Almost every tourist that travels to Thailand wants to buy a Thai SIM card, but which one? If you did not gather some information before your trip you are relying on the sales guys at the airport. Can you trust them? Nope! So here is your guide to what is the best Thai SIM card for travellers in 2019.
Why buy a Thailand tourist SIM?
Traveling in Thailand is fairly easy nowadays with so many travel agencies, long haul busses and cheap domestic flights in Thailand. A place to sleep can easily be found, good food is always around the corner and transportation can be booked in every street. Then why do you need a Thai SIM card?
First of all to simply be online. I am an internet addicted and I should be, as a professional travel blogger I constantly want to be online. For me it is not just a way of keeping in touch with my family and friends it is work as well. So a travel sim is vital! Want to know my tips & tricks about how to get temporary internet access while traveling? Check the link for great tips about having internet abroad.
Buying a sim card in Thailand is fairly easy, finding the best data package available is a challenge. At least it is way easier then buying a sim card in Vietnam where they even try to sell you competitors packages in official stores. A nightmare! LOL
But even if you are not an internet addict it is handy to have a Thai SIM card. Think about emergency situations, meeting up with fellow travellers or using Google Maps to find directions. It makes travelling so much easier and it is really affordable!
For example I always buy 4.5 GB data package 4G speed for $12 valid for 1 month. Calling rate is 1THB per minute, which is $0,03, which provider? Read down below and find out what I think is the best sim card for travelling in Thailand.
How to get around Thailand
The best way to get around Thailand? Buy your tickets online and let 12Go Asia search the best route for you. They figure out schedules for boats, busses, trains and even flights and give you all the option including trip duration, prices and comfort. And you can straight away book online and save the hassle of buying paper tickets on the streets. To me it was a game changer, so easy, reliable and convenient.
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What is the best Thailand prepaid SIM card for tourist in 2018?
Are you planning to go to remote islands in Thailand or are you going visit the islands on The Banana Pancake Trail? Do you want a 4G internet connection? Different types of travellers and different types of SIM cards, find out which one suites you most.
Mobile internet providers Thailand
There are 3 major suppliers in Thailand: True, DTAC and AIS. All of them have pros and cons, but their signal and 3G coverage is nowadays everywhere the same. So if you are going to the major touristy spots and you are not interested in 4G internet speed then simply choose the cheapest option of one of these 3 mobile companies. You will see signs everywhere saying: 'Thailand SIM card for tourist'.
For travelling up north to places like Chiang Mai it only depends if you want to be connected to 4G or not. All providers have reliable coverage, though only True Move and AIS have a big 4G network in the remote areas, DTAC does not! So if you are going to travel on a motorbike in Thailand True Move or AIS might be a good option for you.
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If you are you planning to go on a Thailand Island hopping adventure and still want to be connected to the world then do not choose AIS I would have told you back in 2016. Now in 2018 things have changed and AIS has a really good 4G coverage network nowadays. Their coverage on remote islands was shit, but got incredibly better. If you are looking for a Thailand SIM card for island hopping in the South of Thailand, based on coverage all three networks will give you a 4G signal on almost every popular tourist destination. I also wrote a guide to the best sim card in Greece as with all those islands there it is pretty similar to Thailand. Every island has different network coverage.
Mobile Internet Speed Thailand
For the fastest internet you should get a SIM card of AIS, as their speed is by far the best, see the chart down below. Staying in places like Phuket, Samui, Chiang Mai and Bangkok, AIS is definitely the best Thailand prepaid sim card for tourist when it comes down to Internet speed.
4G Coverage Maps mobile providers Thailand in 2018
If you are just like me addicted to the internet and 3G is not good enough anymore than check out the following 4G coverage maps of all three mobile internet providers in Thailand. Who provides the best 4G coverage in Thailand in 2018? See the maps down below.
4G coverage of AIS
4G coverage of True Move
4G coverage of DTAC
All the three maps above are updated in March 2018 and show you the actual coverage for 2018!
As you can see based on the 4G coverage maps AIS is still your best bid as it covers most of Thailand, with True Move being a good follow up. DTAC still has to do some catching up, but that only counts for some remote areas.
Prices for prepaid sim card packages in Thailand in 2018
As you can imagine there are 100 different data packages available, so I picked out the ones for you that I think are the best for tourists.
DTAC Happy Tourist 599 THB (excl. VAT) = Unlimited internet for 15 days, 6GB at MAX speed, 100 THB call credit.
If you buy a DTAC sim card and top up yourself you can use the following packages:
- 30 days - 4.5GB - 430 THB
- 30 days - 9.0GB - 750 THB
AIS Traveller SIM 599 THB (excl VAT) = Unlimited internet for 15 days, 6GB at MAX speed, 100 THB call credit. Until the end of 2018 you get 300 THB Uber credit. LOL! This is typical Thailand, but handy to have, right? :)
The package for AIS is pretty much the same as the one of DTAC
A True Move prepaid sim card can be a cool option for those who only use apps. With a True Move SIM card you can use 14 social apps for 30 days FOR FREE! Apps included are: Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Line, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Skype, Pinterest. Additional internet cost 2 THB per MB and 0,55 THB per calling minute.
Finding the best prepaid Thailand sim card based on the available packages is like walking throught the jungle without a machete. It basically is undoable to find the right package and therefore I kind of like the DTAC package where you simple buy a SIM card and a data package! :)
Thailand SIM card for tourist
Heading to a specific area then go to opensignal.com and zoom in on your destination to find the best provider. Especially for long term travellers this tool is perfect to see what is the best thai sim card for nomads. The perfect example is myself when I was living in Koh Tao in 2016. I know I was going to stay in Koh Tao for at least 2 months, so I zoomed in. At that time the fastest internet was provided by AIS, True Move had the biggest 4G network, but in the end I chose DTAC. Why? DTAC was the only mobile internet provider offering a 4G signal in Koh Tao and to me the best thailand prepaid sim card was therefore DTAC.
What to bring if you buy a sim card in Thailand in 2018?
Before you could easily buy a sim card in Thailand without any identification, but nowadays they changed a couple rules. If you purchase a sim card in Thailand a passport is needed. Still street vendors sell prepaid data packages without any identification needed, but the official resellers will need your passport. So always bring your passport when you are going to buy a sim card in Thailand.
I did my PADI divemaster training on Koh Tao and lived there for several months. Looking for cool things to do in Koh Tao? Check out my blog: Things to do in Koh Tao Besides Diving. Heard bad stories about Koh Tao in the news? We all did! Read here about my experiences as the famous Koh Tao murders found place on my birthday while I was on the island.
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Where to buy your Thailand prepaid sim card in 2018
Planning to stay for longer than a week in Thailand then head to a phone shop rather than the 7Eleven. Prices drop for monthly plans, but they don’t sell them at the 7Eleven.
Buying a sim card at the aiport
In Thailand the golden rule applies as well: do not buy a bangkok airport SIM card if you want to save a couple bucks. No matter which country you are travelling to, never buy a SIM card on the airport as they are always rip offs compared to what they offer in the city. As soon as you walk out of the airport in Bangkok all three companies will welcome you with tourist sim card packages, but they are pricey compared to what you can buy in the city. The same applies for the Don Muang Airport in Bangkok and the one in Phuket. If you have little time and do not care about a couple dollar more or less than get yourself a sim card at the airport.
Free sim card Thailand
They often lure you with free SIM, but remember nothing is for free especially in touristy countries in South East Asia!
In Thailand you can buy a sim card at mostly every 7Eleven, but obviously the prepaid packages you buy here focus on short term tourists. Simple data packages that mostly will do if you are in Thailand for just a week. The hard thing is to find someone who can really help you activate your prepaid data package in the 7Eleven as most Thai people working here do not speak sufficient English to help you out.
Official mobile internet provider shop
Wherever you go you will stumble upon a shop from DTAC, True Move or AIS. Just Google Map where to find the nearest shop. Data plans will be explained very well, English is spoken, prices are the cheapest and they will activate it for you on the spot. Every shopping mall in Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Krabi and Koh Samui has mobile internet shops.
Portable WiFi device for travelers
Some countries like the USA sell 'locked' iPhones and therefore buying an international SIM card is not an option. Or may be you are not convinced exchanging your SIM card for a Thai SIM card. Take a look at Teppy a portable WiFi device to connect for smartphones, laptops and tablets. And the best thing is that it gives you unlimited data plus you can connect up to 5 devices at the same time!
It is a very convenient and reliable internet source while traveling and sometimes easier than going all the way and buying a new SIM card and getting a new phone number.
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This article is based on my own experiences between January and October 2016 and I updated it in March 2018 to give you the most actual information possible. Keep in mind that Thai mobile providers are constantly upgrading their coverage, changing their rates and providing better and faster internet. Let me know if you find anything changes and I am happy to add it to my article.
If you would like to save the hassle buying a Sim card in Thailand then you might want to order it up front. Simeasy.com will send you a Thai sim card home so once you land you can straight away connect to the internet and find your Uber driver! Click here to purchase your sim card for Thailand in advance through SIMEASY.
I have already collected more than 40 stamps of this lovely country in my passport. How I afford to travel for years? Click on the link and read my story and tips how to stay on the road as long as me! Let me help you planning your next Thailand itinerary and take a look at my blogs about the land of the smile on my Thailand Page. Curious why I have been to Thailand 17 times? Read more about me and my 5 year around the world trip on my About page. I also wrote an article for a prepaid sim card in Turkey and the best prepaid sim card for Bali.
This is a handy guide with everything you need to know about traveling in Thailand from visas to vaccinations, island hopping to jungle trekking, elephant sanctuaries to affordable luxury hotels, the best hostels, electricity plugs, street food and many more things.