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When you’re in an unfamiliar place, what do you always have on hand? Your smartphone! It’s right in your pocket ready to be whipped out when you need to get directions, call a cab or view your surroundings. Of course, when you’re travelling abroad in a country like Thailand, your usual phone might not cut it.
In order to stay well connected on your trip, here’s everything you need to know about SIM cards in Thailand.
The Optus Travel plan allows you to use a pre-paid account that lets you top up as you go. According to their global roaming information, voice calls in Thailand cost $1.30, calls to other countries are $2.35 and data costs you $0.02 KB.
If you’re a Telstra customer, you can sign up for the international roaming plan or a pre-paid account that provides you with broadband services while abroad. Their International Day Pass rates are just $10 a day for those travelling in Thailand.
Those with Virgin Mobile have an International Roaming feature in their online account or the app. All you have to do is turn it on to activate roaming. However, you may wish to purchase an International Roaming data pack. Thailand is under ‘Zone 1’ which means your package will range from $30 to $85.
Vodafone’s roaming plan costs only $5 and can be turned on through MyVodafone.
For the most reliable service, it’s your best bet to go with one of the Thai telcos (AIS, DTAC or True). That said, you can only use a Thai SIM card if your phone is unlocked and requires a SIM card. It’s rare that a phone does not have a SIM card these days, however it’s still important to check as you won’t be able to get a local number if you don’t have one. Here’s a little more on each provider:
AIS is one of the more popular brands and has the most reliable coverage. They offer SIM for Traveller packages that range from 599 Baht (AU$24) which gets you 6GB and internet for 15 days, to 49 Baht (AU$2) for a pay-as-you-go plan.
DTAC provide’s Happy Tourist SIM packages also ranging from 599 Baht (AU$24) to 49 Baht (AU$2), though they have a couple more options in between, allowing you to better customise your trip.
True’s pre-paid packages are better designed for those on a short trip with prices ranging from 49 Baht (AU$2) to just 10 Baht (AU$0.42).
When you arrive in Thailand, the major airports (like Bangkok’s Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi as well as Chiang Mai and Phuket) should have booths on site for each provider. The tourist packages are easy to obtain when you arrive, however the packages are mostly for those only staying a week or so. If you want to get away from the bustling airports, or want an extended deal, head to the retail shops outside of the airport once you’re settled.
You also have the option of purchasing a SIM card online so you have before you go or at your accommodation. However, if you visit a store, a rep can activate the SIM, load credit and ensure you select a package that’s best fit for you.
It’s important to know that the major retailers (including the booths at the airport) will require you to show your passport and will even take a photo when buying a local SIM card. This is not a scam, but it is a fairly new process so don’t be alarmed. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, you can purchase a SIM card off of a street vendor, however, these are not nearly as reliable and can be shut off at any time.