Tourist SIM cards and using your mobile phone in Thailand GUIDE
Travel with your mobile phone in Thailand GUIDE
Thailand is one of the most popular destinations in the world for foreign tourists to visit. When you are visiting Thailand, you will probably want to use your mobile phone. Should you pay for an international plan before you leave home, purchase a pre-paid tourist SIM card upon arrival in Thailand, or buy a local Thailand SIM card?
What are the different mobile networks in Thailand? Which mobile network should I use? What phone plan should I buy in Thailand? Can I use my phone in Thailand? Where can I buy a SIM card in Thailand? How do I get the best deal on text, talk, and mobile data in Thailand?
Here is everything you need to know about traveling with your mobile phone in Thailand.
How to unlock your phone to use in Thailand
Before leaving your home country, simply call your mobile provider (such as Sprint or Verizon) and ask them to unlock your phone, as you will be traveling abroad.
If you can't unlock your phone before leaving for Thailand, you can bring it to any mobile phone shop.
Unlocking your phone is completely legal. It simply means that your mobile carrier allows you to use a tourist SIM card, or other SIM card, while traveling abroad.
Where to get your phone unlocked in Thailand
The best place to get your phone unlocked for just a few hundred baht is at the 4th floor market at MBK Center in Bangkok, a huge shopping mall dedicated to mobile phones and electronics.
MBK Center - BTS Skytrain station National Stadium
MBK Center via Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/M6ApsiWpvSr
Tourist SIM card
A tourist SIM card is much cheaper than using an international roaming plan from your provider back home. For example, AT&T offers an international roaming plan for $10 per day.
Instead, you can purchase a tourist SIM card from Bangkok International Airport for the same price that will give you unlimited internet data, as well as a number of international calling minutes, for eight days.
Where to buy a SIM card in Thailand
Purchase a tourist SIM card upon arrival at Survarnabhumi International Airport (BKK) in Bangkok, Thailand
You can purchase a tourist SIM card from any of the major phone service providers (see below) immediately after exiting the customs area at the international airport in Bangkok
Tourist SIM cards can also be purchased from Family Mart or 7-11 convenience stores
How to buy a SIM card in Thailand
You must show your passport in order to buy a SIM card in Thailand
Which SIM card should I use in Thailand?
There are several options for tourist SIM cards that you can use in Thailand, all of which can be purchased at Bangkok's International Airport. Each provider offers more or less identical services for identical prices.
Comparison of mobile carriers and prices in Thailand
True Move, AIS, and dtac are the three major mobile phone carriers in Thailand. All three services offer tourist SIM cards for travelers to Thailand. The cost of the tourist SIM cards in Thailand are all the same from provider to provider.
True Move H Tourist Sim options and price
The True Move H Tourist SIM has three options. 49 baht (about $1.50), 200 baht (about $10), and 500 baht (about $20). The first SIM card has the cheapest price, and is good for one day, but can be topped up at a 7-11 convenience store to renew the plan for further days.
The best deal is the 299 baht plan, which offers unlimited True Move wifi in public areas, unlimited mobile internet data, 100 baht of calling credits. This plan is good for eight days.
dtac Happy Tourist SIM options and price
The dtac Happy Tourist SIM is the second option for tourists and travelers in Thailand. Although the Happy Tourist Sim has more package options than the other carriers, the mobile service and price is identical.
AIS Traveller SIM options and price
The AIS Travller SIM is a third option for tourists. The offering is essentially identical to the other carriers, both in service and in price.
Again, while they offer a limited amount of mobile internet data at full 4G speeds, internet data is actually unlimited. The mobile internet data is throttled down to 3G speeds once your mobile data has run out.
SUMMARY: Which SIM card to use in Thailand?
The three tourist SIM card options (True Move H, dtac, and AIS) are more or less identical. All three tourist SIM card options in Thailand offer free calling to other tourist SIM card users on the same network (an excellent deal if you are traveling with friends) and free usage of messaging and social apps such as Facebook, Instagram, LINE or What'sApp.
It's easy to top up the SIM card after its period has run out. Simply visit a 7-11 convenience store, or a True, AIS, or dtac phone store, and ask to "top up". They will add money (usually 100 baht) to your SIM card, allowing you to renew your plan for another day, week, or month.
So which SIM card is best? They are all almost identical. I have used all three networks, and 4G coverage for all three networks in Thailand is widespread. There are very few "dead zones" in Thailand, mostly out in the far rural areas where tourists are unlikely to visit. Bangkok has excellent 4G coverage, and many public places offer True Move, AIS, or dtac wifi, which you can access when using each carrier's SIM card.
The 4G internet service in Thailand is fast and comprehensive. The mobile data on SIM cards in Thailand are essentially unlimited. After reaching your limit on the 4G SIM card, the data will be throttled to what is basically 3G speeds.