Purchasing Thailand currency is one of the first things you will likely do when you vacation in Thailand. Hence, one of the challenges is to understand as much as you can regarding their currency. The country of Thailand like most other countries has it's own mint which produces a unique set of notes and coins which have value and are used to pay for goods and services by people living in the Kingdom of Thailand.
In Thailand the unit of currency is called the baht and your first introduction to this currency is likely to be when you exchange your normal currency with the baht either in your own country or when you arrive in Thailand.
Obviously, in order to engage in any monetary transactions within Thailand a knowledge of Thailand currency is helpful so you know exactly how much money you are getting when you convert your own currency into Thai baht and how much goods and services are actually costing you when you get a taxi, eat at a restaurant or go bargain shopping at a night market.
The Royal Thai Mint which produces all of Thailand's notes and coins is located in Pathum Thani province, or the greater Bangkok area of Thailand. Thailand currency dates back over a 1,000 years, but early coins originating from Indochina are known to have appeared in the Kingdom of Thailand between 100-700 AD.
Prior to this period ancient beads, bracelets, and even types of seeds and pebbles are said to have been used as currency for barter within Thailand. During the past 2,000 years, coinage of various forms and materials were utilised as currency across Thailand including silver and copper and the unique Thai bullet money (named due to the resemblance of a bullet) was in circulation for around 600 years or up until 1904.
During this period in Thailand, the currency was expressed as a unit of mass, like it was in other countries such as England. Therefore, silver was cast into various weights with a given value and the baht was one such weight. Prior to 1860 Thailand did not produce any flat coins although Rama III had earlier been experimenting with the idea.
However, from about 1853 Thai royal bank notes began to be issued and after Queen Victoria of England presented Thailand with a minting machine as a gift a few years later, by 1860 the first official silver coins began to be minted from the Royal Palace in Bangkok. Hence, the modern era of Thailand currency had begun and by 1902 the early baht was a fixed level of currency equaling 15 grams of silver.
However, King Chulalongkorn decided to modernize the monetary system in Thailand and with a new metric system, the baht and satang were introduced as the primary denominations although older coinage are said to have remained in use until 1910.
Thailand's modern currency can be explained by their notes and coins as follows:
Coinage: The denominations are 1 satang, 5 satang, 10 satang (apparently the 1, 5, 10 satang coins are rarely used now) , 25 satang, 50 satang, 1 baht, 2 baht, 5 baht, 10 baht.
Notes: The common denominations are 20 baht, 50 baht, 100 baht, 500 baht, 1000 baht.
1 baht is divided into 100 satangs.
When buying Thai baht my experience has been that it is always better to purchase baht in Thailand as you will get a higher exchange rate for your foreign currency, then you will if you buy baht in your own country.
There a two major outlets for foreign currency exchange, being Thai Military Bank (TMB) and Forex which are clearly signed and easy to use with no fees, although Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) also does money exchange but the rate may not be as good. Exchange rates at the major airports in Thailand are never as good as the normal outlets distributed across Thailand.
Additionally, you can withdraw money from most ATM machines across Thailand although you will be charged a 150 baht transaction fee each transaction. It is far better in my view to take your own currency to Thailand and exchange your currency to Thai baht as often as required.
Note: Please be aware that in Thailand, the ATM will dispense your cash first, and your ATM card second, so don't forget to collect your ATM card after withdrawing your cash.