Travel Guide: Where to buy a SIM card for travel in Thailand 2022
You’ve finally touched down in Thailand after the hiccup caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. You’re excited for the change to travel again or possibly call Thailand your new home. You reach for your phone to call a cab, but wait, you don’t want to turn on roaming and you can’t connect to WiFi. What to do?
Buying a Thai SIM card with a Thai phone number is simple. All of the country’s major mobile network service providers have special offers specifically for travellers. All you’ll need is an unlocked phone, a wad of baht and your passport. To simplify your decision making process, we’ve created a guide to phone providers in Thailand.
Who are the providers?
There are three main providers in Thailand: AIS, DTAC and True Move. All three companies will have many packages to choose from, including short term SIM cards for travellers called Tourist or Traveller SIM cards. There will be packages for those who will be here long term, too, either between pre or post paid. Whichever provider you choose, we recommend you to install their app on your phone so you can easily top up, manage your data usage and receive special promotions.
Disclaimer: Price and plans are subject to change. We recommend readers go directly to the provider’s website for up to date deals and information.
If you’re going to be staying here long term, AIS has many options to choose from. For users who want to take advantage of 5G, the plans start at 699 baht per month. That includes a data limit of 50GB at a speed of 1 Gbps. It also includes 50 minutes of talk time, and free calls between AIS users. They also have another plan, costing 899 baht per month, which includes 80GB of internet access and 70 minutes of talk time.
Of course, there are more options to choose from for high-paying users, with prices starting at 1,199 baht per month. The most expensive option will cost you 1,999 baht per month. The main difference is the limit in minutes, but you’ll also get unlimited 5G internet.
For short term sim cards for travellers, AIS has 4 packages: pay as you go for 49 baht, an 8 day plan for 299 baht, a 15 day plan for 599 baht, and a 30 days plan for 1,290 baht. What you get is the same across the board. International calls will cost 1 baht per minute.
Postpaid packages at True Move start at 299 baht per month, with a 100 minutes of talk time and 1.5GB of data, but sadly it’s on the slower end, as in megabytes, not gigabytes, per second. 349 baht per month gives you more data at 20GB, and it’s also much faster, but talk time is stuck at 100 minutes. 399 baht per month jumps to 30GB of internet while the speed is the same as the previous package, while the talk time more than triples to 350 minutes.
There are three packages for short term visitors. The starter SIM costs 49 baht and you’ll have to add minutes and data later. The 299 baht package will last you 8 days with 15GB of data. Travelling in Thailand for two weeks? The 599 baht plan will last for 15 days with 30GB of data.
Monthly post paid deals starts at 349 baht, and include 20GB of data and 100 minutes. There are two 449 baht package options, with the difference being a choice of 30GB or 40GB and 200 or 300 minutes. For 699 baht, you’ll get 50GB of data and 80 minutes ,while 899 baht will get you an extra 20GB data and 20 minutes of talk time.
Stepping up into the pricey category, plans start from 1,099 baht per month for unlimited data usage. That’s followed by 1,499 baht, 1,999 baht and 2,199 baht per month plans. Each plan gives users unlimited data, with the only difference being limitations on minutes. The most expensive option has both unlimited internet and minutes.
A short term, or tourist SIM, starts at 149 baht for 4 days, with unlimited data at a max speed of 5Gbps. That’s followed plans costing 299 baht for 8 days, and 599 baht for 15 days. There is also a pay as you go option, costing just 49 baht per SIM card.
Where should you get the SIM card?
In most cases, getting a SIM card will require your passport, as most carriers activate the SIM card under your name as written on your passport and your passport number.
If you’re just in Thailand for a short vacation, buying a temporary plan at the airport is probably the best choice. Currently, you can find pop-up SIM card booths at the Suvarnabhumi Airport inside of the baggage claim area. There’ll you can get tourist-oriented deals that include internet, minutes and texts for short periods.
These booths used to be located outside in the arrivals hall after exiting baggage claim. But due to the hall being used to accommodate arrivals for the Test & Go programme, all the booths that used to be located on the ground floor near the entryway have since been boarded up and only a select businesses have relocated to inside the baggage claim area.
The potential problem with this is you’ll be unable to purchase a SIM card if you don’t already have some Thai baht on you or are unable to find a currency exchange both inside the baggage claim as well. So make sure to visit your local bank all exchange you local currency for at least a few thousand baht before you travel here.
For longer stays, whether it’s an extended vacation or you’re planning to live here, it’s preferable to buy your plan straight from a carrier’s official store. There you’ll find a range of plans that will meet your requirements at a better cost. Visit their websites here: AIS, DTAC and True Move.
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