Richard McCully

Making hay while the exchange rate shines

For those heading back to the UK or sending money home, it's all hail the mighty Baht!

One British pound is worth around 39.5 Thai baht right now. What a great time to be going back to the UK on holiday! 

The comments sections of notable news sites and forums are full of people bemoaning the fate of tourists arriving here, as well as Thai exporters and those expats being ‘forced out’ of the country because of the exchange rate.  However, I can’t wait to get back to England in two weeks time where I’ll have roughly 25% more in my pocket than when I traveled back in 2014. 

Whilst there are those on pensions and salaries in USD / GBP / EUR etc who are struggling, it really is a fantastic time to get paid in baht. 

Eat, drink and be merry!

My local pub back home sells proper beer for around £3.50. That means I’ll be paying around 140 baht a pint, just slightly more than happy hour prices here, and getting a much better drink. 

I’ll be able to go into clothes stores, which I find are normally cheaper than Bangkok anyway, and get a few more items than I planned. 

Those multi-packs of chocolate, biscuits and other snacks from the Pound Shops are now even better value than they were before. 

It's visit the UK year for everyone!

Sure, I don’t have to pay for accommodation or transport whilst home which are probably the two biggest money drainers for tourist in the UK. Even so, with the large number of free to enter sites, and passes to attractions, it must be an attractive time for Thai people (and other expats working in Thailand) to visit the UK. 

Personally, I’ll visit a couple of museums in London (free), take in a pre-season football match (£12) and enjoy the parks without worrying about costs. It’s a great time for Brits in Thailand, who are paid in baht, to go home for a trip!

Even trips to restaurants will be comparable to eating in Thailand. At a half decent place here in Thailand it’s pretty usual for me to spend around 300 baht a head for food and drinks. I’d guess it’s not too hard to get a main course and drink for the same price, or perhaps slightly more, in the UK. 

Sure you could argue the 40 baht street food places aren’t available in the UK but I don’t go to those anyway. I’ll probably even cook a little at the family house too, with all those ingredients that you can’t get in Thailand and it’ll be pretty reasonable too. Certainly I’ve noticed my shopping bills creep up year on year in Thai supermarkets. 

The mighty Baht

Talk of ‘manipulation’ of the baht is rife in the comments section of many news sites and forums. I’m not an economist so don’t really know the forces behind what’s going on. In the end, the situation is currently benefiting me so I’ll just smile when I transfer money over to the UK. In the future it might change and when it does, I guess the savings on this trip will be evened out. 

I’m sure there are also plenty of teachers who are benefiting from the current exchange rate. The baht is the strongest performing ASEAN currency, this is obviously helping teachers from these countries who are based here and support family back home. Those teachers paying back student loans and other debts are also smiling at the moment with the current exchange rates. 

Over a five year period the baht has gone from around 53 baht to 39.5 baht versus the pound. Sure there must be people who are feeling the pinch but hopefully they’ve planned for this and not just hoped the exchange rate would remain static. 

If people are forced to leave the country because of this then it’s unfortunate but shows that, perhaps, they weren’t really in a financially secure position to come here in the first place. 

The exchange rate conversations online might look all doom and gloom but there are times when it works in your favor. When it was 70 odd baht to the pound I’m sure people weren’t complaining that the baht was too weak when they were bringing money over from other countries. 

You take the rough with the smooth. Right now is the time to make the most of your baht and use it to travel or move money abroad. Lets hope the baht gains a little more over the coming weeks before I travel back! 

If you enjoyed this blog, check out my website - Life in a New Country  

Richard is co-author of a great new book on planning a life in Thailand. 

Planning your new life in Thailand isn’t easy. There are many hurdles to jump and potential frustrations galore. From practicalities through to cultural issues, from finances to fitting in and making friends, there is so much to learn. Luckily, you will find all the basics explained in this 282 page book. 

Settling in Thailand takes a broad, insightful and balanced approach – neither too cynical nor evangelical, this book sets a precedent in terms of presenting a positive but realistic and non-judgemental description of Thailand life for foreign residents. 

Written by two British expats in Thailand, and with interviews with another 13 expats from around the world, you will get first-hand experience, advice and explanations of expat life in Thailand. With a combined 150 years of Thai experience this book is the ultimate guide to making sure your move and settling in Thailand goes smoothly.

Order now in e-book or paperback format.


'If people are forced to leave the country because of this then it's unfortunate but shows that, they weren't really in a financially secure position to come here in the first place.'

Richard, for your information the Thai baht traditionally averaged 63 baht to the British pound, and a decade and half or so ago it peaked at 75 baht. And as you correctly wrote at the time of your blog there were 39.95 baht to the pound, still soon after that it got down to 37.16, and now it's back to 39 baht for £!00!

Accordingly, bearing that mentality in mind, you are stating that you are a 'belt and braces' kind of man. The type of person who pays installments of almost double a pension company's forecast to warrant a comfortable retirement fund.

So, I'll put it to you that when or if you buy, or have bought a property, you will borrow or have borrowed, only slightly over half as much as you can afford or could have afforded to borrow; because the interest repayment rates might almost double.

Further, that when you got your book printed you surely must have ordered just over half as many copies as the amount you projected that, you could have sold.

Moreover, that when you venture to go from one side of the road to the other, you allow yourself twice as much time to cross as you believe necessary. Therefore, you obviously don't live in Bangkok, cause you would still be standing there.

'Belt and braces' expats rarely if ever end up here as we are the sort that 'fly by the seat of our pants'!

By Richard Constable, Bang Na (29th January 2020)

Just got back from the UK. 3 weeks of glorious weather, decent beer and pub grub. It's the third time I've taken the wife over there and this time, we just cashed up my July salary into pound notes and took it with us. We even came back with a small wad for next time. England is, in many ways, a lot cheaper ( and healthier! ) than living in Thailand - so I agree that now is a great time to visit if you've got some spare baht to play with.

By George, Bangkok (3rd August 2019)

Enjoy your trip home, Richard.
You had better take an extra suitcase with you for all those Poundland goodies!

By Phil, Samut Prakarn (10th July 2019)

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