SIM cards and top-ups are available widely in Thailand from the major carriers (the big three: AIS, dtac and True Move H) as well as a number of smaller 'boutique' provides that lease government bandwidth and equipment or MVNO (such as iMobile or Tune). Purchase of a new SIM card/number is easy, and can be done at operators' shops and any 7-11 as well as at many airport kiosks. Thailand is beginning to require SIM card registration and the production of ID (such as passport for non-Thais) may be required.
Arriving at BKK airport in Bangkok, you have the best choice. The 3 major players have their flagship stores in the arrivals hall almost side by side. So you can check prices and compare promotions. All carriers give out monthly promotions which are not mentioned in this article. The situation at DMG, Bangkok's budget airport and regional airports is different as no major network provider is on location, but several small shops sell the tourist SIMs. In Chiang Mai and Phuket, you may find True Move SIMs given out for free.
Concerns for all providers Edit
All of the big three operators do stock all SIM card sizes from normal, micro SIM to nano SIM. Normally the micro SIM card can be popped out from the normal SIM card but the nanoSIMs are often sold separately. It is advised that you request to the staff that you want which SIM card size before you buy.
All of the operators also allow tethering. All of them treat all data going through their network equally therefore your plan would include tethering by default to be used and shared to your other devices. If you are using an iPhone, you may need to perform a network reset or a carrier update for the mobile tethering option to appear.
Normally Thai SIM cards expire 45 days after the last top up unless you are able to add extra validity and "Tourist Cards" sometimes even sooner. So It's very hard to keep them alive outside the country, but start-up prices for new starter packs are minimal. For voice calling overseas heavily reduced rates as low as VoIP providers are offered by the three majors using special IDD codes. Let them give you the cheapest option for your destination which has to be dialled before the country code.
Adding Credit to your phone Edit
Adding credit or airtime is quite easy as long as you stay in the country. Airtime gives both validity and ability to make calls or subscribe to data packages. A few physical places where you can topup: 7-Eleven stores, Family Mart and other kiosks, at BigC, Tesco and the outlets of the network providers.
Adding credit online is also quite easy and there are a few options. MobileTopup.com charges a 4% service fee and accepts Visa and MasterCard as well as local debit cards and works on any device. If you have Bitcoin you can topup at http://bitcoins.com.th incurring conversion fees, and if you use Webmoney you can do it thru wm-thailand.com
From outside of the country mobile you're best bet is to use the online recourses and remember you have to top up a Thai SIM card every 45 days at least to keep it alive as well as one call or sms activity every 6 months. MobileTopup.com has a reoccurring billing option that is quite useful for this purpose.
Fair Use Policy (FUP) Edit
Fair use is the number of gigabytes you usually see advertised on a plan. Most monthly data plans say they are "unlimited", however they use FUP to say they will give X GB at their fastest speed and once you have used X GB, you will be reduced to 384 kbps, 128 kbps or even 64 kbps. For example: a 3 GB FUP plan for 499 Baht per month means you get 3 GB of data at their highest speed, and then after you use 3 GB your speed will drop. Slow speeds are OK for email and chat, but not good enough for browsing websites.
Over the past years there have been massive changes to all the major operators' networks. Before you purchase any SIM card, please make sure that the network you are choosing is compatible with your smartphones or devices (see below). The big three networks have separate networks operating on more than one set of frequencies. This is often made through domestic roaming on the same network. Operators' new SIM cards usually would roam back to their older networks once you are out of their coverage area (i.e. rural) and you may not not get full speed whilst on roaming. But you should enable (domestic) roaming on your device anyway..
|Operator||New networks||Old networks|
4G/LTE has started with dtac and TrueMove on 2100 MHz only in 2013/14 mainly in the Bangkok metropolitan area and is now being extended to further areas. True has a wider 4G/LTE coverage than dtac while AIS has not started with 4G yet.
IDD Calling Rates
Thailand is one of the few countries where some international calls are charged lower than domestic or VoIP calls. For this you have to use certain IDD prefixes. So the correct order to dial abroad is:
<IDD prefix> <country code> <area code> <local number>
The prefixes differ between operators and are added at the end of each section. The major providers give out special discounted prefixes on which major landlines in Europe, America and Australia can be called for as low as 1 THB per min.
Under a new law all SIM cards have officially to be registered by July 31st 2015 to avoid being switched off by the provider. However, this deadline is not met by about 50% of the user base. But be prepared to show an ID and do the registration at the point of purchase from now on.
AIS EditAIS is known to have the largest network in the nation with close to 50% penetration. It may have the best coverage but often suffers from low speed and congestion. AIS is part of the larger SingTel telco that also owns Optus in Australia and SingTel in Singapore. AIS is the only major provider not to offer 4G/LTE yet. This is prepared for 2016 on the 1800 MHz frequency.
Where to buyEdit
You can get their SIM cards from almost everywhere but if you prefer you can obtain it directly from their stores which are often called Telewiz. Top-ups can be done at any convenience stores such as 7-Eleven or Family Mart or online.
1-2-Call SIM cards are their standard pre-paid voice and data cards. Where possible, make sure that you want a 3G Freedom SIM because some 1-2-Call SIM cards are still for their older 2G networks only. 3G Freedom SIMs are sold for 50 THB in "Freedom Smartphone Packs". This includes for 50 THB in a week: 100 MB data and 15 domestic minutes. For more data, these packages are offered to add:
|9 Baht||10 MB||*777*70#||24 hours||1.50 THB /MB|
|15 Baht||20 MB||*777*71#||24 hours||1.50 THB /MB|
|49 Baht||160 MB||*777*1#||24 hours||throttled to 64 kbps|
|59 Baht||70 MB||*777*73#||7 days||1.50 THB/ MB|
|249 Baht||1 GB||*777*74#||7 days||throttled to 128 kbps|
|239 Baht||300 MB||*777*75#||30 days||1.50 THB /MB|
|799 Baht||4 GB||*777*76#||30 days||throttled to 256 kbps|
Freedom 3G NetsimEdit
Their prepay SIM cards for data are called Freedom 3G NETSIM. They cost 50 Baht and come in different starter packs. But the only difference between each of them is what you get from the first 50 Baht that comes with the SIM. Mostly, you are given 50 MB for activation. They are for tablets and modems, but have voice and text too and most of the packs include free unlimited AIS and 3BB WIFI with more than 60,000 sports in the country.
Below are the available packages which you will have to purchase once you have already topped up enough money into your account:
|89 Baht||300 MB||*777*311#||max. 256 mbit/s||AIS|
|99 Baht||90 MB||*777*330#||1.50 THB /MB||n/a|
|199 Baht||300 MB||*777*331#||1.50 THB /MB||n/a|
|249 Baht||500 MB||*777*335#||max. 256 mbit/s||AIS|
|399 Baht||1.5 GB||*777*399#||max. 256 mbit/s||AIS, 3BB|
|599 Baht||3 GB||*777*332#||max. 256 mbit/s||AIS, 3BB|
|799 Baht||4 GB||*777*334#||max. 256 mbit/s||AIS, 3BB|
|1699 Baht||10 GB||*777*1699#||max. 256 mbit/s||AIS|
In case you have not subscribed to any of these packages data are 1.50 Baht per MB.
For the plans that include Wi-Fi, you must first obtain your username and password by dial 388#88# and then you can connect any of your devices (can be your laptop or a tablet) to any AIS WiFi or 3BB WiFi nationwide. The WiFi usage is unlimited.
Alternatively, AIS offers to visitors their Traveller SIM in two starter packs:
- for 199 THB you get 7-days unlimited internet (FUP @ 500 MB), 7 days unlimited calls between Travellers SIM users, 15 THB credit with 30 days validity
- for 299 THB you get 7-days internet with 1.5 GB high speed data, 100 THB credit with 30 days validity.
The SIMs are available at their store at Suvarnabhumi Airport or other stores, 7-11, Family Mart and more outlets The nice thing about Tourist SIMs is no need to learn how to top up and select data packages in your first 7-days.
The default data rate outside packages is THB 2 per MB. These add-ons can be bought:
|50 THB||160 MB||1 day||*777*701#|
|270 THB||1.5 GB||10 days||*777*702#|
|690 THB||3 GB||15 days||*777*703#|
|9.63 THB||unlimited Wifi||1 hour||*777*380#|
When used up the speed will be throttled from 42 Mbps to 64 kbps.
- IDD prefixe: 005 (quality) or 00500 (budget on some tariffs, from THB 3/min)
- APN: internet
- Website AIS 1-2-Call
dtacEditdtac is Thailand's second largest network by the number of users. It is partly owned by Telenor group from Norway and is the network that owns the biggest wireless bandwidth in the country. Its new network branding is called Trinet (a network that operates on three different frequencies) and its prepay brand is called Happy. 4G/LTE started in 2014 on 2100 MHz in Bangkok only and was expanded in 2015 to Phuket and Pattaya and another 40 cities: 4G coverage map
Where to buyEdit
You can get their SIM cards from almost any shop including at the airports, but if you prefer you can obtain it directly from their stores.
Happy Tourist SIM Edit
Dtac also sells SIM cards with short validiy and unlimited data for tourists. The SIM card is called Happy Tourist SIM. It comes in two varieties of starter packs and is on 2G/3G:
- Happy Tourist SIM 299: 299 THB, 100 THB credit included valid for 35 days and unlimited internet (FUP 1.5 GB) for 7 days
- Happy Tourist SIM 599: 599 THB, 100 THB credit included vaild for 35 days and unlimited inernet (FUP 4 GB) for 15 days
Excess data is charged at 2 Baht per MB. You can actually buy their Tourist SIM online here and get it shipped overseas for a whopping THB 350 surcharge worldwide. You can also find the Tourist SIM on Amazon.com to be sent abroad.
Data Packages Edit
You can simply get any of their prepaid SIM cards. It almost does not matter which one you get as long as it is the prepaid Happy on Trinet SIM cards. The SIM card would cost you 49 Baht (USD 1.6) and include very little value you can use (similar to AIS above). You are expected to top up almost immediately to be able to make long calls and use data.
For the unlimited internet plans below, you get connection at full speed for a certain amount of data, then your speed will be capped at the stated fair use policy (FUP) maximum speed which is varied respective to the plan you choose (but you can use them as much as you like, they are unlimited after all).
|"Unlimited" Packs||Price||Data||Overuse||Wifi||Activation code|
|49 Day-Pass||49 Baht||150 MB||384 kbps||n/a||*104*29*9#|
|199 Week-Pass||199 Baht||1 GB||384 kbps||n/a||*104*28*9#|
|299 Month-Pass||299 Baht||750 MB||128 kbps||n/a||*104*353*9#|
|890 Month-Pass||890 Baht||5 GB||384 kbps||Unltd.||*104*22*9#|
For the plans that include WiFi, you must first obtain your username and password by dial *4000# and then you can connect any of your device (can be your laptop or a tablet) to all DTAC Wi-Fi hotspots. The WiFi usage is unlimited. Dtac WIFI can be found mostly in shopping centres and airports. And the following are the data plans:
|49 Baht||75 MB||7 days||*104*252*9#|
|79 Baht||200 MB||7 days||*104*253*9#|
|99 Baht||100 MB||30 days||*104*25*9#|
|349 Baht||1.5 GB||30 days||*104*254*9#|
|549 Baht||2 GB||30 days||*104*255*9#|
For all these plans:
- Excess data: 2 Baht per MB
- To see remaining data, dial: *101*9# <call>
All of the packages above are only on 2G and 3G. For 4G/LTE these two packages are offered (see remarks on top):
- 399 THB: 3 GB per month , activation: *104*21*9#
- 650 THB: 6 GB per month, unlimited dtac Wifi, activation: *104*23*9#
- 799 THB, 12 GB per month, unlimited dtac Wifi, activation: *104*343*9#
- IDD prefixes: 004 (quallity) or 00400 (budget on some tariffs like the Tourist SIM, starting at 1 THB/min for many countries)
- APN: www.dtac.co.th
- Website: dtac smartphone SIM , dtac data packs
TrueMove HEditTrueMove H is Thailand's third largest network. They were the first provider in to bring 4G/LTE on 2100 MHz only to Thailand. Its 4G/LTE coverage is the best so far in the country and comprises 80% of the population: 4G coverage map in Thai and list in English.
TrueMove is part of the larger True Corp. conglomerates, owned by CP Group which is the biggest retailer owning all 7-Eleven and Tesco stores in Thailand.
One thing you should know is that TrueMove and TrueMove H are two different networks (but they are both owned by the same company). TrueMove is no longer allowed to sell their new SIM cards as their license to operate has come to an end. Customers from the existing TrueMove networks are being transferred to the new TrueMove H.
Where to buyEdit
You can get their SIM cards from almost everywhere but if you prefer you can obtain it directly from any of the True Corp stores (including True Online and True Visions stores). Electronic top ups at all 7-11 stores or Family Mart.
When you arrive at BKK airport, you should check their promotions at their shop in the arrivals hall at concourse A, 2nd floor, opposite Gate 5. They offer often promotion mostly on their tourist SIM which are not available at other places and are mostly for starting-up and the first package only.
Tourist SIM Edit
TrueMove H also sells SIM cards for tourists. The SIM card is called the 3G Tourist Inter SIM. It comes in 3 starter packs:
- Free SIM (promotional): free, 20 MB data, 10 THB call credit valid for 7 days
- Starter Pack: 49 THB, 90 MB data, 20 THB call credit valid for 30 days
- Value Pack: 299 THB, 1.5 GB high speed data, throttled to 128 kbps, 100 THB call credit valid for 7 days.
To activate, type *123# <call>. After the included bundle has expired, then you can add these top-up bundles:
|50 Baht||160 MB||-||1 day||*900*8915#|
|150 Baht||500 MB||-||3 days||*900*8916#|
|200 Baht||1 GB||-||7 days||*900*8917#|
|350 Baht||1.5 GB||unltd.||15 days||*900*8918#|
|650 Baht||3 GB||unltd.||30 days||*900*8920#|
|299 Baht||1.5 GB + 150 THB credit||-||7 days||*900*1903#|
Default data outside packs or for overuse is 1 THB per MB. The Tourist SIM is on 2G and 3G only.
3G SIM CardsEdit
You can simply get one of their prepaid SIM cards with 3G data called iNet. The SIM card is sold for 49 THB and includes very little value you can use (similar to AIS and dtac above). You are expected to top up almost immediately to be able to make long calls and use data.
For the "unlimited" internet plans below, you get connection at full speed for a certain amount of data, then your speed will be capped at the stated fair use policy (FUP) maximum speed which is varied respective to the plan you choose.
For the plans that include Wi-Fi, you must connect to the @TRUEWIFI hotspots (not the .@ TRUEWIFI) and then log-in using your phone number. They have the biggest WIFI network with more than 100,000 hotspots: Hotspot Locator must also log out after you finish. These monthly iNet packages are offered on 2G, 3G and WiFi for Prepaid:
|Price||Data (FUP)||Wifi||Overuse Speed||Activation Code|
|150 Baht||1 GB||-||cut off||*900*8903#|
|199 Baht||1 GB||unltd.||128 kbps||*900*1801#|
|299 Baht||1.5 GB||unltd.||128 kbps||*900*1329#|
|399 Baht||3 GB||unltd.||128 kbps||*900*1339#|
|699 Baht||6 GB||unltd.||384 kbps||*900*1369#|
If you finish your data, then you would be charged at 1.25 Baht per MB.
TrueMove sells this promotional prepaid SIM on 3G, 4G/LTE and WIFI for tablets and modems. The starters are sold for 79 THB including 500 MB in 30 days
Make a network scan, if 4G is available. Speed is up to 100 Mbps on 4G/LTE. Default rate outside package is 0.25 THB per MB. These monthly 4G add-ons are on offer:
|179 Baht||1.5 GB||128 kbps||*900*8816#|
|299 Baht||2.5 GB||128 kbps||*900*8817#|
|399 Baht||4 GB||128 kbps||*900*8818#|
|699 Baht||8 GB||384 kbps||*900*8819#|
|799 Baht||12 GB||384 kbps||*900*8820#|
- IDD prefixes: 006 (quality) or 00600 (budget on some tariffs like the Intersim starting from 1 THB/min to major countries)
- APN: internet; username and password: true
- Website partly in English: http://truemoveh.truecorp.co.th/?ln=en
- To change SMS Notifications to English: Press *700 [CALL], then 1 (For English), 5 (Change Language), 2 (SMS), 2 (English), 1 (Confirm)
- Or, Press 9304 [CALL], then follow voice prompts to switch language between Thai and English.
- To check your remaining balance: Dial 9302 [CALL] (voice response) or Dial *123# [CALL] (SMS response).
Tune Talk (on TOT) Edit
Tune Talk is one of the first MVNOs in the country. It started in 2013 and targets visitors, youth and professionals. It uses the network of state-owned TOT. Tune Talk is affiliated to AirAsia and the most accessible MVNO for tourists on the TOT network.
Tune Talk is a MVNO on the TOT network in 3G on 2100 MHz only. So for using Tune, you need to have a 3G device on this frequency. TOT network is quite good in the Bangkok and most towns giving very high speeds on DC-HSPA+ as it doesn't have so many users as the 3 private networks. But it's in 3G only, with no fallback to 2G/GSM and still very patchy in the countryside. TOT 3G coverage map
So it might be a good choice if you stay in Bangkok, but for travelling throughout Thailand better choose one of the three major networks.
Where to buy Edit
Their discounted starter packs are available on all Thai AirAsia flights along with the duty-free items. You can ask any flight attendant for this SIM card. Be sure not to get a Malaysian Tune Talk SIM. This is also a way to buy the SIM before landing, as at Don Mueang airport in Bangkok the choice of SIM cards is very low.
The "TuneNet!" SIM is available for THB 99 with 500 MB data at their dealers too. If you only get a "TuneTalk" SIM, you can change to TuneNet! by typing *788# and select "Tune Net".
Top up vouchers are available for THB 50, 100, 300 and 500 to give a valiability for 30 to 90 days. They are sold at Thailand Post, Big C or as electronic top-up at 7/Eleven stores.
Data packages Edit
Data on the TuneNet! SIM is by default outside of packages THB 0.50 per MB. You can choose these monthly packs to add data by typing *788#:
- 250 MB: 50 THB
- 500 MB: 100 THB
- 1.5 GB: 300 THB
- 2.5 GB: 500 THB
Check data balance by typing *700# <call>. Overuse is charged at the default rate. You can buy a new package anytime.
Further information Edit
- IDD prefixes: 007 or 008, but rates are not as low as True or dtac
- APN: tunetalk /or/ internet
- Website in English: http://th.tunetalk.com/