Guide to Thailand SIM Cards

24 Aug 2022
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There is a wide variety of delectable foods, fascinating tourist destinations, exciting pursuits, and engaging customs to discover. The splendour of Thailand is undeniable. But there may be an issue: you have to stay in touch with loved ones, but roaming services are excessively pricey. 

Wi-Fi hotspots may be accessible in some locations, but they may not always be the most practical choice. However, keeping in touch with the outside world is essential, and we'll make it easier for you throughout your entire journey by reviewing your options - which include three types of SIM cards.

 

A frequent misconception is that you have to use roaming to contact home or send messages when you go internationally. However, if you want to save money and avoid roaming fees, a prepaid SIM card is what you need. 

It's easy to acquire a Thai SIM card and phone number. Each primary mobile network provider in the country has some deal or discount designated for tourists. Only your passport, some cash in Thai baht, and an unlocked phone are required.

But there are multiple to pick from, so how do you choose?   To help you decide, we've narrowed down the three popular SIM card providers.

To start, there's AIS, the largest service provider in Thailand. Choose from a variety of flexible plans and excellent protection from this provider. DTAC is the country's second-largest corporation. Like AIS, it has good coverage, albeit slightly less. True Move H is the third best option. It's the most well-known SIM card supplier in Thailand but not often regarded as the best.

Secondly, all three operators offer Tourist or Traveler SIM cards for short-term use. Long-term visitors can choose pre- or postpaid packages. Finally, install the provider's app on your phone to conveniently top up, control data consumption, and receive promos.

 

Where to Acquire a SIM Card?

Carriers activate SIM cards under the name and passport number in your passport. SIM suppliers will take a photo of your passport and upload it to the NBTC database through a phone app to register the SIM card they are selling you. 

Buying a temporary plan at the airport is best if you're temporarily visiting Thailand. Suvarnabhumi Airport's baggage claim area has pop-up SIM card booths. Tourist-friendly deals include short-term packages of internet, minutes, plus messages.

Buy your plan from a carrier's official store outside the airport for longer visits, such as an extended vacation or moving here. 7-11 and Family Mart also have SIM cards for sale; 7-11 has DTAC and True Move, while Family Mart has AIS. But, again, there are cheaper plans that can better match your needs. 

Also, tourist SIMs expire after 30 days, while monthly SIMs don't. However, you'll need a work visa or work permit and your passport for a monthly plan in Thailand. You can also have your Thai wife, husband, or another family member sign up for you. They must show a Thai ID.

Important things to do before coming to Thailand: 

You won't be able to buy a SIM card without Thai baht, so visit your local bank and exchange a few thousand baht before you travel.

Remember to unlock your phone before you come to Thailand. You can have your carrier unlock it or do it yourself. If you forget or don't have time, go to an MBK phone shop, and they may be able to do it for you.

 

Prepaid vs Long-Term SIMs

Prepaid and postpaid plans differ for long-term Thai SIM cards from AIS, DTAC, or TrueMove. Prepaid packages are paid for before using credit. So adding 50 baht to your phone gives you 50 baht in credit. Of course, you'll need to top up if you run out of credit. However, most carriers allow emergency calls (meaning to police).

Monthly, you pay for postpaid packages. For example, if your plan is 400 baht and includes 400 minutes of credit, you still pay 400 baht monthly. If you overspend, you'll be charged extra. These prepaid SIM cards and packages let you control your monthly phone spending. No one-year contract either. 

An important thing to know:

Using the internet drains your minutes (data). So you have to buy a different kind of plan for unlimited internet plus phone use. For this, you should visit a designated carrier kiosk as they'll have all the plans and guidance. 

 

Topping Up Data

You can top up your SIM at any 7–11 or Family Mart in Thailand. Boonterm machines outside convenience stores also work, as do ATMs.  Or visit a kiosk in the mall, Big-C, or Tesco. You can also contact your SIM card provider via phone call or text, but they charge a small fee or top up online via your provider's website.

 

Lastly, the Breakdown Between Providers

 

AIS

AIS has fast internet and reliable signals. This communications giant also provides Play, a cable-like subscription for watching movies and tv on a phone or tablet. Next G, at 1gbps, is Southeast Asia's fastest network. AIS offers VIU Premium weekly. If you like Korean dramas, this package has them. To protect your online privacy, use AIS's Private Message app to send encrypted messages. AIS Serenade members get restaurant, lodging, and shopping discounts.

Before paying for AIS's higher-tier services, verify their coverage map by inputting your address. Unfortunately, some sections of Thailand can't yet support their fast internet and mobile network.

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DTAC

DTAC's Go No Limit packages stand out among Thailand's cell phone operators. Unlimited internet and free calls come with prepaid and postpaid plans. DTAC's loyalty program offers savings on meals and travel. In addition, DTAC offers prepaid Jai Dee. Prepaid users can borrow minutes and internet if they run out.

Type your address into DTAC's coverage map to check for service in your region.

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TrueMove

TrueMove sells bundles. These bundles include tv, internet, and cell phone service. Your needs determine packages. You can allocate data for better cell service if you prefer it over TV. If you like TV to cell service, use most of your data there. And online.

Although TrueMove does not provide a coverage map on their website, you can check coverage using OpenSignal.

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Klook 

We didn't mention this one before because it's not a physical sim card, but it's a convenient option for some. For example, Klook offers an e-sim card that will work with your iPhone in Thailand for up to 10 days. In addition, it's more practical and economical than a physical sim because there's no need to go hunting for a sim card store; you can set everything up from the comfort of your home (or hotel room).

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