How to use a SIM card outside and inside of Thailand?

One thing you must do as soon as you arrive in Thailand is to get a SIM card at the airport. With the SIM card you can continue your digital life, Utilize Google and Apple Maps for navigation and most importantly, download delivery and taxi applications to help you move around.

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Where can I get a SIM card?

You can get a SIM card at the airport, or any shopping center in Thailand. We recommend you get a SIM card at the airport. There is nothing as remarkable as stepping onto  the soil of Thailand with your phone working.  You can text your friends and family to tell them you arrived safely or call your airport pickup so they know which terminal you are at.
Once you get past the baggage section at the airport, you will see many SIM card vendors. Almost all of them are similar, just look for the one that has the most data for the lowest price for the longest time.
Pick a plan that will last for the duration of your trip and all plans in Thailand will work in the entire country. 
The next best place is at any small to mid-size shopping center. And the least desired place is at small convenience stores.
If you choose the airport or shopping center, they will install the SIM card for you right there and then and make sure it works perfectly so you are good to go. If you buy a SIM card at a convenience store, you will be on your own.
No matter where you buy the SIM card, you do need to at least show the passport you used to enter Thailand.

Do they have ESIM’s in Thailand?

Yes they do. Both at the Airport or Shopping centers will set you up with the ESIM in your phone. Not all providers have it. So you can ask.
In Thailand all the cell phone providers have shops beside each other so its pretty easy to ask.

How much is a typical prepaid plan in Thailand?

It depends on how long you want the plan. Most of the plans are data only with a few minutes for calling. But with one of the more popular plans that are tourist oriented, we see these rates:
8 days with 15 Gigs of data (4G or 5G) 299 Baht (about 6 US Dollars)
15 days with 40 Gigs of data 599 Baht (about 17 US Dollars)
Once you stay longer, we recommend you download the app that comes with your plan and easily use your credit or debit card to change to a longer plan.
You can top-up the phone from anywhere in the world using the App.

How do I “top up” my phone?

If you’re using a lot of data or you’re staying longer in Thailand, you can always renew your plan. You can conveniently visit any convenience store, department store, or numerous machines throughout Thailand to add funds to your mobile account. If you have a bank account in Thailand, you have the option to conveniently recharge your mobile account through the online banking application.

Does my SIM card expire?

As long as you keep some money on your SIM card it will not expire. You can even go back home with it and in some cases you will receive text notifications on it.

You can keep your SIM card until the next time you come back to Thailand. 
You can even top it up online from your home country if you really want to keep it active.
We know people who have bought a “tourist” SIM card in Thailand and have kept it active for years.

Can I roam with this card?

Yes, most of the service providers allow roaming with your SIM card. Let’s say you want to take a side trip to Vietnam, all you have to do is add a roaming plan to your phone. The plan will activate once you land in Vietnam and everything works as normal with the same number.
Your data, calls and text messages will work to send messages to anywhere in Vietnam or Thailand.
What’s more they have roaming plans for most of the world, so if you go back to Europe, Australia, North America or anywhere in Asia, your plan can work transparently. Even if you’re already in another country, you can use Wi-Fi to load up the app and select a roaming plan which will start work immediately.
So it’s really important to download the app for your phone provider.

How important is a phone in Thailand?

Unless you’re just coming here for a few days and never plan to return, we recommend you get a SIM card, or at least an ESIM card. You hotel, getting a visa extension, and many, many other interactions will require a phone number.
Having a local phone number is a wonderful idea. It is also important to be able to share your number with friends you meet.

Speaking of this topic;

What apps are essential for Thailand?

Once you get a local number, the most important number one app to download in Thailand is LINE.
LINE is the text messaging app that is most popular in Thailand by far. You will hear the phrase “ADD LINE” quite often. When it comes to adding contacts on LINE, individuals have the option to add you either by using your phone number or your unique LINE username.
Many local businesses, hotels, and transportation companies in Thailand utilize LINE as a primary means of communication. Therefore, a significant number of calls and interactions are likely to occur through the LINE messaging platform.
WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram are relatively less prevalent compared to LINE in terms of usage and popularity in Thailand.
We recommend you also download Google Translate or your favorite translation app. Google Translate is pretty good, since you can ask it to Listen and translate on the fly so no need to type in words.
Next, always have Google Maps on hand, since Thailand is very well represented in the map, from the smallest rural road to the busiest city. Most businesses will also have a Google Maps profile so its easy to give them a review if you got great service.

We trust that this blog has provided you with valuable information regarding SIM cards in Thailand. If you require any further assistance in preparing for your trip or during your stay in Thailand, feel free to contact us Baansmile.

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