The first and foremost practice one must do when arriving in a new country is to purchase a SIM card. This is your foremost way of staying connected with friends and family, something quite essential when traveling abroad. And as always, it is best practice to research before you take up the journey. This blog will guide you through the steps and the required documents to purchase a SIM card as a foreigner in Thailand.
Complete Thailand SIM Card Guide
Table Of Contents
- What Documents Are Required?
- SIM Card Providers
- eSIM Cards
- How Much Does It Cost?
- Which One To Buy?
- Where To Buy The SIM Card?
- How To Activate The SIM Card?
- How To Recharge Or Top Up?
- Self-Service Numbers
- How Is The Internet Speed? Is 5G Available In Thailand?
- Helpful Tips
What Documents Are Required?
All you need is your passport or a copy of your passport to purchase a SIM card when you land in Thailand. The original will be returned to you after taking down the necessary details from your passport. You do not need a passport-size photograph either.
SIM Card Providers
The major network operators in Thailand are DTAC, True, and AIS. All three providers support digital SIM or an eSIM. It is your choice to choose either an eSIM or a physical SIM.
eSIMs are nothing but virtual SIM cards that do not need the physical SIM card to be inserted into your mobile phone. There is a possibility that the eSIM may not be compatible with your mobile phone. Be sure to check for compatibility before opting for this plan. Since eSIM cards need internet to activate, it is best to activate the eSIM upon arriving in Thailand.
The DTAC network operator offers eSIM services in two packages – 50 GB for 10 days at 349 Baht and 30 GB for 15 days at 599 Baht. The sSIM card can also be purchased online even from your home country by uploading a copy of your passport and a picture. Upon arrival in Thailand, the eSIM can be activated by scanning the generated QR code.
Nomad, Airalo, SimOptions, and ThailandeSIM are third-party companies that offer eSIM services in Thailand. Like prepaid SIM cards, these companies have different plans catering to your needs, with varied combinations on the number of days, speed, and price. We have not used them personally. Therefore, we cannot vouch for the quality of service.
How Much Does It Cost?
We’ve compiled the price list of different network operators. You can also check their official website to know the latest prices. We also noticed that the cost of the tourist SIM card differs based on the location. For instance, purchasing a SIM card from 7-Elven came with different plans and was comparatively inexpensive compared to buying a SIM card at the airport. However, you must buy the SIM card from the airport to match the online offers.
|Unlimited 5G data with max 5G/4G speed and calls for 8 days, 15 days, and 30 days
Non-stop internet for 15 GB at 5G/4G speed for 8 days, 50 GB for 10 days, and 30 GB for 15 days
|449 THB, 699 THB, 1199 THB
299 THB, 349 THB, 599 THB
|Unlimited high-speed data and calls for 8 days, 15 days, and 30 days
Unlimited 15 GB at 5G/4G speed for 8 days, 50 GB for 10 days, 30 GB for 15 days
|499 THB, 699 THB, 1199 THB
299 THB, 349 THB, 599 THB
|8 days and 15 GB high-speed data, 15 days and 30 GB high-speed data, 30 days and 50 GB high-speed data
|299 THB, 599 THB, 899 THB
Also, be sure to note FUP (Fair Use policy), which means if the plan mentions FUP data, the speed would be reduced after consuming a certain GB, say, 70 GB for 30 days.
Which One To Buy?
AIS is the largest mobile operator in Thailand, followed by True and DTAC. The speed of the internet varies based on the plan you opt for. The price range is similar across all the network providers.
We had purchased a True SIM card. There were no issues faced. We recommend the True or AIS network operators as they provide better speed and coverage.
The reduced speed isn’t huge if your plan has unlimited data but restricts your speed to 10 Mbps after reaching a certain limit. We were still able to browse and watch YouTube without any significant hindrance. So, opting for limited plans wouldn’t be too constrictive.
Where To Buy The SIM Card?
At The Airport
The three mentioned networks have their stalls in the international airport terminal across Thailand. Purchasing a SIM card at the airport is expensive. There is free WiFi available in the airport and its buses. Additionally, all the accommodations and most restaurants across Thailand offer free WiFi services.
Official Retail Stores
Several AIS, True, and DTAC mobile retailer shops are spread nationwide. You can use Google Maps to locate the nearest store or log into the official websites and locate the stores- True, DTAC, and AIS. The staff in the stores would mostly be able to converse in English, and you can have your SIM card activated in a couple of minutes.
One of the easiest and definitely one of the cheapest ways to buy a SIM card would be in convenience stores, which is where we got ours. When you purchase a SIM card, the cashier will take a picture of your passport and yourself. Though they converse in limited English, you do not require their guidance, for the instructions are clearly detailed on the SIM card in Thai and English. You can activate the SIM card by yourself.
We purchased our TRUE SIM card at the 7-Eleven and were able to activate it the very next minute. All we had to do was insert the SIM card, and voila, that’s it! If you are facing trouble, wait a few minutes and try restarting the mobile phone. It should work, or contact the customer care number on the cover.
- AIS – Family Mart
- True – 7-Eleven
- DTAC – Family Mart, 7-Eleven, and Tesco
Tourist prepaid SIM cards cannot be purchased online in Thailand. The eSIM card from DTAC can be bought online, allowing you to redeem, recharge, or do top-ups online. The official websites of the three network providers are available in various languages, including Thai and English.
Shopping Malls & Train Stations
You can even buy True SIM cards at the shopping malls and the MRT and BTS stations mentioned below. However, the DTAC and AIS network SIM cards are not available here.
- BTS Siam Exit 2 – True Shop Digital Gateway
- BTS Siam Exit 5 – True Shop SIAM Paragon 3rd Floor
- BTS Chit Lom Exit 1,2 – True Shop Central World 4th Floor
- BTS Ploen Chit Exit 5 – True Shop Central Embassy 4th Floor
- BTS Asok Exit 1,3 – True Shop Terminal 21 6th Floor
- BTS Phrom Phong Exit 1 – True Shop Emquartier 3th Floor Building A
- MRT Rama 9 Exit 2 – Central Rama 9
How To Activate The SIM Card?
Activating the SIM card is fairly simple. Insert the SIM card into your mobile phone, and in a few seconds, you will see the network signal on the top right corner of your phone display. If this does not work, try restarting the device; that should do the trick.
If you’re buying it from the airport or official retail stores, the attendant will help you in activating the SIM card. Manual activation is needed only if you’re buying it from the convenience stores. You must dial *120# for AIS to activate the SIM. No such thing is required for True SIM cards.
How To Recharge Or Top Up?
Approach any retail store or do it online (AIS, True, DTAC). You can also try installing the official mobile app. The top-up cards can be bought from the convenience stores. Ask the cashier to refill your balance by providing your mobile number and the amount you wish to refill. True recharge cards are available at 7-Eleven, Tesco Lotus, CP FreshMart, Big C, and official True stores.
The network providers accept Master Card, Visa, and JCB for making payments when you recharge online.
The following numbers come in handy even when you’re offline. Be sure to note them before your trip.
|To check your phone number
|To check the remaining balance
|*121# and *121*3#
|To check the balance and validity of the SIM
|Customer care center
How Is The Internet Speed? Is 5G Available In Thailand?
Thailand has a really good 4G/5G high-speed internet connection, even in the country’s remote corners.
- Download the network provider’s app to check the details of your current plan or if you want to recharge online.
- Generally, the telephone number bought in Thailand starts with the code +66 followed by 9 digits.
- To charge your device, the plug adapter is of 2 vertical pins (Type A), 2 round pins (Type C & F), and 2 vertical pins with an earth pin (Type B).
If you have purchased a local SIM Card in Thailand before, share your experience with us. Drop any queries in the comment section below. Don’t forget to follow us on social media – Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.