different thickness and feel so it’s easier to tell them apart when handling Thai currency.

The Bank of Thailand uses a process called intaglio printing that leaves the print slightly raised, which allows for a very tactile feel compared to other currencies.

The denominations are prominently displayed in Arabic numerals and Thai numerals. You can also find hidden Arabic numerals on the lower-left corner of each banknote. 

Each banknote features a king.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Thailand’s current king, has his face on the 20-, 50-, and 100-baht banknotes. The most recent editions of the 500- and 1,000-baht banknotes were issued on King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s birthday in 2018.

The primary colors and sizes of the notes are the same as before, with the back designs featuring images of the kings of Thailand in order from past to present.

History of Thailand currency

Person holding some Thai Baht bills

Thailand’s money wasn’t always in paper form. Before developing modern banknotes, Thailand used shells—pot duang—and baked clay coins as legal tender.

During the reign of King Mongkut in the 19th century, Thailand introduced free trade and established diplomatic relations with Western countries. Imports and exports increased significantly, and as a result, there wasn’t enough pot duang to meet the demand.

In 1853, to combat the demand for more currency, King Mongkut ordered the first paper money, called “Mai.”  It wasn’t very successful, however, because people still preferred to use the pot duang instead of the official currency.

Since then, Thailand has faced serious currency shortages several times. When King Chulalongkorn arrived in 1873, copper coins of low value were incredibly scarce. The value of tin and copper in the world market rose above the face value of the coins.

At that point, people started using the “pee,” a type of currency they could exchange for money at the casinos. King Chulalongkorn wanted to avoid its use, so he introduced a low-value paper currency called “Att Kradat,” while waiting for copper coins that were supposed to come from England. Leaders would withdraw these from circulation in 1875. 

Because there still weren’t enough Thai coins in circulation to meet the demand, the government allowed three foreign commercial banks to operate and issue banknotes in 1889, 1898, and 1899.

Understanding Thai baht exchange rates

The baht is the only legal tender in Thailand, so if you travel there, you will need to get your money exchanged into baht. Likewise, if you send money to Thailand, make sure it’s in baht, not in U.S. dollars (USD), British pounds (GBP), or euros (EUR).

The best time to exchange Thai baht depends on the currency exchange rate for each currency pair, which fluctuates.

If you’re converting between dollars and Thai baht, then you’ll want to look at the USD rate. As of June 23, 2022, 1 USD was equal to 35.34 THB.

You’ll get a different rate if you’re converting Canadian dollars (CAD), Australian dollars (AUD), or New Zealand dollars (NZD).

Here are a few other currency pairs and the amount that 1 Thai baht is equivalent to using the exchange rate on June 23, 2022:

  • 1 THB = 0.03 Swiss franc (CHF)
  • 1 THB = 2.21 Indian rupee (INR)
  • 1 THB = 3.85 Japanese yen (JPY)
  • 1 THB = 0.15 Brazilian real (BRL)
  • 1 THB = 25.15 Chilean peso (CLP)
  • 1 THB = 0.19 Chinese yuan (CNY)
  • 1 THB = 0.53 Egyptian pound (EGP)
  • 1 THB = 0.22 Hong Kong dollar (HKD)
  • 1 THB = 420 Indonesian rupiah (IDR)
  • 1 THB = 0.57 Mexican peso (MXN)
  • 1 THB = 0.12 Malaysian ringgit (MYR)
  • 1 THB = 5.98 Pakistani rupee (PKR)
  • 1 THB = 0.13 Polish złoty (PLN)
  • 1 THB = 0.29 Swedish krona (SEK)

Of course, exchange rates fluctuate all the time, so these are just a snapshot of each currency conversion as reported by CNN.

Always check the latest exchange rate for Thai currency to USD—or another currency pair—before initiating an international money transfer.

For more on understanding exchange rates, consult an exchange rate guide. You can also check with your bank or your favorite money transfer company for current Thai baht exchange rates.

For example, when you use the Remitly app and choose Thailand as your destination, you’ll be able to see the current rates for USD to baht, GBP to baht, and more.

Sending money to Thailand

Thailand currency: woman withdrawing cash from an ATM

Thailand’s currency has gone through many changes over the years, but it’s one of the most frequently traded currencies in the world. 

If you need to send money to family and friends in Thailand, it’s safest to use a money transfer service, especially if you’ll be sending sizeable sums of money at once.

The Remitly app makes international money transfers easy. You’ll benefit from low fees, a competitive exchange rate, and the ability to track your transfer every step of the way.

Download the app now to get started.

Further reading