I'm in Thailand now working on the AA Keyguide to Thailand, having just left Cambodia, where I finished up the Thomas Cook Travelers' Guide to Cambodia. Now that I'm on the road again, I've had to make use of credit cards on a regular basis to get cash. It has been a bit of a shock to see what fees are up to now. I was charged $50 on a single ATM cash advance--at that is just the bank fees back in the USA. So far, my overall credit card fees have averaged 7%. That does NOT include the money lost on currency exchanges within the bank transactions, and interest I might accrue if I don't pay the balance immediately, or the local ATM fee. There are so many little hidden fees!
Then on top of that there is the 7% Thai VAT (Value Added Tax). Thailand claims tourists can get this refunded, but there is a catch--you must spend at least B2000 (about US$60) in a single shop on a given day in order to qualify to receive the refund request form for that purchase (you also have to have a passport in hand). Then you have to fill it out and take it to the tax office when you leave via the airport (if you exit by land, you can not get the refund). Like refund procedures in other countries, the process is designed to be so difficult that most tourists don't bother with it. I'm also told that tourists don't get a full refund of the VAT. I haven't verified, but others yet have told me its only about 2%.
By the time all the taxes and bank fees and money lost in exchange rates is tallied, you'll be paying somewhere between 15-20% on top of the price tags.
But then this doesn't cover the 10-15% service charges at some hotels and I've found even a few fast-food restaurants.
Then when you take into account the fact that accommodation in Thailand is more than double the price of where I'm from--Vietnam--well, it feels like you are hemorrhaging money.