Planning a trip to Thailand? Buying a prepaid Thailand SIM card or eSIM with data plan to keep you get connected during your Thailand vacation is highly recommended.

Thailand is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine. When visiting Thailand, staying connected with family and friends, accessing maps and navigation apps, and using social media platforms can be necessary for a comfortable and convenient trip.

You can ensure this by buying a Thailand SIM card or eSIM. While SIM cards have been the standard choice for tourists, eSIM are now getting more and more popular thanks to its convenience and ease of use.

So, which one is the best for travelers to Thailand? Discuss the pros and cons of each option and how to choose the most suitable one for your trip in the Land of Smiles.

I. Should You Get a Thailand SIM Card When Traveling to Thailand?

Yes, it’s recommended. When traveling to Thailand, you may need a new local SIM card if you want to access local mobile networks and use your current phone to make calls, send text messages, or surf the Internet. 

It is because your homeland SIM card may not be compatible with the local mobile networks in Thailand or the roaming fees for using your main SIM card may be too expensive. 

By buying a new SIM card for Thailand, you can reap some benefits as follows:

  • Taking advantage of Thailand’s 4G/5G networks to have better coverage.
  • The price of using a local SIM card will be much cheaper than internal roaming fees
  • Data-only SIM cards will help you save money in case you do not need to use calls/texts.

Which place / city in Thailand will you go in your trip? See useful guides on buying SIM cards or eSIM by place?

Thailand sim cards for travelers
Thailand sim cards for travelers

II. Types of Thailand SIM Card for Tourists

Note:

Before buying a new SIM card, make sure that your phone is unlocked so it can receive the signals of cellular operators in Thailand.

In terms of forms, Thailand SIM cards for tourists are now available in the following types: 

  • Physical SIM
  • eSIM
Thailand sim types
Thailand sim types

1. Physical Thailand SIM Card (mini-SIM, micro SIM, nano SIM)

This type of SIM cards in Thailand include:

  • Prepaid local Thailand SIM cards

Prepaid Thailand SIM cards are popular among tourists. You can buy it at the airport and many convenience stores. This type of SIM offers a certain amount of data, calling and texting credits that could be used during your trip.

Where to buy: At the Thailand airport, in official stores of mobile network operators or in convenience stores in Thailand.

Requirements: Passport and probably personal information like ID card.

  • Tourist SIM cards

Tourist Thailand SIM cards are specifically designed for those traveling to Thailand and offer special rates for data or even calls/texts. These SIM cards are readily available at the Thailand airport and many convenience stores.

Where to buy: Buy online, at Thailand airport, in mobile carriers’ official stores, in convenience stores.

Requirement: Passport and probably personal information.

2. Thailand Tourist eSIM

What is eSIM for Thailand
eSIM for Thailand tourists

eSIM is more popular now. Thailand tourist eSIM allows you to buy online and helps you stay connected in Thailand almost wherever and whenever you are. It has the same function as a traditional tourist SIM card. 

Oftentimes, tourists will choose data-only tourist eSIM for their trip to save money while still maintaining contacts with others via apps.

It is recommended to compare the plans and rates offered by different mobile network providers to find the best option for your needs.

Where to buy: Buy at online stores of Thailand mobile operators or other eSIM providers like Gigago, thailandesim.com.

Requirement: An unlocked and eSIM-compatible device. Check out eSIM compatible device list.

Buy your Thailand eSIM plan!

III. Thailand SIM Cards vs Thailand eSIM: Which One Is Better for Tourists?

eSIM is one of the alternatives of Thailand SIM cards. Is it better than SIM card? In fact, eSIM comes with some advantages and conveniences for travelers compared to SIM cards. 

Here is a brief comparison between Thailand eSIM vs physical SIM card. Let’s see how similar and different they are!

Factors eSIM for Thailand Thailand SIM cards
Similarities
  • They are both sims, and have the ability to connect the phone to the mobile provider’s network in Thailand and keep them get connected everywhere in Thailand
  • They both work in a dual-sim phone
Form An eSIM is a digital sim that allows users to activate a mobile data plan from the network provider without having to use a physical nano-sim.  A sim card is a chip which is physically inserted or removed inside the phone with your carrier’s plan.
Where to buy online Picked up at a store or shipped to you
Pros
  • eSIM is digital: eSIM is built-in the motherboard of a mobile device. You can buy Thailand tourist eSIM outside Thailand, download them ANYWHERE as long as you have internet access, and have it activated right after you land in Thailand.
  • eSIM cannot be physically damaged or lost: because it is inside the phone, the eSIM will not be lost or damaged like the physical sim.
  • eSIM are not limited: it allows you to switch lines whenever you want. You can store multiple eSIMs in a device. This is a big plus in comparison with physical SIM cards.
  • You can set up eSIM before arriving in Thailand and activate them after landing.
  • You can avoid the sim card registration scheme of Thailand, which is mandatory for those using Thai SIM cards.
  • Sim is removable: if your phone’s battery is died, you can swap the sim card into another unlocked device with a working battery
  • Sim are easily bought at local markets or convenience stores in ThailandSims are usually cheaper than eSIMs.
Cons
  • eSIM does not work in older phones: because eSIM technology is relatively new, not all phone models can work with eSIM. You may have to buy a new expensive phone if you want to use eSIM
  • Sim card can be lost or damaged: If you remove your sim and place it somewhere

Take away: Which type of SIM to choose when traveling to Thailand?

>>> Thailand eSIM seems to be a better option for your trip due to its convenience and ease of use.

Thailand eSIMs are offered by many eSIM providers. You can find out eSIM plans for your Thailand trip on thailandesim.com.

Thailand eSIM (AIS) Unlimited 10 Days
Thailand eSIM (AIS) Unlimited 10 Days
$14.9
Thailand eSIM (dtac) Unlimited 15 Days
Thailand eSIM (dtac) Unlimited 15 Days
$19.9

IV. Top Thailand SIM Cards and Thailand eSIM for Tourists: Plans and Prices

There are several SIM cards and eSIM plans specialized for tourists. It will include various data and validity that fits to your trip. Let’s refer to some best Thailand SIM cards and eSIM plans below:

1. Thailand SIM Cards for Tourists

SIM cards in Thailand vary based on each Thailand mobile operator. You can check out the SIM card and mobile internet plans on their official websites. Then, the prices of each Thailand SIM card provider will be just slightly different.

Some SIM card options from mobile operators that you can refer to:

Mobile operatorsDataValidityPrices
dtacUnlimited data and calls8 days449 THB – ($13 USD)
dtacUnlimited data and calls15 days699 THB – ($20 USD)
dtacUnlimited data and calls30 day1,199 THB – ($34 USD)
AIS15 GB data + free social media + 15 THB calling credit8 days299 THB ($8.6 USD)
AIS30 GB data + free social media + 15 THB calling credit15 days599 THB ($17 USD)
AIS300 GB data + free social media + 15 THB calling credit30 day1,250 THB ($35.7 USD)
Thailand SIM card options for tourists *Updated in May 2024

2. Top Thailand eSIM for Tourists

The cost of eSIM in Thailand can vary depending on different factors like the service provider, type of device and data plan. 

The following eSIM data packages are currently available for tourists to Thailand which can give you a quick overview of the eSIM cost.

NetworkDataValidityPriceWhere to buy
DTACUnlimited (15GB at MAX Speed & Unlimited at 384kbps)8 days$8.90https://thailandesim.com/esim/dtac-thailand-8days-unlimited/
DTACTRUE UNLIMITED without data cap15 days$19.90https://thailandesim.com/esim/dtac-thailand-15days-unlimited/
DTACUnlimited (50GB at MAX Speed, the speed for the rest down to 384 kbps)10 days$12.90https://thailandesim.com/esim/thailand-10-days-unlimited/
AIS15GB at MAX Speed, and Unlimited at 384kbps8 days$9.90https://thailandesim.com/esim/ais-thailand-8-days/
AIS30GB at MAX Speed, and Unlimited at 384kbps
Validity: 10 days
10 days$14.90https://thailandesim.com/esim/ais-thailand-esim-10-days/
AISTRUE UNLIMITED without data cap30 days$34.90https://thailandesim.com/esim/dtac-thailand-30-days/
Thailand eSIM prices from thailandesim.com

Note: Before choosing an eSIM plan for your Thailand trip. Please ensure your device is unlocked and compatible with eSIM. Check out eSIM compatible device list.

How much data does a tourist need when traveling in Thailand?

  • Oftentimes, 3GB to 5GB of data will be enough to cover a trip of those with regular data usage. If you want to use more data or travel for a longer duration (about 1 month), you may want to get the plan with higher data volume or longer validity.
  • Wifi networks in Thailand is very friendly, so, to save data, you should make use of Public WiFi as long as possible.

V. Best Mobile Network Operators Offer Thailand SIM Card and eSIM

In Thailand, there are 3 main mobile operators (dtac, AIS, TruemoveH) provide Thailand SIM card and support eSIM services to prepaid customers:

Note: A corporate merger between True Corporation and DTAC, Thailand’s second- and third–largest mobile network operators, has been in progress since its first public announcement on 22 November 2021.

Thai mobile operators - Thai sim and esim
Top 3 famous mobile operators in Thailand

1. AIS (Advanced Info Service)

AIS (Advanced Info Service) is the largest mobile network operator in Thailand, providing 3G, and 4G mobile services to customers. With a speed at 43.52 Mbps as reported in Q3 2023, AIS offers the fastest mobile data in Thailand.

Read more about AIS SIM cards for tourists!

When choosing AIS, you will not only have options for Thailand SIM cards, but also various options for tourist eSIM plans at affordable prices. It will include unlimited data and free on-net calls for customers:

AIS eSIM Unlimited Data and Calls 8 Days
AIS eSIM Unlimited Data and Calls 8 Days
$9.9
AIS eSIM Unlimited Data and Calls 10 Days
AIS eSIM Unlimited Data and Calls 10 Days
$14.9

2. DTAC (Total Access Communication)

Dtac (Total Access Communication) is the second-largest mobile network operator in Thailand, offering voice, data, and mobile internet services.

Dtac has extensive coverage similar to AIS, but with a focus on urban areas. It is also known for its good network quality and reliable service, making it a popular choice for many consumers.

You can find out more information about dtac via dtac official website or dtac SIM cards guide for tourists.

Update: A corporate merger between True Corporation and DTAC, Thailand's second- and third–largest mobile network operators, has been in progress since its first public announcement on 22 November 2021.

dtac also has both SIM card options and eSIM plans with unlimited data. You can refer some eSIM plans from thailandesim.com below:

dtac eSIM Unlimited Data and Calls 15 days
dtac eSIM Unlimited Data and Calls 15 days
$19.9
dtac eSIM Unlimited Data and Calls 30 days
dtac eSIM Unlimited Data and Calls 30 days
$34.9

3. TrueMove H (True Corporation)

TrueMove H (True Corporation) is a subsidiary of True Corporation and provides mobile and broadband internet services in Thailand.

TrueMove H is known for its high-speed 4G network and . It has a strong focus on data services, and is a popular choice among those who need fast and reliable internet access. The coverage of TrueMove H is considered to be good, but not as extensive as that of AIS or Dtac.

Update: A corporate merger between True Corporation and DTAC, Thailand's second- and third–largest mobile network operators, has been in progress since its first public announcement on 22 November 2021.

TrueMove H tourist SIM card offers unlimited high-speed internet, free incoming calls, and low-cost outgoing calls and SMS.

Note that: The availability and support of eSIM technology may vary depending on the device and plan, so it’s always best to check with the carrier for the most up-to-date information.

Here is a quick summary of those 3 Thailand SIM card providers in Thailand:

FactorAIS MobileDTACTrue Move H
CoverageBestGreatGood
SpeedFastFastFast
PriceCheapCheapCheap
Short comparisons between mobile operators in Thailand

The quick brief above shows that:

  • DTAC is the mobile network operator with the best 4G coverage. It also gets awards related to core consistent quality. 
  • DTAC has good coverage in urban areas.
  • AIS is the mobile operator with the best 5G coverage and fastest Internet speed, followed by TrueMove H and DTAC.
  • TrueMove H has good 5G coverage, after AIS
Mobile coverage in Thailand - Thai sim and esim
Mobile coverage in Thai by network operator

VI. FAQs about Thailand SIM Cards and eSIM

Do I need to unlock my phone to use SIM cards in Thailand?

It depends on your phone and carrier. Some phones and carriers may require you to unlock your device to use eSIM, while others may support eSIM straight out of the box.

Can I use my eSIM in other countries besides Thailand?

Yes, you can use an eSIM in other countries, as long as your mobile network operator offers international roaming services. However, it’s important to check the rates and coverage in advance, as they may vary by country.

Is it cheaper to use eSIM in Thailand compared to a Thailand SIM card?

It depends on the plan and carrier you choose. Some eSIM plans may offer cheaper rates compared to traditional SIM cards, but it’s best to compare the different options available to determine which one is the best for your needs.

Is there any unlimited Thailand SIM cards?

Yes. Many network carriers offer unlimited Thailand SIM card plans for tourists. However, you should note that some unlimited SIM card plans will include only specific high-speed data, then it will be slow down.