The history of Thailand currency traces the evolution of the
medium of exchange used in Thailand prior to the 1st century.
This dates from the days of barter trade, ancient beads and
money in various shapes and sizes till the currency in modern
Ancient beads, seeds, bracelets and pebbles used as a
medium of exchange in the early days around 200 ? 300
BC, have been discovered in Thailand, including old
Roman copper coins dating back to 270 BC!
During the 1st ? 7th centuries, metallic coins of the
Funan Kingdom in Indochina made their appearance
in Thailand, followed by Dvaravati coins in the 7th ?
11th centuries. This was followed by a period in the history of
Thai currency when money in different shapes and sizes from
various places were in use.
Sandal wood flower coins or Dok Jan coins from the
Sri Vijaya Kingdom in SE Asia were introduced in
trade in the region in the 8th ? 13th centuries. Cowrie shells
and baked clay coins were also used from the pre-
Sukhothai era until the reign of King Rama IV, when they were dropped from circulation.
From the 14th ? 19th centuries, coins from the
Lanna Kingdom in the northern Thailand embossed
with various designs were also in circulation. Around the same
period, 15th ? 19th centuries, Lanchang, the kingdom in
northeastern Thailand introduced silver and copper
pieces in long and narrow boat shapes.
In the history of Thai currency, the money that was most
enduring was Pot Duang or bullet money. This first
appeared during the Sukhothai era, 13th ? 14th
centuries. Pot Duang money were hand-made coins. Metal
strips were bent and folded into spheres very much like a
bullet, thus the name, bullet money.
Bullet money was in circulation for 600 years from the
Sukhothai era to Rattanakosin until its withdrawal from
circulation in 1904 during the reign of King Rama V.
The most profound changes in the history of Thai currency
occurred during the Rattankosin era in the reigns of
King Rama IV and King Rama V. Standardized factory
minted coins and bank notes were officially
During the reign of King Rama IV, when foreign trade and
diplomatic relations expanded, the paper money, in the form of
royal promissory notes, was issued in 1853. These were
followed by bank notes issued by the foreign to facilitate trade
In 1857, Queen Victoria of Britain presented Thailand with the
first minting machine and the minting of the first Thai silver
coins commenced. In 1858, a minting machine purchased from
Britain and the Royal Mint was set up in the Grand Palace and
the minting of coins went ahead full steam.
In the reign of King Rama IV, money was denominated in
satang, tho, phi, padueng and baht.
During the reign of King Rama V, or King Chulalongkorn,
coinage was streamlined. The numerous denominations were
reduced to only two, satang and baht, based on the
metric system, which remain till this day. Bank notes issued
were in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 40,80, 100, 400 and 800 baht.
Today, the denominations have been streamlined to 25, 50
satang coins, 1, 5, 10 baht coins and 20, 50, 100, 500, 1,000 baht
The history of Thai currency goes back more than 1,000 years,
evolving from ancient beads and bracelets to the modern baht
that's in current use.
The ancient beads, bullet money and old currencies can be
viewed at the Bank of Thailand Museum in Bang Khun Phrom
Palace within the premises of the Central Bank of Thailand.
The History of Thai currency first appeared in Tour Bangkok Legacies, a travel
website with a historical perspective of renowned places preserved
for posterity and the legendary figures who left these legacies
in the landscape of Bangkok. The author, Eric Lim, is a freelance writer who lives in Bangkok Thailand.