Thailand, located in the center of mainland Southeast Asia, is a country known for its delicious cuisine, religious temples, beautiful beaches, and friendly people. Formerly known as Siam and officially named the Kingdom of Thailand, it boasts a colorful currency known as the Thai baht.
The baht, issued by The Bank of Thailand, is divided into 100 satangs. THB is the currency code.
The currency is available in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 baht, with
100 baht being the most commonly used.
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 (฿).
Fun Facts About the Thai Baht
Whether you need to send or exchange THB or are just curious about this Southeast Asian currency, check out these fascinating facts.
It’s illegal to step on a baht.
In the U.S., people don’t tend to 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 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, these behaviors might be considered 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 of the smaller baht banknotes as a symbol of respect to the King.
The baht is made of a special cotton.
The Thai baht is made of a special kind of cotton fiber designed to be extra durable. Each banknote denomination has a different thickness and feel, as well, so it’s easier to tell them apart.
The Bank of Thailand uses a process called intaglio printing that leaves the print slightly raised, which allows for a very tactile feel.
You can also find hidden Arabic numerals on the lower-left corner of each banknote.
Thailand’s money wasn’t always in paper form.
Prior to banknotes, Thailand used shells—pot duang—and baked clay coins as legal tender.
During the reign of King Mongkut, Thailand introduced free trade and established diplomatic relations with major Western countries.
Trade increased significantly, and as a result, there wasn’t enough pot duang to meet the demand.
The first Thai paper money had another name.
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.
Thailand faced 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 currency that was exchanged 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.
These would be withdrawn 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 permission to operate and issue banknotes in 1889, 1898, and 1899.
Each banknote features a king.
King Maha Vajiralongkorn, Thailand’s current king, has his face on the Thai 20-, 50-, and 100-baht banknotes.
The main 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.
The 500 and 1,000 baht were issued on the anniversary of the birth of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.
Understanding Thai Baht Exchange Rates
For more on understanding foreign exchange rates, this guide has you covered.
You can always check with your bank or your favorite money transfer company for current Thai baht exchange rates, too.
For instance, when you log in to the Remitly app and select Thailand as your destination, you’ll be able to see the current rates being offered for USD to baht, GBP to baht, and more.
Lastly, a quick Google search for “currency converter” will reveal plenty of free tools for checking today’s exchange rates.
Sending Money to Thailand
The baht is the only legal tender in Thailand, so if you travel there, you will need to get your money exchanged.
Likewise, if you send money to Thailand, make sure it’s in baht, not in U.S. dollars (USD), British pounds (GBP), or euros.
Wondering how to send money to friends and family in Thailand? It’s easy using Remitly.
You benefit from low fees, a competitive exchange rate, and the ability to track your transfer every step of the way.