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Whilst on tour you will need to take enough money to cover the cost of any meals not included in the holiday and for drinks, tipping and other incidentals including shopping and optional activities. We recommend that you have access to more than one source of money while travelling in Asia - bringing some cash, a credit card and an ATM debit card (or travel card) will give you the most security and flexibility.
Counterfeit cash is a problem throughout Asia, so shop owners and clerks at banks or exchange desks are very cautious and can refuse to accept notes in bad condition. Do not accept any notes that are torn, very faded, a different shade, have ink stamps or writing on them. If you accept the notes or sign the exchange receipt and then notice a problem later, you will not be able to exchange them.
Be prepared with enough cash in hand for the first 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 You will need to present your passport, airline ticket and some receipts of the money exchanged/withdrawn within the country you are visiting.
Outside of major towns banking becomes less reliable and requires you to plan ahead. If you are travelling to remote areas on one of our experiential tours, you should take cash in USD as Australian Dollars are not always recognised.
Taking one credit/debit card is recommended in case of emergency and may be used for large purchases in most of your 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.
We recommend that you take photocopies of your credit card details and that the copies are kept in various sections of your luggage - i.e. not where the originals are kept.
ATMs can be a good source of travel money, especially in major cities, but we strongly recommend that you do not rely on this method – although there appear to be many ATMs, they often run out of cash, have different minimum withdrawal amounts, may not be in English and reject foreign cards. If you do need to use an ATM, it is recommended to use an official bank ATM. Try to withdraw as few times as possible because overseas withdrawal fees can be very high. Check with your bank before departing Australia.