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Thailand Currency Spotlight: Thai Baht

In Business and Currency by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

Thailand is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination and the country’s economy is one of the strongest in South East Asia. For business or pleasure, if you want to visit Thailand, you should first buy Thai baht.  

Fast Facts: Thai baht

  • Thai baht Symbol: ฿
  • Thailand Currency Code: THB
  • Subunits: satang (1/100)
  • Coins: 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 satang,  ฿1,  ฿2,  ฿5,  ฿10
  • Banknotes: ฿20, ฿50, ฿100, ฿500, ฿1000
  • Thai GDP (nominal): US$373.536 billion
  • Central Bank: Bank of Thailand
  • Mint: Royal Thai Mint

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History of Thai Currency

Money has a long history in Thailand. From the 1st to the 6th century, the ancient kingdom of Funan – which covered parts of modern day Thailand and Vietnam – used silver coins stamped with symbols like a half sun, the swastika, and a ceremonial drum. As the Funan Kingdom declined a number of other kingdoms rose and brought with them their own coins: The Dvaravati Kingdom from the 6th to the 11th century, the Srivijaya Kingdom from the 8th to the 13th century, the Sukhothai Kingdom  from the 13th to the 15th century and the Kingdom of Ayudhya from the 14th to the 18th century. Thai currency was valued and subdivided based on traditional weight units (much like the old British pound) but in 1897 the baht was split into 100 satang.

Thai Notes and Coins

The latest series of coins were released in 2008 although the 1, 5, and 10 satang coins are rarely see in circulation.

Value Obverse Reverse
1 satang King Bhumibol Adulyadej Wat Phra That Hariphunchai (Buddhist temple), Lamphun (northern province)
5 satang King Bhumibol Adulyadej Wat Phra That Hariphunchai (Buddhist temple), Nakhon Pathom (central province)
10 satang King Bhumibol Adulyadej Wat Phra That Hariphunchai (Buddhist temple), Sakon Nakhon
25 satang King Bhumibol Adulyadej Wat Phra Mahathat (temple), Nakhon Si Thammarat (southern province)
50 satang King Bhumibol Adulyadej Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (temple), Chiang Mai (northern province)  
1 baht King Bhumibol Adulyadej Wat Phra Kaew (temple), Bangkok
2 baht King Bhumibol Adulyadej Wat Benchamabophit, Bangkok
5 baht King Bhumibol Adulyadej Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram temple, Bangkok
10 baht King Bhumibol Adulyadej Wat Arun, Bangkok

Banknotes:

Value Colour Obverse Reverse
20 baht Green King Bhumibol Adulyadej King Ram Khamhaeng the Great on the Manangkhasila Asana Throne monument and  Ramkhamhaeng stele (inventor of Thai script)   
50 baht Blue King Bhumibol Adulyadej King Naresuan the Great, statue of king Naresuan the Great on war elephant, Phra Chedi Chai Mongkol temple
100 baht Red King Bhumibol Adulyadej King Taksin the Great monument, Phra Ratchawang Doem, Wichai Prasit Fortress
500 baht Purple King Bhumibol Adulyadej King Buddha Yodfa Chulalok the Great  monument, Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn, Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn
1 000 baht Brown King Bhumibol Adulyadej King Chunla Chom Klao the Great, Ananta Samakhom throne hall, Dusit palace ground king’s monument

Value of the Thai Baht

The baht’s value was pegged to the price of silver until a peg of 13 baht to 1 pound sterling was established in 1908. In 1919 the value increased to 12 baht to 1 pound sterling and to 11 baht to 1 pound sterling in 1923. During the Second World War the baht was tied to the Japanese yen. From 1956 to 1973 the baht was pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 20.8 to 1, later revised to 20 to 1 until 1978, then 25 to 1 until 1997. Following the 1997 Asian financial crisis the baht was floated freely, dropping in value to 56 to 1 against the dollar before regaining some strength to around 30 to 1.

1 USD is currently (11AM, Feb 26 2016) valued at 35.7293 THB

USD THB 5 years graph rate watch

THB to 1 USD over the past 5 years (courtesy of Rate Watch)

1 CAD is currently (11AM, Feb 26 2016) valued at 26.3905 THB

THB CAD graph 5 years rate watch

THB to 1 CAD over the past 5 years (courtesy of Rate Watch)

Economy of Thailand

Thailand is dependent on exports which account for ⅔ of its GDP. As a newly industrialised country Thailand has enjoyed rapid growth with 6.5% growth in 2012, but contracted slightly the following year.. Services make up 52% of the GDP, industry makes up 39% and agriculture 8.4%. The country’s ease of doing business rank is 18th and the primary destination of exports is China at 11% followed closely by Japan and the US at around 10% each. Thailand is regularly lauded as a development success story.

thai baht coins bills pile money cash

Final Thoughts

The Thai baht has a long history and a bright future. Thailand is one of Southeast Asia’s most impressive success stories with rapid development leading to a diverse, healthy and growing economy.

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For a broader understanding of Thai history and culture check out our Country of the Week profile. For information about traveling to Thailand then be sure to follow our Travel Guide.

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