Thai baht information and exchange rates
The baht (Thai:
฿,) is the official currency of Thailand. It is
subdivided into 100 satang (สตางค์),
though today satang are seldom used. The issuance of all
currency in Thailand is the responsibility of the
Bank of Thailand.
A baht is also a unit of weight for gold
and is commonly used in jewellers and goldsmiths in Thailand. 1
baht = 15.244 grams (15.244 grams is used for "raw" gold or
bullion; in the case of jewellery, 1 baht should be more than
baht exchange rates
Should you need to convert
foreign currency into Thai baht, be careful. Thailand has what
is known as a two-tiered foreign exchange policy; what the Bank
of Thailand refers to as an off-shore rate and an on-shore rate.
Thai baht exchanged outside Thailand and certain other
transactions are subject to the off-shore rate which is, for
example, currently just over 60 baht to the pound. Currency
exchanged within Thailand, telex rates (TT) and certain other
transactions are exchanged using the on-shore rate, which is
considerably higher at between 64 to over 65 baht per pound.
Quite a difference. That's why it's definitely best to exchange
your currency after you get to Thailand or use credit cards,
travellers' cheques or ATMs, which will give you the on-shore
history of the Thai baht
The currency was originally known as the
tical, which was the currency name used in English text on
banknotes until 1925. However, the name ‘baht’ was established
as the Thai name by the late 19th century. Both tical and baht
were originally units of weight, and coins were issued in both
silver and gold denominated by their weight in baht along with
its fractions and various multiples.
Until 1897, the baht was subdivided into 8
fuang (เฟือง), each of 8 ath (อัฐ). The present decimal system, in which 1 baht
equals 100 satang, was introduced by His Majesty King
Chulalongkorn in 1897. However, coins denominated in the old
units were issued until 1910. One hangover from the
pre-decimalization system: the 25 satang (¼ baht) is still
colloquially called a salueng or salung (สลึง).
It is occasionally used for amounts not exceeding 10 salueng or
2.50 baht. A 25-satang coin is also sometimes called salueng
pronounced 'rian salueng').
Until 1902, the tical was fixed on a purely
silver basis, with exactly 15 grams of silver to the baht. This
caused the value of the currency to vary relative to currencies
on a gold standard. In 1857, the values of certain foreign
silver coins were fixed in law, with the 1 baht = 0.6 Straits
dollar and 5 baht = 7 Indian rupees. Before 1880 the exchange
rate was fixed at eight baht per pound sterling (not too far
from today’s rate, as it happens), falling to ten to the pound
during the 1880s.
In 1902, the government began to increase
the value of the baht by following all increases in the value of
silver against gold but not reducing it when the silver price
fell. Beginning at 21.75 baht equaling 1 British pound, the
currency rose in value until in 1908, a fixed peg to the British
pound was established of 13 baht to 1 pound. This was revised to
12 baht in 1919 and then, after a period of instability, to 11
baht in 1923. During the Second World War, the Thai baht was
fixed at a value of 1 Japanese yen.
From 1956 until 1973, the baht was pegged
to the U.S. dollar at an exchange rate of 20.8 baht to 1 dollar
and then at 20 baht to 1 dollar until 1978. A strengthening US
economy caused Thailand to re-peg its currency at 25 to the
dollar from 1985 until July 1997, when Thailand had to devalue
the baht about 20% against the US dollar, as a result of intense
pressure in the foreign exchange market. Currency speculators
and Thai residents alike were trying to sell the baht and buy
the US dollar, causing and worsening capital flight out of the
country. The Thai government was running out of its foreign
reserves and losing market confidence in maintaining the
currency value and financial stability. In the process, interest
rates increased substantially as the outflow of short-term
The previously inflated stock and real
estate markets went on to collapse and led to Thailand's worst
recession in the postwar period with sharply rising unemployment
and business failures. The decision to devalue the baht affected
other neighboring countries in the Southeast Asian region. The
devaluation of the baht lowered the prices of Thai exports,
pressuring other currencies to do the same. Indonesia's rupiah
was particularly vulnerable, as it had to be devalued by about
90% over the period of just a few months. In similar nature to
Thailand, interest rates were rising sharply, as capital flight
from Indonesia was accelerating. The subsequent turmoil in the
financial markets and the economy as a whole in Indonesia has
been even more severe than that in Thailand, due to a complete
collapse in both the financial and political system in that
country. In consequence, former President Suharto had to resign
as a first step towards the restoration of market confidence in
the Indonesian government.
The Thai baht has since stabilized, and
risen to about 33 per dollar.
Interest Rate Hikes: In 2005, Thailand's
inflation rate reached a six-year high of 3.7 percent when the
government of Thailand raised the price of diesel fuel by
approximately 20% due to the surging prices of oil. The Central
Bank of Thailand decided to take action as it raised its
interest rates by a quarter-point to the highest interest rate
since December of 2001.
Before 1860, Thailand did not produce coins
using modern methods we’re familiar with now. Instead, a kind of
‘bullet’ coinage was used, consisting of bars of metal, thicker
in the middle, bent round to form a complete circle on which
identifying marks were stamped. Denominations issued included
1⁄128, 1⁄64, 1⁄32, 1⁄16, ⅛, ½, 1, 1½, 2, 2½, 4, 4½, 8, 10, 20,
40 and 80 baht in silver, and 1⁄32, 1⁄16, ⅛, ½, 1, 1½, 2 and 4
baht in gold. Between 1858 and 1860, foreign trade coins were
also stamped by the government for use in Thailand. This system
was obviously not destined to go on forever!
In 1860, coins in the more familiar sense
of the word were introduced. These were silver 1 sik, 1 fuang, 1
and 2 salung, 1, 2 and 4 baht, with the baht weighing 15.244
grams and the others weight related. Tin 1 solot and 1 att
followed in 1862, with gold 2½, 4 and 8 baht introduced in 1863
and copper 2 and 4 att in 1865. Copper replaced tin in the 1
solot and 1 att in 1874, with copper 4 att introduced in 1876.
The last gold coins for general circulation were struck in 1895.
In 1897, the first coins denominated in
satang were introduced, cupro-nickel 2½, 5, 10 and 20 satang.
However, 1 solot, 1 and 2 att coins were struck until 1905 and 1
fuang coins were struck until 1910. In 1908, holed 1, 5 and 10
satang coins were introduced, with the 1 satang in bronze and
the 5 and 10 satang in nickel. The 1 and 2 salung were replaced
by 25 and 50 satang coins in 1915. In 1937, holed, bronze ½
satang were issued.
In 1941, a series of silver coins was
introduced in denominations of 5, 10 and 20 satang, due to a
shortage of nickel caused by WWII. The next year, tin coins were
introduced for 1, 5 and 10 satang, followed by 20 satang in 1945
and 25 and 50 satang in 1946. In 1950, aluminium-bronze 5, 10,
25 and 50 satang were introduced whilst, in 1957, bronze 5 and
10 satang were issued, along with 1 baht coins struck in an
unusual alloy of copper, nickel, silver and zinc.
Eagle-eyed coin collectors will notice that
Thai coins were issued for many years without changing the date.
These include the tin 1942 1 satang and the 1950 5 and 10
satang, struck until 1973, the tin 1946 25 satang struck until
1964, the tin 50 satang struck until 1957, and the aluminium
bronze 1957 5, 10, 25 and 50 satang struck until the 1970s.
Cupro-nickel 1 baht coins were introduced in 1962 and struck
without date change until 1982.
In 1972, cupro-nickel 5 baht coins were
introduced, switching to cupro-nickel-clad copper in 1977.
Between 1986 and 1988, a new coinage was introduced, consisting
of aluminium 1, 5 and 10 satang, aluminium-bronze 25 and 50
satang, cupro-nickel 1 baht, cupro-nickel-clad-copper 5 baht and
bimetallic 10 baht. Cupro-nickel-clad-steel 2 baht were
introduced in 2005.
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