Opening a Bank Account in Thailand
There is big confusion about who can and who cannot open a bank account in Thailand. This is due to several factors, including the banks themselves not fully understanding their own individual policy on the matter. If you don't have a work permit or long term visa, it is still possible to open an account but it's a bit hit and miss.
For example, most banks have a policy of only accepting foreign customers if they hold a work permit or long term visa, such as a spouse visa, whereas others (at the time of writing, Bangkok Bank and Kasikornbank being big name examples) will allow anyone to open an account if you can supply your passport and a local address. Even so, walk into some branches of these more flexible banks and the staff might flatly refuse to entertain your request.
Your only option is trial and error. If one branch won't accept you as a customer, just walk down the road to another branch and try again. The best bet is with downtown Bangkok branches, especially the ones on Sukhumvit.
Of course, if you already have your paperwork in order, you're unlikely to have any difficulties. Note however, that in nearly all cases, you will need a work permit to have internet banking set up on your account. Credit cards are also only given to those who have long term residency in Thailand, as are chequing accounts.
You should be aware that there are certain restrictions on the amount of Thai Baht you can take out of Thailand but there are no restrictions on the amount you can bring in. See our forum for advice on this. When sending money to your Thai account from overseas, it is usually the case that you'll get a better exchange rate if you insist that the originating bank send the money WITHOUT performing the currency exchange themselves and leaving it for the Thai receiving bank to do the exchange, as you're likely to get a better rate than your home bank would give you. Obviously, check first to be sure.
Once your account is opened, a local ATM card will often be issued immediately. It is also usually possible to request an international ATM card for your account.