Purchasing your sim card for Thailand online is a great way to ensure you have enough time to do your research, make an informed decision, and receive your sim card before you depart. No precious holiday time is wasted standing in a queue at a cell phone shop.
The special Tourist (or travelers ) SIM-cards of these providers can cost anywhere between 500 to 1300 THB. The prices differ due to the validity in days, the GBs of high-speed internet and its Call/SMS budget that sometimes is included. Therefore, best choose a SIM-Card that matches your kind of traveling.
There are several things you should pay attention to when choosing and buying a Thai SIM-card with internet access. The average convenience store employee is not skilled in communicating in English. It can be a challenge to understand what's available or explain exactly what you are looking for, so it is important to know what the possibilites are.
Also, pay close attention to your other settings to avoid surprises (enormous bills). The first thing to prepare when buying a Thai SIM-card is your passport, since registration is mandatory by law. It's not possible in Thailand to get a SIM-card without being registered with your passport.
Consider if you are going to make phone calls to Thai numbers. Additionally, most packages are non-upgradeable. This means, if you intend on staying 18 days, opt for the 30-days SIM-card if you wish to stay online, instead of a 15-days sim card.
Purchase of a new SIM card is easy, and can be done at operators' shops in major malls or at the airports or at any 7-Eleven, Family Mart and many mini markets. Thailand does, however, have a strictly enforced mandatory SIM card registration and you will need to provide your ID or passport at the point of purchase (see below).
Some users argue that local SIM cards bought in a mini store are cheaper. That's right, but tourist plans sold only in branded operator stores at the airport or in malls have other advantages. If you want to call IDD, they give you the lowest rates (ask for the prefix). In these stores you will get English-speaking service and they will install the SIM in your device with all the configurations. You clearly understand your plan and the included services print out in English. They are not a rip-off like in some other SE Asian countries and a valid option for not so experienced users. In addition, for late-night arrivals generally the operator desks at the airport selling tourist SIMs are the only ones active (the registration system mini-markets use for registering local SIMs shuts down at night so even if the store is open, they can not complete activation for you), so if you want a local rate plan you will have to wait until the next day.
In the list below we show some of the local prices as an indicative because there are many more options and promotions around. These plans are separate from the Tourist and Roaming SIM cards that you need to buy in a branded store and both lines can't be mixed.
The big three operators have SIM cards for all sizes - normal, micro and nano SIMs. All major operators allow tethering and they treat all data going through their network equally. 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. Tethering provides, most of the time, excellent quality. It's sufficient for VoIP and supports PPTP/SSL/IPsec VPNs. If you work remote and are a heavy user, you will have a trouble free experience.
Adding credit or airtime is quite easy as long as you stay in Thailand. Loading airtime gives you ability to make calls or subscribe to data packages and also extends the lifetime of the SIM card. A few physical places where you can top-up are 7-Eleven, Family Mart, BigC, Tesco, phone kiosks and the outlets of the operators. Note that 7-Eleven can only sell top ups for cash and not for AIS.
You have to top-up a Thai SIM card 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 months. Many Thai SIM cards expire in 45 days after the last top-up, unless you are able to add extra validity. The bare minimum to maintain validity is 10 THB every month. DTAC's policy is that every top-up extends SIM validity by 30 days, so multiple small top-ups will keep your SIM active for longer than one large top-up (example: 5 x 20 THB top-up extends your SIM validity by 150 days compared to a single 100 THB top-up). Additionally, True and DTAC allow you to extend validity for a price, check this site on how to extend.
Before you purchase any SIM card, make sure that the network you are choosing is compatible with your devices (see below). The big three providers have different networks operating on more than one set of frequencies that are combined through domestic roaming. So you should better enable roaming on your device, even for domestic use. Most old networks mainly on 2G are about to decommissioned soon. These frequencies are used for 3G, 4G/LTE and since 2020 5G NR:
Under the law all SIM cards have to be registered from 2015. You will need to show an ID at the point of purchase. This is now enforced in all providers stores and outlets very strictly and from the end of 2017 a new biometric system is introduced. You will now additionally have your face scanned or fingerprints taken.
The new system is mandatory from 2017 to the registration of both new prepaid and postpaid SIM cards, but not to existing SIM card holders. It's to be used across Thailand in all 55,000 customer service shops and outlets. Operators can choose to use either the face or fingerprint recognition verification system.
The number of new SIM cards sold by all three major mobile phone operators that are ordered to introduce this new biometric registration system is around 4.2 million units monthly. Under the previous method, the registration locations copied only the ID cards of the SIM card buyer together with a barcode of the purchased SIM card.
You can get their SIM cards online (only for old 3G SIMs) to be sent to a Thai address and at airports, major shopping malls, telecom stands, in AIS and Telewiz branded stores (shop locator in Thai with map). Change language of their messages to English by pressing *700# and choose option 5.
Top-ups can be done in many ways, but ATMs and internet banking require Thai bank accounts. So topping up by an electronic top-up or cash card is recommended. They are sold at some convenience stores such as Family Mart, Tesco/Lotus, Big C or online. 7/11 stores do not sell AIS top-ups anymore, but usually you can find a stand alone vending machine which will allow you to use cash to top up. A small fee will be deducted.
1-2-Call SIM cards are their regular prepaid voice and data cards. All new SIM cards include 4G/LTE and 5G are sold for around THB 50 with a THB 15 call credit and some bonuses. They offer a huge array of SIM cards:
AIS has a rather large and confusing range of data add-on packages (in addition to their many SIM card types, some of which already come with data). These data packages on up to 4G/LTE can be activated on all their SIM cards from above.
As of early 2020 AIS has a special promotion with unlimited volumes only for new SIM cards. It must be activated within 7 days of card activation and works only if no other package has been applied to the card before:
You will need to purchase any AIS SIM card (for 50 THB) in order to buy a WiFi pass. All packages now provide access to to AIS Super WiFi, which has superior speeds (tested up to 150/150 Mbps in real world use) compared to the normal WiFi (capped at 10/1 Mbps). For the 1 hour and 5 hour packages, time is counted from login to logout. To log out, go to wifi.ais.co.th.
The AIS SIM2Fly was originally meant for outbound Thai tourists, but is now being distributed throughout the region, because it offers quite good roaming rates. The SIM2Fly SIM card comes in 2 varieties:
As the data package is 100 THB less then the price of a new SIM card, it may be worthwhile to keep your SIM active. You can extent the validity by various methods listed here. AIS SIM2Fly can be found for sale all over SE Asia. Some online shops are selling SIM2fly SIM cards to foreign countries for a surcharge and delivery fees. To top-up from abroad you can use (5% fees apply for credit card payments and amounts start at 20 THB) or other agencies that can charge up to 30% fees.
Be aware of the strict Thai SIM cards validity rules: prepaid SIMs can expire in as little as 45 days after last use. Any top-up (regardless of the value) extends validity for another 30 days. To maintain a validity of one year then, you can top-up 12 times, getting 30 days with each top-up. Minimum top-up value is 10 THB, but most international agencies start at 20 THB only. As long as the SIM is active, your credit balance remains for next use. There is one online service that will automate this process to add 360 days to your prepaid SIM for a fee. Generally, these top-up requirements can make the deal much less attractive for occasional users, but remain a good option, if you buy and load it in Thailand for an onward journey through SE Asia.
These packages can be added online and start immediately. Data is throttled to 128 kbps for the remainder of the active period after the high-speed allowance is used up. You can buy the same packages as a new SIM card called Go Inter (see below).
You can get their SIM cards from almost everywhere, but you should obtain it directly from any of the True Corp. stores (including True Online and True Visions stores) or 7-Eleven kiosks. Electronic top-ups are sold at all 7-Eleven stores or Family Mart. There, you have to know and enter your number. All currently available starter packs are 4G/LTE enabled. Retail price is 10 THB in promotions and regular 49 THB. Default rate of the first two SIMs is 1.50 THB per MB of data.
All of their SIM cards are now 4G/LTE enabled and are sold for THB 0-49 with very little credit. Speed is up to 100 Mbps on 4G/LTE. Default rate outside package is 1.50 THB per MB. These 4G/LTE packages can be booked on all 4G SIM cards. For all prices add 7% taxes: 59ce067264