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Using Your Phone in Thailand
What you need to know about Thai sim cards, mobile internet, and wifi

Posted:
Nov. 5, 2018
Updated:
Nov. 10, 2018

This post makes the following assumptions: You are a digital nomad who works online while traveling internationally, you change countries frequently (every other month or more), and you need large amounts of data (more than 10 Gbs per month). If these assumptions do not apply to you, this advice may not, either.
May contain affiliate links.

There are many reasons why I love traveling in Thailand, and one of them is that it's so cheap and easy to get a sim card. Using mobile internet in Thailand is so cheap and easy there is no reason whatsoever to use your local plan, or pay for high-priced international sim cards or rentable mifi devices (with one exception I'll explain below).

The least you need to know

You can buy a tourist sim card at any 7-11 in Thailand, or even at the Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Phuket airports, if you need it ASAP. No matter which provider you use, any Thai tourist sim card will get you minutes, text, and data for 1-2 weeks at around $10-$20. It's that easy. All you need to do is bring your unlocked phone, your passport, and the local equivalent of about $20 to the airport or any 7-11, and you'll get your mobile service hooked up, immediately. That's all you need to know. But if you want more details, read on.

Thai man prepares to perform Chinese Opera
Image © Florian Blümm

Contents

In this article, I'll explain the following general topics:

And then I'll get a little more specific:

Feel free to pick and choose and skip around as suits your needs


Wifi in Thailand

Thailand is a very connected nation, with wifi in cafes, malls, and hotels all over the country. However, your life will be a lot easier with a local sim card for two reasons:

  • Often you will need to register, with a password texted to you
  • Sometimes the wifi is limited to service provider customers. For example, it is not uncommon to see that there is wifi at the mall but only if you're a AIS/TrueMove customer

Sometimes the public wifi will be included in your service plan, and sometimes you will given the option to buy a temporary pass for around $1 a day.


Tethering in Thailand

All three major service providers allow tethering. iPhone users, take note that the mobile tethering option might not appear until you perform a network reset or a carrier update. But of course, tethering will drain your phone batters and is not as good an option as getting a portable mifi device, if you're a heavy internet user.


Mifis in Thailand

Don't you dare pay $10 a day for one of the name-brand rentable mifis in Thailand. Normally this is where I'd recommend that heavy internet users buy a GlocalMe because I love it so, but in fact Thailand has another acceptable option. In Thailand, you can rent a Pocket Thai Wifi for only $5 a day. You can pick up a Pocket Thai Wifi at the airport of have it shipped to your hotel/guest house for free, and you only need to give them 2 days notice.

Beach huts in Thailand
Image © Florian Blümm

Roaming outside of Thailand

All three major providers offer special travel SIM cards for neighboring countries, but take note that these travel SIM cards will only work outside of Thailand. I repeat, they will not work in Thailand. Of the 3 major providers, TrueMove is the only provider that offers roaming packages on the same SIM card that you can use in Thailand--it's not cheap, though.

With TrueMove you can roam in Brunei, Cambodia, China (China Mobile), Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, S. Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Vietnam, for:

  • 1 day / 350 Thai Baht ($10 USD)
  • 3 days / 986 Thai Baht ($30 USD)
  • 5 days / 1400 Thai Baht ($42 USD)
  • 7 days / 1960 Thai Baht ($60 USD)

Otherwise, the following (mostly) Asian international travel sim cards are:

Collectively, these international sim cards will work in:

  • Albania
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia,
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Indonesia
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Laos
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxemburg
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Malta
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Turkey
  • The United Kingdom
  • The United States
  • Vietnam

The preceding list is a total of all countries covered among all 3 sim cards, no one SIM card covers all of them. Please be sure to confirm the card you're thinking of buying will work where you're going, before buying.

Traditional Dancers in Bangkok
Image © Florian Blümm

The Three Main Mobile Service Providers in Thailand

There are three major service providers in Thailand (AIS, DTAC, True Move), all of which provide sim cards which you can buy and top up at any 7-11, or even online. All three offer normal, micro and nano SIMs. All three allow tethering. All three offer wifi packages to be used at various hotspots around the country, in addition to regular mobile data. All three offer a multitude of plans and promotions you can access from your phone—more info at the international sim wiki.

If you do decide to scour the sim wiki to figure out which provider is best for you, do keep in mind that if you're deciding between a 100 baht plan or a 200 baht plan, that's a difference of about $3 USD you're splitting hairs over. At the end of the day, no matter which provider you go with, you'll probably be fine. Nonetheless in this article I've parsed out some of the major differences between the 3 mobile service providers in Thailand.

Of course, before buying a SIM card from any of these providers, make sure that your device is compatible with their network. Their respective frequencies are as follows:

FrequencyAISDtacTrueMove
850no3G/DC-HSPA3G/DC-HSPA and 4G/LTE
9003G/DC-HSPAno3G/DC-HSPA and 4G/LTE
18004G/LTE4G/LTE3G/DC-HSPA and 4G/LTE
2100 MHz3G/DC-HSPA and 4G/LTE3G/DC-HSPA and 4G/LTE3G/DC-HSPA and 4G/LTE

Thailand Prepaid Sim Cards for Tourists

If your travel plans include more countries other than Thailand, be sure to read the section of this article on Roaming. If you will only be in Thailand only, the cheapest tourist sim is TrueMove, followed by Dtac, with AIS in last place.


TrueMove Tourist SIM Cards for Tourists

TrueMove offers the following sim cards for tourists in Thailand:

  • 8 days / 299 Thai Baht ($9 USD) / 3 Gbs data
  • 15 days / 599 Thai Baht ($18 USD) / 8 Gbs data

With the following top ups:

  • 3 days / 150 Thai Baht ($3 USD) / 1 Gb data
  • 8 days / 250 Thai Baht ($8 USD) / 3 Gbs data
  • 15 days / 550 Thai Baht ($16 USD) / 8 Gbs data
  • 30 days / 550 Thai Baht ($16 USD) / 6 Gbs data
  • 30 days / 800 Thai Baht ($25 USD) / 10 Gbs data

Dtac Tourist SIM Cards for Tourists

Dtac offers the following sim cards for tourists in Thailand:

  • 7 days / 49 Thai Baht ($2 USD) / 500 MBs data
  • 8 days / 299 Thai Baht ($9 USD) / 3 GBs data
  • 15 days / 199 Thai Baht ($7 USD) / 500 MBs data
  • 15 days / 599 Thai Baht ($19 USD) / 6 GBs data

With the following top ups:

  • 3 days / 229 Thai Baht ($8 USD) / 1 Gb data
  • 10 days / 299 Thai Baht ($9 USD) / 2.5 Gbs data
  • 20 days / 699 Thai Baht ($21 USD) / 6 Gbs data
  • 30 days / 799 Thai Baht ($26 USD) / 9 Gbs data

AIS Tourist SIM Cards for Tourists

AIS offers the following sim cards for tourists in Thailand:

  • 8 days / 299 Thai Baht ($9 USD) / 1.500 GBs data
  • 15 days / 599 Thai Baht ($19 USD) / 6 GBs data

With the following top ups:

  • 1 day / 50 Thai Baht ($2 USD) / 160 MBs data
  • 10 days / 270 Thai Baht ($8 USD) / 1.5 Gbs data
  • 15 days / 690 Thai Baht ($20 USD) / 3 Gbs data
Street Art in Bangkok
Image © Florian Blümm

And that's it! Seriously, I think I've told you way more than you need to know about getting a sim card in Thailand, but if you have any more questions, please don't be afraid to ask!

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