Planning a trip to Bangkok, Thailand, you may want to stay connected during your vacation, right? Buying a prepaid Bangkok SIM card or eSIM package with data is highly recommended.
A quick start about Thailand SIM cards in Bangkok:
- Best mobile network operators in Thailand: AIS, followed by TrueMove H, and DTAC.
- Recommended travel SIM: data-only
- Best Thailand SIM for travelers: prepaid SIM card or eSIM with a data plan
- Newest Thailand travel SIM card form: eSIM
Let’s see why we have these facts and tips in the following parts!
In terms of forms, there are 02 types of Bangkok SIM cards types, which are:
- Physical SIM card, and
- eSIM profile (digital SIM)
- International roaming can be expensive, that is why using travel SIM cards and eSIMs in Bangkok is recommended to save money.
- To use Thailand SIM, your phone needs to be unlocked first.
Here is the details:
Table of Contents
I. Physical Bangkok Thailand SIM cards for tourists
1. Types of physical Thailand SIM cards in Bangkok
There are several types of physical Bangkok SIM cards available for purchase, including:
- Prepaid local SIM card: This type of SIM card is intended for use by residents of Thailand and offers affordable voice and data plans with local carriers such as AIS, TrueMove H, and DTAC.
- Prepaid SIM card for tourists: This type of SIM card is designed for visitors to Thailand and typically includes unlimited data usage, free international calls, and other features tailored to the needs of tourists.
- Data-only SIM card: This type of SIM card is intended for use in devices such as mobile hotspots or tablets, which do not require voice or messaging capabilities.
2. What do you need to prepare to buy a SIM card as a tourist?
Which documents are needed for tourists? According to Thai law, you need to show your proof of ID when buying a Thai SIM card.
Besides, depending on where and whom you buy a SIM from, you will need to show your passport or a photo of your ID card.
3. Bangkok SIM card price
The service prices of mobile network companies in Thailand are not very different from each other. Whichever company you choose, it will almost be the same price with the same data plan/validity.
AIS, DTAC and TrueMove all have a package of unlimited data used in 8 days for about 10 USD (about 300 baht).
4. Which SIM card is the best in Bangkok?
There are 3 major mobile network operators in Thailand in general and Bangkok in particular that you can buy Bangkok SIM cards for tourists, which are: DTAC, TrueMove H, and AIS. It is said that TrueMove and AIS have good coverage across Thailand, both urban and rural areas while DTAC is good in most big cities like Bangkok and Phuket. However, DTAC is a little bit cheaper in comparison with others.
If you travel to Bangkok, you can choose DTAC because its coverage and speed is good. Moreover, it saves you money. Sounds great?
II. Bangkok travel data eSIM for tourists (digital SIM)
1. What is Bangkok eSIM?
eSIM is a digital SIM card embedded in a mobile device. For tourists to Bangkok, eSIM can be a convenient option because it allows you to activate mobile service without having to insert a physical SIM card.
Some mobile network carriers in Thailand offer eSIM services for tourists, allowing you to make calls, texts and access to the Internet during your vacation.
Most travelers to Bangkok make use of an eSIM with data plan since it helps them stay connected with family and friends while still saving money.
2. Types and features of Bangkok eSIM
In terms of function, Thailand eSIM is divided into 2 types:
- Data eSIM (for internet access only), and
- Voice, text and data eSIM (for both analog calls, SMS and internet access)
Below are some main features of Thailand data eSIMs:
- Most data eSIMs for Thailand do not come with Thailandese phone numbers, so you cannot make analog phone calls or texts, but you can do it via apps.
- The eSIM data plan will automatically connect to the supported mobile network and give you instant access to the Internet.
- eSIM can be installed once only. So if you remove it, you cannot set it up again on any mobile device. However, there are some eSIMs from certain providers which can be installed again once the old one is removed. In such cases, their validity is accumulated and remains unchanged.
- You can add multiple eSIM profiles on a phone, depending on the memory storage of the phone. But only one is activated at a time and maximum 3 eSIMs in one phone is recommended so as to optimize your phone performance.
- Top-up ability: depending on the eSIM provider, when you use up your data, you will need to buy a new data plan or be able to top up.
III. Where to buy Thailand SIM for Bangkok as a tourist?
You can find it easy to buy a SIM Vietnam in Bangkok, consisting of:
- Buying online,
- Buying upon arrival, and
- Buying in the city.
Getting a SIM Thailand in Bangkok is easy. You can get a SIM card for Bangkok just about everywhere in the city.
Here are 3 popular ways to find Thailand SIM in Bangkok:
1. Buy Thailand SIM for Bangkok online
There are several websites and online marketplaces that sell Thai SIM cards, such as AIS, DTAC, and TrueMove H. You can purchase a SIM card and have it delivered to your hotel or a pickup location in Bangkok.
Apart from sim cards, when buying online, you can choose to buy esim for tourists. This option is flexible no matter where you are. You can even buy Thailand esim for Bangkok travel prior to your departure date in many online stores on the Internet. Gigago, Thailandesim.com, Airralo, Holafly, Digital Nomad,… are some of the most popular esim providers available now.
I will instruct you to buy esim for Bangkok travel with the guidelines below:
- Visit the website of provider, such as Thailandesim.com, for example
- Choose the data plan that fits your needs and make a payment
- Receive esim information and installation guide in your email
- Set up the esim before departure and be prepared to activate it after landing in Bangkok
- Enjoy internet connection right after landing
Each of the esim providers has specific pros and cons and I will go into details in the next part.
2. Buy at the airport
Alternatively, you can also purchase a SIM card at the airport. Either at Suvarnabhumi airport (BKK) or Don Muang Airport (DMK), it takes about 10 minutes to get the SIM card. But there is always a queue of people and prices are sometimes slightly higher.
After landing, just exit the baggage claim area. There are phone shops, convenience stores, and counters operated by Thai mobile operators such as AIS, DTAC, and TrueMove H at the airport arrivals floor. It is a good idea to research these companies’ websites to learn more about their package and rates before arriving in Thailand so you can make an informed decision.
Here are 4 steps to buy travel sim cards for tourists at Bangkok airports (and tips from experienced travelers):
- Step 1: After clearing customs, look for the signs directing you to the kiosks or shops of the mobile network provider in the arrival hall of Suvarnabhumi Airport or Don Muang Airport.
- For Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport: the arrival hall is on Floor 2, where sim card stores, money exchange, and ATM machines are located.
- Step 2: Choose the sim card package you want. Choose slowly and compare the detail and rates of each package with each other.
- Step 3: Buy the plan you want. You need to show your passport, and the staff there will take photos of you and your passport for record and require you to fill in some basic personal info, including your name and contact details.
- Step 4: Pay for the SIM card or any additional services. The staff will activate the sim card and set up your phone so you can use it instantly. Do not to forget asking the staff about the plan (data usage restrictions, international calling rates, and expiry dates)
- If you buy sim cards by cash, you need to exchange money. Do not exchange money in the restricted area, they can offer poor exchange rates. Instead, exchange money at the arrival hall.
- You can go for Super Rich currency exchange with good rates and fast services. You just need your passport + the currency you want to exchange into Thai Baht.
- Always double check your money because even the most reliable money exchange can miscount.
3. Buy in mobile carriers’ stores and others (mobile shops/street vendors)
You can buy a SIM card at mobile carriers’ stores in Bangkok like DTAC, AIS, TrueMove H, which are found throughout Bangkok and often have English-speaking staff available.
► Mobile carriers’ stores: Each of 3 major mobile network providers in Thailand (AIS, DTAC, TrueMove H) has multiple stores and kiosks throughout Bangkok where you can buy a tourist sim card. You also need to show your passport to the staff.
Location of their stores are located in major shopping malls and tourist attractions:
- AIS: A list of locations on their website at https://www.ais.co.th/store/en/.
- DTAC: A list of locations on their website at https://www.dtac.co.th/en/support/store-locator.html.
- True Move: A list of locations on their website at https://truemoveh.truecorp.co.th/help-support/shop-location/.
► Other stores: There are also other stores in Bangkok where you can find a Thailand SIM card for tourists, be it convenience stores, electronic stores, and even street vendors. However, the selection of plans and services of such stores may be more limited. Some popular locations are:
- 7-Eleven: a popular convenience store chain in Bangkok which can be found thoroughly in the city. They are open 24 hours a day, and you can fill credit in your pre-paid account to buy SIM cards. The vendor is doing it for you. Look for “DTAC Happy Tourist SIM” or “AIS Traveler SIM packages”.
- After getting into the store, you look for the SIM card section (usually located near the cashier or near the mobile phone accessories section)
- Choose a SIM card plan that best suits your needs, whether it is data-only or a combination of voice calls, texts, and data.
- Make a payment using cash or a credit card. You need to provide identification, like a passport for activation purposes.
- Activate the SIM card by following the guidelines provided with the SIM card package. This often requires you to insert the SIM card into your phone’s SIM tray, restart the phone, and wait for the activation process to complete. Then, enjoy your Internet connection.
- MBK Center: MBK Center is a large shopping mall in Bangkok that’s popular with tourists. You can find many electronics stores on the fourth floor that sell SIM cards for tourists. The prices and plans may vary, so it’s a good idea to compare before purchasing.
- Khao San Road: Khao San Road is a famous backpacker district in Bangkok, and many street vendors sell SIM cards for tourists. While the prices may be lower than at official stores, be cautious of counterfeit or expired SIM cards.
► In case you are going to travel other destinations in Thailand, read on more useful guide to buying (e)SIM cards in other Thailand city.
IV. Must-know tips for tourists to staying online in Bangkok
1. Internet connectivity in Bangkok
Bangkok has a well-developed and relatively fast internet infrastructure. In general, internet connectivity in Bangkok is good, both in terms of availability and speed. Most hotels, cafes, restaurants and public areas offer free Wi-Fi to tourists.
- Free Wi-Fi in Bangkok:
For hotels in Bangkok, the quality and availability of internet access can vary depending on the hotel’s location and price range. Luxury hotels in prime locations offer the fastest and most reliable internet connections, while budget hotels may have slower or less reliable connections.
For cafes and restaurants, many in Bangkok offer free Wi-Fi to customers, making it easy for tourists to stay connected while enjoying local cuisine. However, the internet quality can vary depending on the establishment, and some may have time or data usage limitations.
- Restrictions on Internet use in Bangkok, Thailand
Tourists should be aware of restrictions before using the Internet in Bangkok or other destinations in Thailand. For example, the Thai government has implemented strict laws in regard to online content deemed to be offensive to the monarchy or national security. Accessing such content will result in severe penalties. Besides, websites or social media related gambling, pornography, and illegal activities are also blocked or restricted.
2. Mobile data in Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital of Thailand with a well-developed mobile data network. Some major mobile operators in Bangkok that offer mobile plans with varying data allowances and speeds are AIS, DTAC and TrueMove H. Each has competitive mobile plans that cater to the needs of different users. They all have an English version of websites and have a store at the airport.
Here are some details about these mobile operators:
- AIS (Advanced Info Service) is the largest mobile operator in Thailand with 45% market share
- DTAC (Total Access Communication) has a significance presence in the market with 27% market share
- TrueMove H has market share of 28%
- All three operators offer extensive 4G and 5G coverage across Bangkok and its surrounding areas, but the quality of coverage and speed may vary depending on specific locations and time of the day.
- AIS, DTAC and TrueMove H all offer a variety of options, both prepaid and postpaid. Prepaid plans are popular among tourists and short-term visitors.
There are other providers, which are LINE Mobile and AIS Super Wifi which are less renowned. When choosing a provider, it’s important to consider your needs for data, voice, and SMS services, as well as the validity period and pricing of the SIM card. Each provider has their own pros and cons, so it’s a good idea to do some research and compare plans before making a purchase.
3. Wi-Fi hotspots
To stay connected while on the go in Bangkok, you can find public Wi-Fi hotspots available across the city, including cafes, restaurants, hotels, shopping malls, public parks, transportation hubs like airports and train stations.
To save your data usage, you can take advantage of public WiFi whenever possible. However, be noted that WiFi hotspots are widely available in Bangkok, but they are not always secure.
It is recommended to use a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing public Wi-Fi networks to ensure privacy and security.
4. Online services for tourists
Bangkok has a wide range of online services available for tourists, including ride-hailing apps like Grab, food delivery apps, and online booking platforms.
Ride-hailing apps like Grab are widely used in Bangkok, can be downloaded for free and available in multiple languages, making them easily accessible to tourists who may not speak Thai.
Food delivery apps like Foodpanda, GrabFood and Line Man are also popular in Thailand’s capital, providing tourists with easy access to different local and international cuisine without leaving their hotels or accommodations.
Online booking platforms for tours and attractions such as Klook and GetYourGuide are also popular in Bangkok, allowing travelers to easily book and pay for a wide range of activities, from city tours to temple visits to cooking classes. These platforms have options for different budgets and interests, and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.
- If you are just going to major cities in Thailand, DTAC is the best choice.
- If you are planning to visit smaller towns like Chiang Rai, stick with AIS or Truemove.