For our six week-long trip to Thailand and Bali, we got advice from friends who had previously travelled there, in order to budget. You can get by in Thailand very cheaply, as hostels can be as cheap as 5-10 euro a night and street food is extremely affordable. It really depends on what you want to spend and the kind of experience you’re after.
Cash Cash Money
It’s a good idea to order some Thai Baht before your trip through your local bank or currency office. It’s handy to have some when you arrive for taxi’s from the airport, for street food and for other things you may want to buy while out and about on your first day before you find an ATM. Not to mention that bank and ATM fees can be high for withdrawing foreign currency.
You’ll use cash for everything in Thailand. Most temples ask for donations, street food requires cash, you’re going to need it for everything. Quite different to tapping away as we do here in Ireland, but it’s also safer. It’s well known among backpackers that credit and debit card skimming is prevalent in Thailand and Bali, so if you can use your card as little as possible, you’re safer.
While in Bali, I met another Irish girl who said that she used a certain ATM down the street and her card was skimmed. She said to look out for camera’s above the ATM machines and to avoid machines that had big and bulky card slots.
One of my friends’ cards actually was skimmed in Bali, which meant that she had to cancel her card, so try to bring more than one. This brings me on to my next tip.
It’s really important to be safe with money when travelling in Thailand and Bali. It is very common for backpackers and tourists to be pick-pocketed and scammed. I always kept my money in my bum bag which I kept covered underneath my clothes. You can find great small bags which can be easily concealed under clothes on Amazon and Ebay. I’ve heard stories of tourists having bags grabbed or even cut off them by pick-pockets on foot and some will even do this while whizzing by on motorbike, so you have no chance of catching them. I’d recommend going to ATM’s in pairs and being aware of your surroundings.
It’s also a good idea to be discreet with money whenever paying for anything in shops, restaurants etc. Especially if haggling, if they know you have more than you say you’re willing to pay, it could kill your chances of getting a bargain.
Credit/ Debit Cards & Travel Cards
While you may have one main bank where the bulk of your money is, you should really order a travel card before embarking on your adventure. N26 is apparently the cheapest for overseas transaction fees, while Revolut is very handy for transferring money back and forth to your friends. These cards are topped up through your main bank account, meaning that if your card does get skimmed, you don’t have all of your money stolen.
I like both cards and apps. N26 has a nice feature where you divide up your money into different wallets, which keeps your money organised, while Revolut is very handy for splitting bills if all of your friends have it. The transfers on Revolut are also instant and all you need is your friend’s phone number to send money, no long IBANs or BICs.
You’re going to get some fees with these cards as their ‘no fee’ ATM withdrawals apply to withdrawing in Euro. But they are usually cheaper than other banks and they’re a great option for a second bank card while travelling.
There are different plans you can choose for each card, a free plan, premium plan and business plans. Here are the details for the FREE plans for both Revolut and N26 for both:
- Free UK account
- No fee ATM withdrawals up to €200 per month
- Spend in over 150 currencies at the interbank exchange rate
- Free Euro IBAN account
- Exchange in 30 fiat currencies up to €6,000 per month without any hidden fees
- Free Revolut card (excl. delivery)
- Free UK account
- Up to 5 free ATM withdrawals per month in €
- Free payments in any currency, with no extra foreign exchange rate fees
- 1.7% fee on ATM withdrawals in foreign currencies
- Customer Support in 5 languages via our live in-app chat
- 2 sub-accounts for easier saving with Spaces
- A free transparent MasterCard debit card
Services and Fees are for anyone who registers with an address in Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Iceland and Liechtenstein.