Phuket is perhaps the most difficult tourist area in Thailand for a tourist. Everyone out there is ready to fleece you. The things that cost 150 THB in Krabi or Pattaya will easily cost 200 THB or more in Phuket. There is no transparency and much of the stuff a tourist needs is controlled by agents. I will give an example: There is a nice shared mini van service from Phuket Airport to Patong that costs 180 THB per person, a fixed price thankfully. Logically speaking there should be a return service too, from Patong to Phuket Airport at a fixed price and from a fixed location. But there is none. While buying a ticket from the mini van counter at Phuket airport to go the Patong, I asked the staff there about the return service. The lady at the counter said: “Only one way”. I asked her again: “So do the vans return to the airport empty?” She did not reply. She did not want to spoil the party of travel agents in Patong.
I know this article is about money exchange rates and I seem to be digressing. Trust me, in this article I will tell you where to find the best money exchange rates in Phuket but I have a reason for writing all this first. I want to emphasize that travel industry in Phuket tries to fleece tourists. Even the immigration officers at Phuket Airport are scamsters.
About money exchange, till about a year ago, it was difficult to find an exchange shop in Patong that offered good money exchange rates like Super Rich Thailand in Bangkok or T.T. Currency Exchange in Pattaya. That was one of the complaints that I had about Phuket. Thankfully again, later I found that the exchange situation had changed.
Best Money Exchange Rates in Patong (Phuket)
To understand what exchange rates are good in Thailand, you are going to need benchmarks. One – a national benchmark for Thailand, and two – a local benchmark for Phuket. Both are easy to find. I have seen that the best money exchange rates in Bangkok (offered by Super Rich Thailand) are also the best exchange rates available anywhere in Thailand. So if you know the exchange rate for any currency offered by Super Rich Thailand, you have your national benchmark. You can see the live exchange rates offered by Super Rich Thailand here. You may see this rate for your currency while travelling to Phuket. This national benchmark will help you in knowing how much extra you are paying for buying THB in Phuket. Just a clarification, do not change currency at any Thai airport (unless you need to) because airport rates are always bad. Once you reach Patong, this is where you need to go for the best exchange rates and also to know the local Patong benchmark.
Patong 24 Hour Open Best Money Exchange
On the Jungceylon Mall side of Soi Bangla (Bangla Road), there is a bar across the road from Bangla, called Tai Pan. In front of Tai Pan you will find this small exchange counter that says “Exchange – Best Rate – Open 24 Hours”. This is the kind of blessing that tourists need in a tough place like Phuket. Actually best exchange rates at the entrance of Soi Bangla and that too open 24 hours. I will give you an idea of the exchange rates there. When I entered Thailand, the exchange counter at DMK Airport was offering 32.09 THB per US Dollar. I changed my money on the same day at T.T. Cuurency Exchange in Pattaya at the rate of 33.13 THB. Five days later in Patong, the exchange counters run by Thai banks were offering anything between 32.00 and 32.60 THB for a USD. This exchange counter outside Tai Pan restaurant in patong was selling THB at the rate of 32.96 per USD at that time. And you can trust me on this because I spent over an hour walking around Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Road, Soi San Sabai, and Beach Road trying to find any exchange shop that could beat this counter. There was none. The best I could find anywhere was 32.92. That would also not be bad if such an exchange shop happened to be near your hotel.
Other Best Options
There are several money exchange counters scattered on Bangla Road, and some of which claim to be open 24 hours. Those counters would likely offer 32.90 against the best available rate of 32.96 and are actually good if you do not want to walk far. There are similar exchange shops on Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Road and also on Beach Road that offer rates close to 32.92 or even 32.95 for 100 USD bills. Just walk around and you will find them.
Value Plus Exchange Counter on Soi San Sabai
Entry to Soi San Sabai is next to Jungceylon Mall on Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Road. About a 100 meters inside the Soi, you will find this exchange counter called “Value Plus”. This counter opens from 10.00am to 4.00am and is a good choice for changing money on Soi San Sabai but their exchange rate for USD as you can see on their display was 32.88 as compared to the best rate of 32.96. Value Plus, therefore, does not offer the best echange rates in Phuket. I saw one more Value Plus counter somewhere in Patong during my stay, and there may be more.
Another Good Option
If it really matters to you, I can suggest one more place that is good to change money in Patong. I used to change my money at this shop before the “Best Rate” fever caught on in Patong. This small green exchange counter can be found at the entry of Sainamyen Centre Point on Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Road in front of Hotel Patong Sub Inn. If you come out of Soi Bangla on Jungceylon end, turn left and walk for about 5-7 minutes. You will find this shop on the right side of the road. They open from 9.00am to 11.00pm. The exchange rates here will be very close to the best rates.