arrangement of colorful thai baht banknotesThe Thai baht is the currency of Thailand and is divided into 100 satang. It is issued by the Bank of Thailand. Its ISO 4217 code is THB, and it is the tenth most most frequently used form of currency in the world. The symbol used for the Thai baht is ฿.

A Brief History

Currency has always been a central part of Thai culture because it was considered a symbol of civilization. Thai currency dates back to the 1st century AD, and the currency of a particular era  often reflects the beliefs, religion, customs, traditions, and culture of that particular era. This has given historians a great deal of insight as to the development and history of Thailand over the centuries.

The baht likely dates back to Sukhothai period (between 1238 and 1438), when bullet coins known as phot duang were in circulation. These phot duang were solid pieces of silver cast to various weights according to the traditional Thai units of measurement of the time, and the baht was one of those units of measurement. The Thai baht, then, originated from a traditional unit of mass—much like the pound.

This system of measurement remained in use until 1897, when new a decimal system was introduced by king Chulalongkorn, where 1 baht was equal to 100 satang. Up until 1902, the baht was defined by its weight in silver—15 ounces for 1 baht. But in 1902, the Thai government sought to increase the value of the baht and make its value less dependent on the rising and falling in value of silver against gold. The baht began at 21.75 baht = 1 British pound, and by 1908 the currency’s value had risen to 13 baht = 1 British pound, and it was pegged there. In 1919 this was revised to 12 baht = 1 British pound, and in 1923 it was revised to 11 baht = 1 British pound. The baht was then pegged to a value of 1 Japanese yen during World War II, and from 1956 to 1978, the baht was pegged to a value of about 20 baht to 1 US dollar. In 1984, this was revised to 25 baht to 1 US dollar due to strengthening of the US dollar, and then in 1997 Thailand was struck by the Asian financial crisis, making the value of the baht plummet to as low as 56 baht to 1 US dollar. The exchange rate of the baht has risen to about 30 baht = 1 US dollar.

Banknotes

Thai baht banknotes come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 baht. They feature King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the obverse, and various monuments, landmarks, historic events, artifacts, and past kings on the reverse.

Coins

Thai baht coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 satang, and 1, 2, 5, and 10 baht. They feature King Bhumibol Adulyadej on the obverse, and various landmarks and areas of Thailand on the reverse.