Local SIM card
Theoretically, it’s pretty easy to buy a local SIM card in order to surf in the internet. But still, there could be some obstacles for you to overcome before you can use internet on your phone. Especially the language barrier and the overwhelming offerings from all those providers can be a little bit difficult in the beginning.
Availability of the SIMs
But let’s begin with the availability of the SIMs. More than likely they are offered to you at the airport, but you can also get them at any 7/11, shopping mall and many phone stores will have them available. In Thailand are a lot of different providers, but a focus on the “big three“ – AIS, DTAC and True will definitely be sufficient. Since all three are comparable in 4G data speeds and have similar coverage in any major city you don’t have to worry much about which one to pick.
But if you’ll be in a specific region you may want to check coverage there. DTAC, AIS and True offer many hotspots throughout the country, which can be assessed through your mobile number. This service is either included in your selected package or for surcharge, so in case you are interested in that, make sure you include this service in your package.
Chose one package
When we arrived in Bangkok for the first time, we went directly to the airport sales counters and chose one package from DTAC for 30-day stay: 429 baht/30 days, 3 GB internet, 30 min in all networks and this worked perfectly fine for us. The staff at the airport installed the SIM in our phone and when they were finished we could directly start to use the internet. The only thing we had to do was to choose our package, show our ID (since the implementation of the new law, all SIM cards have to be registered, which means everybody has to prepare their ID) and pay for it.
Tourist or travel SIM
We would recommend if you’re coming to Thailand for a short amount of time, your best bet is to get the tourist or travel SIM which you can easily find at the airport from providers. But if one of those packages is not enough, you can top up at any 7/11 or at the provider store. The service at the provider store are also fine but their english is often not as good as the english from the staff at the airport.
Size of SIM card
When you choose to buy a prepaid SIM card, make sure what size of SIM card you need, because normally micro SIMs can be popped from a normal SIM, but nano SIMSs are sometimes sold separately. There is also the possibility to top it up online at MobileTopUp.com which accepts VISA and MasterCards as well as debit cards but you have to consider, that this method includes surcharges. In our opinion, going to the next 7/11 is way more easier and cheaper, since 7/11 is really common in Thailand you can find it every few hundred meters in every bigger city.
For a longer time
In case you want to keep the SIM card for a longer time, you have to top it up at least every 45 days or pay more to add validity in order to keep it alive as well as make at least one call or outgoing SMS activity every 6 month. Otherwise, your SIM card will expire and you don’t have to worry about cancelling contracts. Up to now, we have only tried DTAC and some friends of us tried True. Both providers work completely fine, regarding AIS we have no direct experience, but some local friends of us said, that the coverage of AIS may lack depends where you are staying in Thailand. But if you are looking for broadband WiFi in your condo, AIS is a great opportunity.
If you plan on staying longer than one month in Thailand, there is a huge range of different kinds of packages regarding the SIMs in Thailand.