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  2. Southeast Asia Travel Information

Spending Money (Southeast Asia)

We recommend you take local currency (see article on Currency) as well as US Dollars. We also recommend taking a debit and/or credit card. Please ensure you have sufficient funds to pay for personal expenses such as drinks, snacks, souvenirs, additional tipping and optional extras. On an average two week tour, we would recommend approx. $500-1,000 per person spending money depending on your needs.

Outside of major cities, local banks do not have any ATMs and are not licensed to exchange foreign currency. Please ensure that you organise your spending money before you leave a major town and take enough cash in local currency or USD to exchange or spend during your stay.

Plan ahead

Be prepared with enough cash in hand for the next few days. Once you have started your tour, you will quickly get a sense of how often or how much you need to exchange money. Try not to leave this to the last minute: exchange desks can close, ATMs can run out of cash and your group could be scheduled to leave your hotel at 7am tomorrow morning!

Keep some of your exchange receipts

You can convert any unused notes into USD at the international airport exchange desks when you depart. You will need to present your passport, airline ticket and some receipts of the money exchanged/withdrawn in Southeast Asia. Some banks in Australia/New Zealand may be able to
convert your money back into dollars, however please check before departing on your tour.

Counterfeit cash

This is a problem in Southeast Asia so shop owners and clerks at banks or exchange desks are very cautious and can refuse to accept notes in bad condition. When purchasing cash before you depart from home, or when exchanging cash during your holiday, it is a good idea to stand at the desk to count and check the condition of each note. Do not accept any notes which are torn, very faded, a different shade, have ink stamps or any writing on them. If you accept the notes and sign the exchange receipt, then later notice a problem, you will not be able to exchange them.
Outside of major towns banking becomes less reliable and requires you to plan ahead. If you are travelling to remote areas, you should take cash in local currency or USD.

Credit/debit card

Taking one credit/debit card is recommended in case of emergency and may be used for large purchases in most hotels, department stores and souvenir stores. The most widely accepted credit cards include Visa, MasterCard and American Express. However, please do not rely on a credit/debit card as your only source of spending money and keep a photocopy of your card(s).
We always recommend that you have access to more than one source of money – bringing a combination of cash and a credit/debit card will give the most security and flexibility while travelling.