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Best Thailand Travel SIM Card for Tourist

It is now the 21th century, and you need to connect to the world every day.

You want to call your family and friends at home to share a picture of the beautiful landscapes or the wonderful people you met.

Or sometimes you need to finish your urgent business.

This will lead to the popular questions: 

  • How can you call back home from Thailand? 
  • How can you connect to the internet in Thailand?
  • And what is the best travel SIM card for tourist in Thailand?

We make it all clear below.

Phone Call in Thailand

First of all, we need to understand the phone number system in Thailand and how to make a phone call from/to Thailand.

Thailand phone number

Land lines number

Geographic (fixed line) area codes are, excluding the STD prefix 0, one digit in Bangkok and nearby provinces (area code 2) and two digits in all other provinces (area codes 3x, 4x, 5x, and 7x). In Thailand, an area code is usually shared by several provinces and roughly follows provincial borders.

Fixed-line subscriber numbers are six digits in Thailand (except Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan, i.e., area code 2).

Prior to 1980, subscriber numbers were six digits in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan.

In 1980, subscriber numbers in these areas were expanded to seven digits in phases to meet new demands.

The first digit of a subscriber number is associated with a specific locale within the area code.

In Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan, the second digit of a subscriber number identifies the service provider, which is almost always Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT), as TOT holds a near-monopoly of the Thai fixed-line market

Thus, a full national number is 9 digits, including the STD prefix 0. When writing a telephone number with the area code, the area code and subscriber number are separated by a hyphen, also in the middle of subscriber number.

Examples:

  • A number 2134567 in Bangkok: 02-2134567
  • A number 213456 in Nakhon Ratchasima: 044-213456

Thailand switched to a closed dialing plan in 2001, which means that calling within the area code requires the area code to be dialed. E.g., When calling a number 2134567 in Bangkok (02) from a fixed-line phone:

  • Within Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan: 02-2134567
  • Outside Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, and Samut Prakan: 02-2134567
  • Outside Thailand: +66-2-2134567 (the initial 0 of the area code is omitted)
Area Code Area Served
02 Bangkok (Krung Thep Maha Nakhon), Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Phutthamonthon (Nakhon Pathom)
032 Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Ratchaburi
034 Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Pathom (except Phutthamonthon), Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram
035 Ang Thong, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Suphan Buri
036 Lop Buri, Saraburi, Sing Buri
037 Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri, Sa Kaeo
038 Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Rayong
039 Chanthaburi, Trat
042 Bueng Kan, Loei, Mukdahan, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Bua Lamphu, Nong Khai, Sakon Nakhon, Udon Thani
043 Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et, Nam Nao (Phetchabun)
044 Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Surin
045 Amnat Charoen, Si Sa Ket, Ubon Ratchathani, Yasothon
052 Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son
053 Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son
054 Lampang, Nan, Phayao, Phrae
055 Kamphaeng Phet, Phitsanulok, Sukhothai, Tak, Uttaradit, Sam Ngam, Wachirabarami (Phichit)
056 Chai Nat, Nakhon Sawan, Phetchabun (except Nam Nao), Phichit (except Sam Ngam & Wachirabarami), Uthai Thani
073 Narathiwat, Pattani, Yala
074 Phatthalung, Satun, Songkhla
075 Krabi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang
076 Phang Nga, Phuket
077 Chumphon, Ranong, Surat Thani

Mobile telephones number

Mobile phone codes are in area codes 8 and 9, and VoIP are in the area code 6, ranging 2 digits excluding the leading zero.

Originally, each mobile phone operator was issued one mobile phone code. Through a series of mergers, there are currently three major mobile phone operators: AIS, True and DTAC. As existing numbers begin to run out, the three mobile phone operators are assigned numbers in code 081, distinguished by the first digit of the subscriber number.

A mobile phone number consist of a mobile phone code and a seven-digit subscriber number. Therefore, a mobile phone number is written as 087-4755507.

Mobile phones in Thailand use 900/1800 MHz for GSM. Domestic roaming service is available free within Thailand in places where there is only a single transmitter in place due to restrictions.

As codes are being exhausted, a new range, 09x is made available for assignment. Despite the length of the code, subscriber numbers are seven digits, resulting in a 10-digit national number including the leading zero. Starting 28 April 2011, the prefix 090 followed by 7 digits would be available for use.

Code Service Code Service
060 TrueMove (VoIP) 088 TrueMove
061 AIS 089 DTAC
062 AIS 090 DTAC
063 AIS 090-1 AIS
064 TRUE 090-9 True Move H, AIS
065 AIS 091 TrueMove H
066 DTAC 092 AIS
068 TOT (VoIP) 093 AIS, TrueMove H
080-0 to 080-2 AIS 093-1 AIS
080-3 TrueMove 093-5 AIS
080-4 to 080-5 DTAC 093-6 AIS
080-6 AIS 094 DTAC, TrueMove H
081-0 to 081-2 AIS 094-0 to 094-1 TrueMove H
081-3 to 081-6 DTAC 094-22 to 094-23 TrueMove H
081-7 to 081-9 AIS 095 AIS, DTAC, TrueMove H
082 AIS 095-6 TrueMove H
083 TrueMove 095-8 TrueMove H
084 AIS 096 TrueMove H
085 DTAC 097 AIS, TrueMove H
085-4 AIS 098 AIS
086 TrueMove 099 AIS, TrueMove H
087 AIS 099-5 TrueMove H

How to make a phone call

To Thailand

Exit Code Country Code Area Code Local Number
## 66 ### ######

 

EXIT CODE

This is the code you need to dial OUT from a country. It is also referred to as the IDD code (International Direct Dialing) or ISD code (International Subscriber Dialing)

COUNTRY CODE

This is the code you need to dial IN to a country. Each country is assigned a unique country code.

The country phone code of Thailand is 66

For the full list of different country phone codes, please check HERE

AREA CODE

This is the code for a part of the country. It is usually a general area or a city. Some countries are not large enough to warrant their own code, so will have the country code 1 and use the area code to define the country.

You can check the full list of area codes in Thailand in the Land line number part

If there is no area code (i.e. the mobile number), just ignore and come directly to the number.

For example, in case you want to call the mobile number: 087-4755507, just dial: Your country exit code + (66-87-4755507). 

Below are some examples

  • From USA & Canada: 011 66-87-4755507
  • From France: 00 66-87-4755507
  • From German: 00 66-87-4755507
  • From UK: 00 66-87-4755507
  • From Belgium: 00 66-87-4755507
  • From Switzerland: 00 66-87-4755507
  • From Australia: 0011 66-87-4755507

The numbers in red are the country exit code. For the full list of country EXIT CODE, please check HERE

From Thailand

Exit Code Country Code Area Code Local Number
001 ## ### ######

 

The exit code of Thailand is 001

Then type your country code + your area code (if any) + the number that you want to call

Below are some examples (add area code to the telephone number if needed)

  • To USA & Canada: 001 + 1 + Telephone number 
  • To France: 001 + 33 + Telephone number
  • To German: 001 + 49 + Telephone number
  • To UK: 001 + 44 + Telephone number
  • To Belgium: 001 + 32 + Telephone number
  • To Switzerland: 001 + 41 + Telephone number
  • To Australia: 001 + 61 + Telephone number

The numbers in red are the country code. For the full list of different country phone codes, please check HERE

Internet in Thailand

Internet access is good in Thailand. Wifi is available in most cafés, restaurants, malls and hotels and also the Internet speed is OK. There are several cellular companies operating in Thailand and they also give you good Wireless Internet access.

Internet speed

Thailand’s average broadband-internet speed ranks 8th in Asia and 52nd worldwide, according to US network diagnostics firm Ookla.

Based on results of voluntary tests done on its Speedtest.net website, Ookla said the rolling-average broadband throughput over the past 30 days in Thailand came in at 19.9 megabits per second, ahead of Vietnam (17.6 mbps), and Cambodia (9 mbps), but far behind world leaders Singapore (121.7 mbps) and Hong Kong (102.6 mbps).

Of course, it cannot be compared with what you have in Europe or USA. However, you can easily do almost everything including surfing the internet to check the information, sending the email with some pictures to your friends, or make a video call via Skype or WhatsApp with your family without any delay.

Internet access

To get Internet in Thailand you have basically 3 options

1. With a Wi-Fi (or cable) Connection:

Your hotel, restaurant or café may provide you with a Wi-Fi connection (or a cable connection). Most of the times the wifi is free if you consume a drink or you stay at the hotel, other times the business asks for a special fee.

2. With a Local Sim of one of the cell phone Networks

If Internet access is important for you and you want to be independent from the wifi networks in cafés and hotels, buy a local SIM from one of the local cellphone (cellular) networks and make a pre-paid Internet subscription, like that you can get internet even under a coconut tree on an island.

3. With the Sim Card of your country

This is usually not going to be the cheapest option. The cellular network of your country will charge you high for phoning or using internet from abroad and it is difficult to beat the prices of Thailand, but you can never know. If you are not sure about the prices that your operator will charge you, buy a local SIM for your stay in Thailand.

Internet censorship

Most Internet censorship in Thailand prior to the September 2006 military coup d'état was focused on blocking pornographic websites. 

The following years have seen a constant stream of sometimes violent protests, regional unrest, emergency decrees, a new cybercrimes law, and an updated Internal Security Act. 

Year by year Internet censorship has grown, with its focus shifting to lèse majesté, national security, and political issues. 

The subsequent 2014 Thai coup d'état has led to further restrictions on Internet content in the country, using the powers of the coup's National Council for Peace and Order. 

Internet filtering in Thailand was classified as selective in the social, political, and Internet tools areas, and no evidence of filtering was found in the conflict/security area by the OpenNet 

Initiative in November 2011. Thailand is on Reporters Without Borders list of countries under surveillance in 2011. 

Freedom House, in 2014 awarded Thailand an overall score of 62 ("not free") (0=best, 100=worst) for Internet freedom, citing substantial political censorship and the arrests of bloggers and other online users, ranking it 52 of 65 countries. 

In 2013 Thailand had been rated as "partly free"

As a tourist, we recommend you stay away from any above mentioned illegal online actions to avoid ending up your trip in prison or at least a cash fine for … nothing.

Further information about Thailand internet censorship, you can check HERE

Buying a local SIM Card in Thailand

Now we answer the most important question: what is the best Thailand travel SIM card for tourist?
We will first need to know...

Who are the Cellular operators in Thailand?

The 3 big Thai cellular companies are:  TRUE, AIS, DTAC

They all have an English version of website, some are clearer than others. The most prominent company is true. The advantage of true is that they have a chain of coffees in Bangkok and in some of these places they have personal who can help you with the SIM card and the pre-paid subscriptions. 

How much does a Thailand SIM card cost?

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

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

AIS Traveller SIM 599 THB (excl VAT) = Unlimited internet for 15 days, 6GB at MAX speed, 100 THB call credit.
The package for AIS is pretty much the same as the one of DTAC

True Move

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.

Lately in March 2019 this is the Thailand sim cards they sell at the official True Move shop.

Finding the best prepaid Thailand sim card based on the available packages is like walking through 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!

Where to buy a SIM Card in Thailand?

You have several options:

At the cellular operators selling points. This is the preferred choice because you get full assistance. All the cellular companies have offices at the big malls around Siam, especially at Siam Paragon mall. true has also cafés in town with cellphone support, very convenient.

At the 7 Eleven grocery stores. They are open 24 hours a day, and they sell SIM cards and you can fill credit in your pre-paid account. The vendor is doing it for you.

At the airport, but there is always a queue of people and prices are sometimes slightly higher.

You can fill credit by yourself via your phone or their website with a credit card. I wouldn't do it without experience.
Note :

  • A SIM card is sometimes distributed free at the hotels or at the airport. If not, the price of the SIM card is symbolic, after all the cellular operators want you to use their networks.
  • Remember to bring your passport along as they require the identification to sell you the SIM Card

How to subscribe to a pre-paid Internet program with the Thailand SIM card?

My advice to make your SIM card work is … to ask the help from the sellers! Yes, that is all you need to remember.

What you need to know is which prepaid package that you want to register and top-up money at least enough for that. Prepare the money and give it to the sellers, then leave it for them.

Of course, do not forget to recheck the plan that they register before leaving.

You can either ask for help from the hotel receptionists, this seems better as they can speak English and give you some advices.

The story is even much easier if you have an escorting guide who can do everything for you.

That’s it. Do not waste your time to learn about something you will not do it twice.

In case you really want to learn about this, we recommend reading this article: https://prepaid-data-sim-card.fandom.com/wiki/Thailand

The question you should ask now is…

What is the best Thailand travel SIM Card for tourist?

There are 5 factors that you should consider

Coverage

If you plan to travel around the big cities and tourist hubs, you can choose any operator. If you plan to visit the remote area, choose the one with the largest coverage.

At the time we write this article (July 2019), AIS and TrueMove has quite the same 4G coverage. Meanwhile DTAC is a little below the 2 above provider.

Check the below maps for your reference:

4G coverage of True Move

4G coverage of AIS

4G coverage of DTAC


 

Data usage

We recommend you buy a limited data package (just in case) as the public wi-fi (restaurants, coffee shops, hotels) is almost everywhere in Thailand. Moreover, you do not need internet during most of the daytime while travelling around. You only need it in the evening or early morning while you are … at the hotel.

The internet speeds

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.

Phone & Text

We recommend you buy some extra minutes to call your guide and driver sometimes; or you can register and call a grab taxi to go around on your own.

Duration of your journey

The longer your journey is, the bigger data package and more minutes to call you need.

The recommended SIM Card for Sonasia Holiday traveler

After considering all the factor above, we recommend you buy a SIM Card for tourist from AIS, who has the largest 3G or 4G coverage all over the country. With THB599, you can have fairly enough for what you want during your journey in Thailand

Tip: 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 travelers this tool is perfect to see what the best Thai sim card for nomads is. That said, AIS is the best provider at the moment, but things change quickly. It is best to re-check the situation when you travel.

To conclude

It is fairly cheap and popular to have internet access in Thailand.

For our travelers, we recommend you buy a Portable Mobile Wi-fi Router, with which you can buy only one SIM Card and share the Wi-fi internet with your travel mate on the go. 

In the urgent case, if you do not have the Wifi router, you can use internet tethering on your mobile phone to use the internet on your computer or share the internet with your travel mate.

Wherever you have connection, you can use Skype or WhatsApp to call to your family without all the hassle of learning about exit code or country code to dial your friends’ numbers at home.

Hope that the article help you have more information about the communication system in Thailand. If you need the most updated information, feel free to CONTACT US at your own convenience.

NOT READY YET?

We believe you have the right to arm yourselves with as much information as possible before making any decision.

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