It’s Good to Talk: Guide to Getting a SIM Card in Thailand
Thailand is cheap for many things. Street food, transport, clothes, you name it and you can grab a bargain. But you know what isn’t cheap, even in the Land of Smiles? Data roaming charges! Give yourself 5 minutes and you’ll be an expert on how to get a SIM card in Thailand!
It’s every backpacker’s dream. Lazing on a secluded, hidden Thai beach with a cold Leo beer, watching the sun set over the horizon. Of course you get your phone out to take some pics to capture the moment. Now you need to send them to your mom to prove that you’re still alive, but there’s a problem! Roaming data connections costs a ton in Thailand just like they do all over the world, so sending photos to the family Whatsapp will cost you an arm and a leg. Moment ruined!
Enter the world of the local SIM card. Instead of racking up huge costs on your normal SIM card, one easy swap to a Thai SIM could cost you a whole world of costs and hassle. Here’s how to grab one.
Thai Phone Carriers
Back in the day, you’d have to take time to do some intensive research into network coverage patterns. Some companies were best for the islands and some best for the mountains, but these days it’s much easier and 4G coverage has spread rapidly across the country.
This is usually the popular choice with travelers. Great coverage in the north around Chiang Mai and extended coverage across the southern islands is a big draw, and AIS Smart Hotspots are available in most malls and coworking spaces in Bangkok and Chiang Mai which is a really great touch.
AIS offers a Traveller SIM package for 599 THB for unlimited internet for 15 days, 100 THB call credit and 300 THB Uber credit. Perfect for getting back to the hostel after your quick drink turned into an all-night party!
dTAC are a decent company with reasonable coverage, although 4G is lacking in the north. Their SIM offering is very similar to AIS with their Happy Tourist package also giving unlimited internet for 15 days and 100 call credit. If you run out of data then you can text a code for instant top-up, and the staff in the ubiquitous 7-11s will always help you if you get stuck.
True Move is the smallest of Thailand’s major phone operators but they’re real winners at social media. If all you want to do is browse apps like Facebook and Instagram then a True Move SIM is for you! They offer 30 days free use of 14 social media sites, and additional data is only charged at 2 THB per MB. Network coverage is reasonable and top-up is available online or in local retailers.
Where to Buy a SIM Card in Thailand
As soon as you get off the plane you’ll see stalls selling SIM cards for tourists. If convenience and speed are important to you then go ahead and buy a card here- all the major operators will be happy to set you up with credit and data on the spot. If getting a better deal is the most important thing to you however, wait to buy a card until you’re in town. The prices are better and the phone shops themselves have a wider range of packages.
Top Up Your Mobile Data
Getting some more credit in Thailand is easy if you know how. The top-up instructions are usually included on the outside of the packet that your SIM comes in so take a picture for ease of reference later. You can usually send a text code for credit, go online to the website or even go into any 7-11. Just hand your baht over to the till operator, punch in your phone number into the credit card machine keypad and you’re good to go.