Saturday, April 3, 2010

Watch those exchange rates!

We thought we’d planned things pretty well for leaving Thailand. After buying some food for the plane, and donating the remaining loose change, we had four 1,000 Thai bhat (BHT) notes in hand to exchange to Singapore dollars (SGD).

The posted rate at the airport was 22.66, so our 4,000 BHT would be 176.52 SGD. The exchange booth wasn’t near our gate, so we decided to wait until we arrived in Singapore to exchange our notes. First mistake…

Everything on Tiger Airline flights is “extra” but we had expected that no-charge water would be available. Unfortunately not—so when we asked for some water, the smiling hostess unscrewed the caps and passed them to us. “That will be $6.40 sir.”

For two small bottles of water? Yikes! I found my wallet and pulled out one of the notes. “Uh, sorry… all we have are 1,000 bhat notes.”

“No problem sir. At our onboard exchange rate of 27.14, that will be $30.40 less the water, so here is your change in Singapore currency…” Mistake number 2: carry smaller notes!

IMG_4833We arrived very late into Singapore—and learned that Tiger Airlines flies into the “Budget Terminal” instead of the modern Changi terminal. The currency exchange booth was still open, but the rate was 23.53—much better than the rate on the plane, but still more than at Bangkok.

Withdrawing cash from an ATM incurs additional bank charge fees, but having to exchange currency adds even more to the effective exchange rates.