You might have had a similar experience I did regarding a MasterCard payment glitch when a POS swipe machine would register a ‘payment not accepted’ error. Probably you’ve had successful transactions using your MasterCard with a specific store and then suddenly two consecutive attempts on separate occasions deters you from swiping it again. Sometimes the problem would be in one specific store and the other stores seem to not have a problem with accepting payments from it.
I would normally purchase my afternoon tea or frappe at a McCafe nearby with a MasterCard but until two weeks ago I had to use my alternative Visa card because of the payment not accepted error. I could still use the MasterCard to pay for my groceries. It could be McDonald’s POS system not functioning properly but I attempted to use it the week after that and it was still unsuccessful.
The curious thing was the same MasterCard is connected to my LINE Wallet and when I used my personal scan code (which I had set to automatically charge my MasterCard) for the Rabbit Line Pay machine, the payment came through just fine. So that rules out a possible system outage on the part of MasterCard.
This is why sometimes having a mobile wallet is advantageous. I could not really point out where the real glitch came from and I was glad I was observant that there always had been a Rabbit Line Pay beside McCafe’s POS.
Should I exchange my money before leaving? Or should I use the ATM abroad to withdraw abroad? The answer to that would depend on the currency of the country you’re heading to and try to do the USD/Your Home Country’s Currency and Currency of The Country You’re Visiting/USD exchange rate comparison.
On ATM Withdrawal:
For the past year up to the present, the USD to THB (Thai Baht) exchange rate fares well compared to PHP (Philippine Peso) to THB. My Payoneer MasterCard, for example, is in USD currency and if I use it to withdraw at an ATM in Thailand, I probably would get 200 baht more compared to using a GCash MasterCard to withdraw THB money which is in PHP currency by default.
An ATM in Thailand from a bank called Siam Commercial Bank (colour violet) would prompt me if I wanted to follow the bank’s conversion rate displayed on the screen. There also is an additional 220 baht withdrawal fee. From countless withdrawals with the SCB ATM machine, I noticed that choosing the option of NOT following the bank’s conversion rate was preferable. I also tried the Krungsri Bank ATM machine many times but it would not give me the option to view the bank’s conversion rate.
On Exchanging Currency:
I do not recommend exchanging money three ways. Stick to the bills on hand and exchange them at a currency exchanger WITHIN the city or locale you’re in. Exchanging my money at an airport almost always gets me 500 baht or 350,000 dong short. That’s a lot. Local currency exchangers (and legal ones, please) often have the best rates – the kind of rate that’s closest to what you would see on the XE mobile app.
Here’s the slip of a currency exchanger at the airport (arrivals) in Don Mueang:
At the time, 1 VND was equivalent to 0.0013 on the XE mobile app. It fluctuates between 0.0012 and 0.0014. What’s interesting was when I exchanged my Vietnamese dong into Thai baht at a local exchanger in Ben Thanh Market before leaving HCM a month and a half ago, the rate they had was 1 VND = 0.0013 THB.
Before I left Thailand for HCM in early October, I went to a local exchanger to exchange my baht into dong. The rate of the local exchanger was similar to that of XE’s.
Here are the details of the currency exchanger I recommend:
As a Philippine passport holder, it took me a year to find out that a tourist visa extension beyond 30 days is possible here in Thailand. Before 2018, I thought that I could only apply for a 2-month visa in the Thai Embassy in the Philippines and that it ought to be done right before leaving the home country.
Still, after having found out in mid-2018 that it is very much possible to do a visa extension within Thailand for a Philippine passport holder like me, I began having the impression that immigration rules are as fickle as the officers implementing them.
Prior to my first tourist visa extension attempt in Thailand, I had already taken advantage of a hassle-free Vietnam tourist visa application online. Philippine passport holders can enter Vietnam visa-free for 21 days but can avail of a 30-day or 3-month stay visa on arrival at this link. I stayed in Hanoi for 90 days in two separate trips before August 2018. Tip: Applying for a visa on arrival online is cheaper compared to doing it within Vietnam.
A week before my 30-day visa expiration in Thailand, I decided to go to the Immigration Building in Chaengwattana. I have Cai to thank for writing this helpful guide about how he went about with his visa extension in Thailand although he needs to update the faulty link he entered there for the TM 7 Form download.
Staying in Nonthaburi meant I did not have go through the same route as Cai explained in his blog post. I simply booked a Grab Car ride to and from the hotel.
Outside the Chaengwattana Immigration Division Government Complex
Inside Building B
Cai also wrote in the article that he was able to successfully get stamped for a visa extension twice. For tourist visa extension, this is not entirely true. Back in 2014 or 2015 Thai Immigration Bureau amended their stipulations regarding visa extensions for some countries, Philippines included, which allowed for 1 30-day visa extension only per trip. I know this because I applied for a second consecutive 30-day visa extension and the immigration officer declined my application but gave me a 7-day grace period instead. It was not bad luck on my part as their immigration rules state this on their website. You can also read about it in other travel forums.
My recent visa extension experience this week was rather disappointing. I went to the Immigration Building in Chaengwattana thinking all I have to worry would be the long wait but it was even more stressful than that. The well-meaning immigration officer glanced at the second page of my TM 7 form and cursorily encircled Nonthaburi with her pen. As I strained to hear what she was trying to explain to me in English, my heart sank when she informed me that I was in the wrong immigration office. She referred me to the Nonthaburi Immigration Office.
I did a little bit of Google search about cases of foreigners being referred to the Nonthaburi Immigration Office and it’s curious I stumbled upon a blog post detailing that same ordeal I just had dated December 2015. Can you imagine that?! Back in August and September 2018, nobody in Chaengwattana ever told me I was supposed to be in the other immigration office even when I’ve always stayed in the same hotel.
I traveled to Bang Kruai where the Nonthaburi Immigration Office is located, hopeful I could still get a visa extension stamp within the day. I had all my documents in order – a TM 7 form and a photocopy of my TM 6 (departure card) and arrival stamp page on my passport. The officer browsed through them and handed me another form. It was the TM 30 form which was to be filled up by the owner or the manager of the hotel I’m staying in. At that point I decided to call it a day and went back to the hotel to hand the TM 30 over to the receptionists on duty.
Two days later the hotel manager accompanied me to the Nonthaburi Immigration Office. As I watched the conversation exchange between the immigration officer I was assigned to and the hotel manager, it dawned on me that I wouldn’t have felt so accomplished that day if she hadn’t shown up. The officer kept coming back to her about that one piece of paper which looked like some sort of certification or ownership.
In a nutshell, landlords or hotel owners/managers are required to register the foreigners staying in their property within 24 hours. This is the reason why the receptionist would ask for my passport and TM 6 departure card upon arrival to make sure they have me on file. You can read more about it here.
For the third time I’ve been doing this, I wasn’t asked about a return ticket or at least a ticket out of Thailand. I do have a departure ticket from Thailand to Vietnam for December 24th which I booked last month.
It was 4:16 pm by the time my appointment there. The office closes at 4:30 pm. I was so relieved to not have to think about this visa extension problem over the weekend and worry about re-booking my ticket just in case.
If you’re ever planning to extend your stay in Thailand, make sure you download the TM 30 form from Nonthaburi’s Immigration website.
I get it that progress and change go together. Unfortunately, it was not a seamless transition from Grab Pay credits to Moca Wallet by Grab Vietnam.
My last week in Ho Chi Minh was beset by trivialities such as seeing my Grab Pay credits get replaced by a Moca Wallet activation and debating whether or not I should exchange my Vietnamese dong into Thailand baht within HCM. Things have a way of working out to your favor by the time you’re done stressing over it but the Grab Pay by Moca problem still confounds me so I hope this helps anyone who’s encountered the same problem I did.
So, where did my Grab Pay credits go? When I tapped on Activate for Moca wallet, I had this inkling it would involve locally issued ATM cards. I knew this from attempting to register to a number of Vietnamese mobile apps which usually exclude international cards from being linked to the mobile app account. Moca Wallet was no different.
I could still pay rides using my GCash MasterCard or GCash AmEx by changing the payment method before confirming a Grab ride booking. I tried it with a few discounted rides (ones which charged me 0 VND) until I booked a Grab Bike ride with a promo code which required 2,000 VND to pay, which is like Php5 or PhP6. It was strange that my GCash MasterCard could not successfully deduct Php5 since I’ve used it before to top up Grab Pay credits in Vietnam and have used it in Thailand for paying Grab rides. I had PhP1, 750 in my GCash balance.
I thought it was a MasterCard-related issue or a GCash faux pas. I tried it with GCash AmEx and with a Visa card issued by another bank and I still would get the Unsuccessful error message.
Like other Grabbers in Vietnam, I was left with no choice but to continue with cash when I took a Grab ride to the international airport.
But, lo and behold, shortly upon arriving Don Mueang International Airport in Thailand, I got the long-awaited “Success” message. Of course, I inserted my AIS sim back in the plane and once I disabled Airplane Mode I updated my Grab profile’s country and sim number.
The app prompted me the 2,000 VND outstanding balance before I could book a ride. I re-entered my AmEx number as I intended to use it for pay with the airport to hotel fare with the same card. It didn’t even take me many attempts to be able to see the “Success” message. I received a text notification of the amount deducted.
Grab Support reached out to me again to follow up my concern. I replied that the problem was solved once I was in another territory and pointed out that the REAL problem was Grab Vietnam’s forceful Moca wallet activation.
So you’re planning a trip outside of the Philippines but just within Southeast Asia and you’re asking yourself, can I use Grab overseas? The answer is yes. But can I use Grab overseas and still have my Grab rewards points intact? The answer is also yes.
Sometime last year I went out of the country and used my Grab mobile app overseas. This entailed a change to the local sim card and when I landed in NAIA 3 after my trip, I saw my Grab rewards points restarted to zero even though I had the same email address with which I registered my Grab account with. No one in Grab Support could satisfactorily address my concern.
Since they overhauled their system, the option to link one’s Grab account to a Google account or a Facebook account has become available. This feature helped keep the rewards points intact even if you are changing your Philippine sim card to a local one. I’ve done this in Thailand and Vietnam. I would insert my Thai or Vietnam sim card once I arrive at the airport or at the land border. As I had emphasized in this article, I do recommend using a local sim if you plan to get around as much as you can in Southeast Asia where Grab transport service is available. I cannot stress enough how it is the safest option for tourists.
The catalog for rewards points redeemable vary from one country to another. I had wanted that iFlix subscription for 1 year for Platinum Members worth 2,100 points but the Grab Vietnam market does not offer it as it was only available in the Philippines.
When traveling overseas we may overlook the fact that not all debit cards can be used in a lot of ATM machines. I would always recommend to bring two or more debit cards. I currently have the GCash MasterCard and RCBC MyWallet for the meantime.
I also have my PayMaya physical card which is already linked to my verified PayMaya virtual card account but I am excluding it for now because of the Ph500 roaming fee my Smart postpaid account would automatically charge me once I insert my SIM to a working phone here while being overseas. As PayMaya now requires a text verification upon logging in to the PayMaya mobile app, I don’t think it’s worth it using my Smart postpaid SIM when I have two other debit card alternatives.
In Thailand, I could withdraw funds from my GCash MasterCard in most ATM machines. Most 7-Eleven stores in Thailand have ATM machines outside the premises but you have to also make sure the ATM machine is not that of a local bank. As for the RCBC MyWallet, I have tried withdrawing cash from it in both Siam Commercial Bank and Krungsri ATM machines and have been able to transact successfully.
I should also like to mention that solely depending on GCash MasterCard is not a good option because of the monthly withdrawal limit. There were times when I’ve reached my limit in GCash on the last day of the month and I had to wait for the next day, the first day of the next month, to do a withdrawal. In case waiting might pose a hassle for you, it’s good to have other options too.
It gets tricky here in Vietnam for the RCBC MyWallet. Techcom Bank, BIDV Bank, Lienviet Post Bank, Vietcom Bank and Maritime Bank are the most common ATM machines I could run into and GCash would be accepted in all of these. The only ATM where I found I could use my RCBC MyWallet is that of VP Bank. Unlike Vietcom and Techcombank, you won’t come across VP Bank ATM machines in most big malls. I had to research VP Bank ATM locations online.
I do find my travelling situation to be unique but I hope this has helped anyone who has trouble finding a bank in Vietnam they can withdraw their funds with using RCBC MyWallet.
If you’ve come to this page for information on where to buy cheap (but quality) luggage in Bangkok, then I am sure you’ve also encountered other Google search results about travel forums talking about the same topic. I also know that one of the advice you read from those travel forums mentions MBK as one of those places where you can buy cheap luggage in Bangkok. I did go to MBK my first time here in Bangkok and even though you can haggle with the small store owners, I would not recommend it and I am writing this to give you, readers, another convenient option.
There is no shortage of buying cheap luggage in Bangkok and hailing from the Philippines myself and once in a while trying to convert my baht into pesos in my head, I have come to know the difference. My first stay in Bangkok was in May this year for two weeks and I arrived here in Nonthaburi (same place I stayed at before) on July 2nd and am about to leave on July 30th, that’s in two days from now. During these two separate visits, I have bought 2 luggages.
When I tried going to MBK because Caucasian and European travelers alike deemed it as one of the best places to buy cheap luggage in Bangkok, I was questioning myself whether or not it was worth heeding that travel forum advice. Since I stayed in Nonthaburi in May, it was quite a travel by taxi to get to MBK. I had to pay for the toll fee once, which the Grab driver was kind enough to let me know. MBK is huge and I did scout each floors for stores selling luggages and after two hours I was not so impressed. So, yeah, you better think twice about what you read on travel forums these days.
I did find a decent page to buy cheap luggage in Bangkok, though. I tried browsing through Lazada.com’s Thailand page. I already have a Lazada account from the Philippines and I did have to sign up again by using my Google sign-in credentials, too. It was shipped to my apartment within two days and best of all, delivery was free. I bought it for 999 Baht; the ones I found in MBK were around 1500 Baht. I did get a better deal and I did not have to go out, pay for the fare and toll fees because the luggage was delivered right to my doorstep.
My second luggage purchase from Lazada Thailand was priced at 890 Baht. I bought it just this month. You have to be aware of the dimensions you want in a luggage. The item description in the website is not lacking in that info. And, yes, I also did get it within two days from ordering it at Lazada Thailand’s website.
If you’re staying more than a week in Bangkok and need to replace your luggage, try to browse through Lazada Thailand. Make sure you tick the option “Ships from Bangkok/Thailand”.
UPDATE: May 1, 2018
Just an FYI to anyone still searching for keywords related to this article, I have been using the 2 luggages I bought in Lazada Thailand for 10 months already and I have been consistently moving from one country to another on an average of every two months or so. Both luggages are still intact despite being constantly on the road.
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 4, 2019
For someone like me who had been travelling 5-6 times a year for that period, I can say my two suitcases bought online at Lazada Thailand have served their purpose for 2 years. I’ve had to say good-bye to these two old suitcases as I decided to buy a new bigger (29″) one so I can check in only one luggage.
I went with the clamp style this time because from past experience, I found the zipper type of the same size only lasted me 2-4 trips. I bought this at a BP World branch in Esplanade Ratchadaphisek for only 2,700 baht. My budget was originally for 4,000 baht for a clamp suitcase type but as I went to check out other shops at the said mall, I found BP World displayed some discounted ones, some at 50%. Try to check out any BP World branches in other malls in Bangkok as well for their discounted suitcases.
I have only ever used the Uber mobile app for the first time when I arrived here in Bangkok a week ago. I had Uber downloaded on my phone about a year ago but could only use GrabTaxi in my hometown.
Upon clearing immigration at the Don Mueang International Airport, I opened Maps to ask for directions from the airport to the place I was staying. Under Ride, UberX mainly comes up along with the fare information. I paid ฿300 for the 20-minute UberX ride. I didn’t even think of comparing the fare with the Grab mobile app as I was in a hurry to leave there. The fact that Uber was integrated within the Maps app is an advantage for Uber.
Seven days, 2 Grab rides and 7 UberX rides later, I can say I’ve mostly had a more pleasant experience with Grab than Uber. Don’t let the quantity fool you. I’d had to raise the issue to Support about being prompted to pay ฿300 again for that first UberX ride. As explained in their Help section, I was apparently overcharged because of a technical issue:
For compensation, we’ve added THB 300 Uber credit to your account to reflect the difference in the amount you paid and what the trip fare should have been. Please note this Uber credit will automatically apply to your next trip fare.
However, In order to make an adjustment for a cash fare, we need you to first settle this outstanding balance. Please note that you will be unable to request rides until this balance is paid.
To pay your account balance, please sign in to your account. You can use a payment method on your account to pay your balance before you request your next trip. Here’s how it works:
1. When you try to request a trip, your app will notify you that your account is in arrears.
2. You’ll be prompted to add a credit or debit card to your Uber account.
3. After you’ve added a card, you can select it as your payment method to pay your arrears in full.
It makes sense to use up my Uber credits than to use Grab more.
What I don’t like about the Uber mobile app, though, is the inability to change my cellular number on file. When I tried to change it, it prompted me to make another account which is totally unnecessary. I don’t know why it would not recognise my Thailand cellular number, even if it’s just a traveler’s sim card. With Grab, I could switch my number on file to the Thai number, despite the latter being a traveler’s sim. Just had to emphasize that.
I also notice way too many glitches with the Uber mobile app. This resulted in so many cancellations by Uber drivers. For a 10-minute walk back to the hotel, it would take me an hour or so to successfully get an Uber ride. I could walk the way back, if only I weren’t carrying some groceries.