About to explore Thailand soon? I am sure you will enjoy your time there. Thailand has beautiful beaches, many temples, and plenty of tourist activities. For those who want to get off the beaten track, there will be plenty of things to see and enjoy (especially food-wise). Flights to Thailand may be pricy depending on where you are flying from, but Thailand is known for its low prices, so that can cancel out the expensive plane ticket.
On the other hand, roaming with your provider may not be inexpensive if you are not aware of the roaming conditions and prices. This is why many travelers explore the local SIM card options before taking off to Thailand to eliminate roaming costs. Additionally, telecom costs are so low in Thailand that getting a Thai SIM card will be worth it. Let's explore the best SIM Card options for when traveling in Thailand.
Telecom Providers in Thailand
Thailand has a population of around 70 million people, making it a lucrative market for telecom providers to operate there. That is why it does not surprise me that Thai citizens can choose from around 15 telecom providers: 5 of them are “standard” carriers, while the others are Mobile Virtual Network Operators (also known as MVNOs).
The three largest Thai carriers, in terms of subscribers, are AIS, TrueMove H, and Dtac, respectively. Together, they have a market share of around 99%, which is insane. AIS alone has a market share of close to 50%. Although all these numbers are impressive, we are more interested in knowing which provider will be the best for you when traveling in Thailand.
If you want to buy a SIM card in Thailand, I would recommend getting the 1-2-Call SIM Card from AIS for most travelers. If you are staying in big cities and tourist areas, Dtac and TrueMove H will serve you well too.
I would not recommend going with TOT because they have such a small market share and not that many subscribers (about 1 million). Their coverage may not be that great. MY is bigger than TOT with nearly 2 million subscribers). For part of its 4G network, they roam on TrueMove H, but for its 4.5G network, they have their own network, but it may not provide great coverage. Stick to the big three – they are large for a reason.
In terms of the MVNOs, most seem to be roaming on the TOT network, so you may not want to consider them either.
Also, do not forget your passport when you want to buy a SIM card. The salesperson will also take a picture of you. All of this is necessary to get your SIM card registered and activated.
For now, let's check out the offerings of AIS, TrueMove H, and Dtac.
Most travelers will be fine with a SIM card from AIS. In particular, the 1-2-Call SIM card. This SIM card costs 50 baht (around $1.60) and offers many bundles for calling and data. For example, for 427 baht ($14), you will get 3 GB of data to be used on the 4G network of AIS. Additionally, you can connect to the numerous AIS SUPER WIFI networks around the country.
You can purchase the 1-2-Call SIM card at most international airports and at any AIS. I would, however, not recommend getting your SIM card at the airport, as you will be paying a tourist premium. You will get much better deals when you get one at an AIS store in town.
If you need to top up your plan, you can go to any store that has an AIS or 1-2-Call logo sign on it. There, you can buy a top-up voucher or scratch card to top up your plan.
If you do not feel like staying in line at the airport or do not feel like waiting to be connected when arriving in Thailand, you can also buy AIS Smart Topic SIM cards via SimOptions. This way, you will have your SIM card before you head to Thailand and can be online as soon as you land.
TrueMove H has extensive network coverage in Thailand. However, you may be on their 3G/HSPA+ network in remote areas (if you are unlucky, 2G/EDGE speeds). Their 4G Sim Card+ costs 49 baht ($1.60) and can be purchased at international airports, TrueMove H stores, and other stores like 7-11 and Tesco.
Just like with AIS, I would not recommend buying your TrueMove H SIM card at the airport because you will be paying a premium. Go to a TrueMove H store or 7-11 and buy your card there. Below is the plan breakdown of TrueMove H:
- The Tourist Inter SIM plan for 3.0 GB costs 299 Baht or $9.20 and offers unlimited hotspot Wi-Fi as well, all for 8 days.
- The 4 GB of data plan costs 399 Baht, or $12.75. The usage cap is 128 kbps at no additional charge. This plan lasts one month.
- Also, the monthly plans with TrueMove H auto-renew, so you will need to request a cancellation code if you wish to cancel your service once you leave the country.
- 7-11 and Tesco own TrueMove H so that you can pick up these SIM cards at those stores. You can also go to a TrueMove H store and get your SIM card there.
Finally, we have Dtac, which is the largest wireless bandwidth service provider in Thailand. Once again, if you are staying in populated areas, your connection and speeds will be fine with Dtac.
Like the other providers, you can buy a Dtac tourist SIM card at several airports. Dtac has booths there. However, at Suvarnabhumi (Bangkok) airport, they have a self-service machine where you can get your SIM card in 1 minute. I have not used this machine, so I cannot tell if its prices are higher than at the booth or in town, but I assume you will be paying a premium too.
You can get the SIM card for 49 Baht (seeing a trend here?), which will give you access to the 4G network. With this SIM card, you can choose from many of their bundles. The Happy Tourist SIM card costs 599 Baht ($18.75) and gives you unlimited data f0r 15 days.
You can also order these SIM cards online on Amazon, sold by Dtac themselves. This way, you can be online as soon as you land in Thailand.
Other Connectivity Options When Traveling in Thailand
The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Thailand
Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other Asian Countries
Visiting other countries in Asia? Check out my SIM card buying guides for individual Asian countries:
Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.
Next Steps to Enhance Your Travel Experiences
Looking for the next steps to enhance your phone travel experiences? Here is what to do:
Support Phone Travel Wiz
It takes a lot of time to analyze, translate, and review the SIM card options worldwide (especially to test them out).
Check Out My Resource Page
Looking for the best companies and gadgets to enhance your travel experience? Check out my travel resources page for the best companies to use when you travel!
Save money with international SIM cards, on plane tickets, bus rides, cruises, and accommodation.
Besides that, I also list services and items I use to make my life easier – and I believe they will help you too!
Start Your Own Online Business – Make Money While Traveling
Do you want to learn how I started an online business that allows me to generate income while traveling?
In my starting an online business guide, I tell you which tools, services, and products I have for this site and my YouTube channel.
If I can start a business about something I am passionate about (phone travel), then you can do it too!
Learn About Your Phone Travel Options
Each of these options has its pros and cons. Learn more about them, and find the best option for you.
Phone Travel Tips, Tricks & Hacks
I have written many articles with tips and hacks to save money on mobile costs while abroad. You surely want to check them out!
Sign Up for the Phone Travel Wiz Newsletter
Sign up for my newsletter: Get an excel sheet of the best SIM cards of over 230+ destinations around the world! Moreover, I send you many tips and tricks on how to save money while traveling every now and then.
Let's Be Social
Did you know that I have a YouTube channel covering everything you need to know about traveling with your phone? A lot of useful videos are uploaded multiple times a week, and you do not want to miss out on them!
Learn More About Who Adu Actually Is
Who is the guy behind Phone Travel Wiz? Well, find out on the Ernest Adu about page!