Andrew Leeson


Opening a bank in Thailand
Thailand is one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations. Every year close to a million Aussies visit the Land of Smiles, so it’s no surprise that a growing number are choosing to stay for a lot longer than the traditional one or two week holiday. If you’re planning on a 3, 6 or 12 month stay, or perhaps even retiring to Thailand, you’re going to need a local bank account. So how do you go about getting one? And which bank should you use?

An Introduction to Banking ‘Thai Style’

For anyone staying in Thailand for any length of time, one of the first things expats need to do is open a bank account. And as with opening an account in Australia, there are a number of hurdles you need to jump over (with a few Thai ‘twists’ to make things interesting!) One of these ‘twists’ is finding the best branch to help you open an account. Not all branches are created equal, and some are more flexible than others.

In this blog we’ll focus on Bangkok (where the head offices are) but if you are opening an account in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin or Pattaya, it probably makes sense to do some research with the local expat clubs on what they recommend. (These clubs are a great source of local information).

Another major positive with picking a branch which is familiar with opening accounts for expats is that there will usually be at least one member of staff who speaks good English. 

Setting up an Account

Generally it’s a pretty good idea to bring originals of everything you’d expect to open account. These include;
Note: Historically it was possible to open a bank account on a short term Tourist Visa, however this has become increasingly difficult to do. Whilst not impossible, gaining access to your cash can be problematic, and often they will only open US$ accounts for non-residents.

Which Bank to pick?

Bangkok Bank


Bangkok Bank is widely regarded a Thailand’s most expat friendly bank, and with over 18 million account holders, it is also the largest in the country. It offers a broad range of services and has arguably the best exchange rate on international money transfers of the Thai banks. The main branch for opening an account is located at 333 Silom Road.

Kasikorn BANK

Kasikorn Bank can also be found throughout Thailand, with a good range of services, and has a more accessible credit card than is the case with Bangkok Bank. It’s primary expat friendly branch can be found at Sukhumvit Soi 33.

Siam Commercial Bank (SCB)

The third of Thailand’s big three banks is Siam Commercial Bank (SCB). Again, the bank can be found throughout the country and offers all the traditional banking services you’d expect. It’s mobile app is generally regarded as the best in financial services sector. The key branch is at Asok, on Sukhumvit Soi 21.


Of the International Banks, Citibank would be the pick. It offers a great range of accounts and credit card options, and is particularly strong in cross border transactions. For expats based in Bangkok, Citi could well be a good choice, but if based elsewhere in Thailand it’s limited network may be an issue. The main branch is right on the corner of Sukhumvit and Asok roads, opposite the Terminal 21 shopping complex.

Decisions, decisions…

Of the choices, we’d probably favour Bangkok Bank. The experience of actually opening the account will often be very dependent on the person at the bank who is assisting you, but once open, you’ll generally find Bangkok Bank will be able to meet your local banking requirements.

What services are available?

Each bank will have its own fancy names for various accounts and debit/credit cards, but they largely serve the same purpose, and usually have similar characteristics as the same products found in Australia. All the banks have detailed websites (available in English) which can provide you with lots of information on all their products and services. These include;
Note: Whilst the banks offer foreign exchange services, it is very unlikely they will offer the best exchange rates. Obtaining the best rates requires some research and will be the subject of a separate blog in the future. Needless to say, we’d suggest shopping around’.

Settling in

Opening a local bank account is just one of the many things to consider when moving to a new home overseas. Yes, it can be a bit of a chore, but once established, it can add a degree of comfort and make settling in just that bit easier. Take your time, chat to the local community and we’re certain you’ll find the right bank that suits your requirments. If you’d like more information on retirement or long stays in Asia, please feel free to call 1800-961-377 or email in**@re**********.au and let the team at Retire to Asia help make your dream lifestyle a reality.

If you’d like more information or have any questions, please feel free to call 1800-961-377 or email in**@re**********.au and let the team at Retire to Asia help make your dream lifestyle a reality.

Andrew Leeson

Andrew Leeson

Over 20 years of experience helping people live a better life in SE Asia. Having worked in financial services in Asia I understand the challenges when moving to and living in a new country. I have travelled extensively throughout the region and experienced what SE Asia has to offer to retirees.

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