Which Thai SIM card is best? A comparative review for AIS, DTAC, TrueMove H, and Thailand E-sim

In this Thailand sim card guide, I compared the three best providers, AIS, DTAC, TrueMove H, and Thailand E-SIM regarding pricing, Internet coverage in the country, and data speed.

Hi Trisha! I found your digital nomad blog through a friend here in Berlin and I must say wow you have traveled a lot in your life!!! I am particularly interested in all your Asia content since I have not been. Thank you for all the solo female travel and remote work tips. I can see that you go to Thailand a lot. What is the best Thailand sim card you recommend? I am getting mixed information and different recommendations among friends so I thought to ask you. Thank you so much in advance!

Bernd Finkel, Germany
thailand sim card

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Hi Bernd!

Thank you for the message and for supporting this blog! AIS is normally the preferred Thailand sim card but I’ve been using my DTAC sim for years so I did not change it to AIS.

I realized I don’t want to collect hundreds of sim cards for every country I visit so I kept my Thai sim since I always go to this country.

I am only with DTAC because of the time I have been using it, but you can opt for AIS if you want to. In this post, I’ve compared the three different top Thai SIM card providers so you can check what works well for you.

As usual, I can’t really decide what sim card works best for you as I don’t know how you use the Internet. If you are going to use it for Hotspot, definitely go for DTAC but if you are traveling around the whole country, AIS is great!

If you have any questions that weren’t answered here, I’d be happy to update this post – just let me know! Good luck on your trip and enjoy Thailand!

Xx,
Trisha

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🙋 Is it necessary to buy a Thailand SIM card?

thai sim card
DepositPhotos.com

For me, it is necessary because I work online but if you are only in Thailand for a few days, the wifi in the hotels are very decent, especially in major cities like Bangkok where there’s better infrastructure.

If you need it for work, you definitely need to buy a Thailand sim card. But if you don’t want to spend extra and also plan to be disconnected, you can just connect to your hotel’s wifi.

I do understand that in this day’s digital age, you’d likely want to be connected even if you are not a remote worker (share travel photos and reel sto friends), so yeah, the necessity of buying a sim card in Thailand depends on yor personal preference.

Many travelers ask if they can use their US cell phone in Thailand and the answer is YES! Verizon and AT&T has international plans although I am long ago unsubscribred to these since I am always traveling.

But I am 100% sure that local Thai sim card data plans are way cheaper than Verizon or AT&T. I mean, you can get a data plan in Asia for $5 USD for 8 days!

If your phone is locked to any of these US providers, the local Thailand SIM card providers may not support your US phone. However, it will still work with Wi-Fi in Thailand.

🆚 Thailand sim card vs Thailand E-sim

DepositPhotos.com

I am a fan of both local SIM cards and E-sim. In many countries, the e-sim doesn’t work as I expect it to (and vice versa), so as a digital nomad, I often have both.

I know that’s not too convenient but if your livelihood depends on the Internet, you got to have it all.

If you are deciding between a local Thai sim card versus a Thailand E-sim, here are some points to consider:

Thai Sim CardThailand E-sim
Installation and SetupRequires a visit to a store or kiosk to purchase and activate. Physical installation in your device is necessary.Instant activation and setup directly from your smartphone or tablet. No need to visit a store or swap physical SIM cards.
ConvenienceMight be less convenient for travelers who wish to avoid the hassle of finding a store and dealing with potential language barriers.Highly convenient for travelers who want to arrange everything in advance and have their data ready upon arrival.
CompatibilityWorks with any unlocked phone that supports SIM cards, offering broader compatibility.Compatible with eSIM-enabled devices. Not all phones support eSIM technology, so compatibility could be an issue.
CostTypically offers more cost-effective options, especially for longer stays or heavier data usage, with local rates and promotions.Prices are competitive and are often tailored for short-term use, but might be slightly higher than local rates due to convenience factors.
Flexibility and Plan OptionsOffers a wide range of plans that can include unlimited data, calls, and texts, often with added benefits like local discounts.Provides a variety of plans tailored to different durations and data needs, which can be easily switched or upgraded through the app.
Coverage and SpeedDirect access to the local network provider’s service, which can potentially offer the best available coverage and speeds in remote areas. Utilizes local networks, so coverage and speed are generally good, but performance can vary based on the underlying carrier.
Customer SupportAccess to in-person customer support in stores, which can be beneficial for resolving issues quickly.Support is typically provided online through chat or email, which can be convenient but may not be immediate.

💰 Thailand E-sim prices

The Thailand E-sim has competitive pricing compared to local Thai sim. Again, I use both in an emergency since my job is 100% dependent on the Internet.

I also love these pricing plans because it’s not so overwhelming: there are only 2 choices and they are both straight to the point.

The price difference is only $10 USD for the 50 GB plan and the unlimited data plan. And this is only for Thailand. Actually, the Asian plan covers 18 countries and starts at $5 USD for 7 days!

Thailand E-sim (Basic)
$9.90 USD

HAPPY TOURIST SIM

  • 50 GB
  • 100 minutes of calls (local0
  • 10 days validity
  • 15 BHT calling credit for international calls

Thailand E-sim (Infinite)

$19.95 USD

HAPPY TOURIST INFINITE

  • Unlimited data
  • Unlimited calls (local)
  • 15 days validity
  • 15 BHT calling credit for international calls

🤳 Bonus: If you are traveling to other countries in Asia, you can opt for the regional plan covers 18 Asian countries for as low as $5 USD. This way, you don’t have to worry about your sim card while changing countries.

📍Where to buy a sim card in Thailand

thailand sim card
Photo: DTAC Center

Getting a SIM card in Thailand is easy and convenient because there are many places to get one. The following are some of the most common places to buy a SIM card in Thailand:

Can I get a SIM card at Bangkok airport?

Absolutely!Buying a sim card at Bangkok Airport is more recommended than buying it in the city. The main reason is airports have English-speaking crew.

You can check the dtac Thai sim card kiosks at the Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) International Arrival Terminal at gates 7 & 9, and at the baggage claim areas 10 & 19, from 7 AM – 10 PM daily.

If you want AIS, you can open the AIS Bangkok airport kiosk location here.

For TrueMove, click here to see the shops’ location.’ location.

Official mobile network provider stores

AIS, DTAC, and TrueMove H all have official stores and service centers throughout the country, particularly in major cities and tourist destinations.

These stores offer a wide range of SIM card options and can provide additional assistance in setting up the card, topping up credit, or addressing any other concerns.

thailand sim card
Photo: Morgan Ho

Convenience stores

Popular convenience store chains such as 7-Eleven, FamilyMart, and Tesco Lotus Express can be found in nearly every corner of Thailand.

Most of these stores sell SIM cards from the three main providers, making it a convenient option for tourists who may have missed the opportunity to purchase one at the airport.

Shopping malls and electronics stores

Large shopping malls, particularly in major cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket, often house stores that sell SIM cards.

These stores can be found alongside other electronics and mobile phone retailers. Additionally, popular electronic chains such as Banana IT, Power Buy, and Jaymart may also carry SIM cards.

Mobile phone kiosks and street vendors

It is common to find mobile phone kiosks or street vendors selling SIM cards in bustling areas, night markets, and tourist hotspots.

While this option can be convenient, ensuring that the Thailand SIM card is legitimate and from a reputable source is essential to avoid potential issues.

So far, I have had no issues buying sim cards on the streets of Bangkok or in the markets so I can say street vendors sell legit sim cards.

If you read this article and have a bad experience with buying Thai sim card from the street vendors, leave a comment below to help other travelers!

🇹🇭 Helpful Thai phrases for buying a sim card

Thailand sim card
DepositPhotos.com

If you are in the airport, there will be English-speaking staff who can assist you. However, if you are in the city, I am afraid that not everyone can speak English in Thailand, especially in a very important subject such as a sim card.

Everybody will say just go to a 7 eleven and you will be good to go as the process is pretty straight forward.

But some readers of this blog have reported that is is extremely difficult for them, especially when receiving text messages from the networks.

As in every country, these text messages or confirmations that you get are in the local language. I am so sorry, I do not have any advice.

I just wing it and normally ignore these Thai text messages. It is what it is.

I always have these Thai phrases handy when buying a SIM card in Thailand. I only used Google Translate, but a Thai friend of mine said it is acceptable and understandable.

ThaiPronunciationEnglish
“Kho sim card dai mai?” (คอ ซิม การ์ด ได้ ไหม?)khaw sim kahd dai mai?Can I buy a SIM card?
“Mee internet mai?” (มี อินเทอร์เน็ต ไหม?)mee in-ter-net mai?Does it have internet?
“Tao rai?” (เท่า ไร?)tao rai?How much is it?
“Lod data dai mai?” (โหลด ดาต้า ได้ ไหม?)loht da-taa dai mai?Can I top up data?
“Mee prom-chun a-rai baang?” (มี โปรโมชั่น อะไร บ้าง?)mee pro-mo-chun a-rai baang?What promotions are there?
“Chuay dton-triap sim card hai noi dai mai?” (ช่วยต่อเนื่องซิมการ์ดให้หน่อยได้ไหม?)chuay dton-nueang sim kahd hai noy dai mai?Could you help set up the SIM card?
“Sim ni mi khuam sam-rap phut passa ang-grit dai mai?” (ซิมนี้มีความสามารถพูดภาษาอังกฤษได้ไหม?)sim nee mee khuam sa-mat phoot pha-sa ang-grit dai mai?Does this SIM offer English language support?
“Kho sim sam-rap tho-ra-sap dai mai?” (ขอซิมสำหรับโทรศัพท์ได้ไหม?)kho sim sam-rap tho-ra-sap dai mai?Can I get a SIM for the phone?
“Mee wi-fi pheun-thi mai?” (มี WiFi เพื่อนที่ไหม?)mee Wi-Fi pheuun thee mai? Is there WiFi available here?
“Rab chan-mai?” (รับชำระเงิน)rab chan-mai?Do you accept credit card?

You can also copy/paste the Thai translations or simply show this table if you encounter someone who does not speak English while buying a sim card in Thailand.

If you buy a SIM card in Thailand, you may often encounter misunderstandings, especially regarding prices and data plans.

I must warn you: You can get frustrated, especially if given the wrong plan. You might sometimes think in-person buying is better, but in this case, because of language barriers, it really isn’t.

If you don’t want to deal with this, opt for the Thailand E-sim that you can purchase before leaving your home.

📲 Thailand sim card sizes

thailand sim card
Photo: 玩樂主播郭人榮

As in most countries, a Thailand SIM card is available in three standard sizes: nano, micro, and standard (or mini) SIM.

The size of the SIM card required depends on the specific make and model of the mobile device.

Over the years, the size of SIM cards has progressively decreased, with nano-SIM cards becoming the most commonly used size for many modern smartphones.

To ensure you obtain the correct SIM card size, these providers often supply a 3-in-1 SIM card, consisting of a standard-sized card with micro and nano-sized cutouts.

This enables you to break away their device’s appropriately sized SIM card easily.

Alternatively, when purchasing a Thailand SIM card from an official mobile network provider store or a service counter, the staff can help you determine your device’s appropriate SIM card size.

You can purchase a SIM card adapter if you accidentally acquire the wrong SIM card size or need to switch between devices with different SIM card requirements.

These adapters are usually inexpensive and widely available at mobile phone accessory stores, electronic shops, and online retailers.

If you opt for a Thai E-sim, the plans are also based on the type of mobile phone you use. Meaning that if you switch mobile phones, you also need to switch your e-sim plan. (i.e. switch from iPhone 15 to iPhone 15 pro).

🤳 How to choose the best Thailand sim card

thailand sim card
Photo:玩樂主播郭人榮

When choosing a Thailand SIM card provider, it is essential to consider factors such as network coverage, internet data prices, and internet data speed.

Here, based on these criteria, I compared the three main providers which are AIS, DTAC, and TrueMove H.

FYI, I know that AIS is used by many but I’ve always used DTAC because I’ve had the same sim card for a long time. DTAC is also the official local partner of my international e-sim.

Coverage

All three providers offer extensive coverage throughout Thailand, including major cities, tourist destinations, and many rural areas.

While coverage can vary slightly depending on the location, AIS is generally considered to have the most comprehensive coverage, closely followed by TrueMove H and DTAC.

However, the difference in range between these providers is minimal, and you should find all three networks reliable and accessible across the country.

Thailand sim card data prices

The prices for internet data plans offered by AIS, DTAC, and TrueMove H are quite competitive, with all three providers presenting various options to cater to different needs and budgets.

Thailand SIM card plans from each provider typically range from 299 THB to 899 THB, with varying data allowances, calling minutes, and validity periods.

While the prices are relatively similar, comparing the specific data allowances, add-ons, and bonuses each network provides is crucial to determine the best value for your requirements.

Internet data speed

Regarding internet data speed, all three providers have invested significantly in upgrading their networks to 4G and 5G technologies, ensuring fast and stable connections for their users.

While the speed can vary depending on location, network congestion, and device compatibility, AIS is often recognized as having the fastest and most consistent data speeds, closely followed by TrueMove H and DTAC.

However, the differences in data speeds between the providers are generally minor, and most users should find the internet speeds of all three networks sufficient for their needs.

Bottom line

AIS, DTAC, and TrueMove H all offer reliable coverage, competitive internet data prices, and impressive data speeds throughout Thailand.

While AIS may have a slight edge regarding coverage and data speed, the differences between the three providers are marginal.

Here are each provider’s specific plans and offerings, so you can get a better overview and determine which best meets your requirements and preferences.

🏆 AIS: best Thailand sim card

thailand sim card
Photo: Racha King
  • Great coverage all over the country
  • Too many gimmicks on data plan prices

AIS, also known as Advanced Info Service, is one of Thailand’s leading mobile network providers, offering a wide range of SIM card options catering to the diverse needs of locals and tourists.

Known for its extensive network coverage and reliable services, AIS is a popular choice for those looking to stay connected while exploring the country.

AIS sim card prices

# of daysPrice in USDGigabytes
30 days$36300 GB
15 days$1730 GB
8 days$915 GB
Pay as you gofrom $1.50 N/A

All AIS plans have unlimited social media plans for Facebook, Line, Whatsapp, Instagram, WeChat, Tiktok, and Twitter.

Unlimited calls to AIS numbers only and international calls are charged at 1 BHT ($0.0029 USD) per minute.

📱 DTAC: Thailand sim card that locals use

thailand sim card
Photo: bwaters23 / Flickr
  • Can use in other Asian countries (I use this in Indonesia too)
  • Poor pricing on data plans

DTAC, short for Total Access Communication, is another prominent mobile network provider in Thailand, known for its competitive pricing and comprehensive coverage.

DTAC Thailand sim card prices

# of daysPrice in USDGigabytes
8 days$12Unlimited
15 days$19Unlimited
30 days$33Unlimited

DTAC also offers social media only packages for as low as $1.50 USD for 7 days of unlimited usage for platforms like Tiktok or Instagram.

This is the best option if you don’t want to pay for calls and texts.

📳 Thailand sim card with extensive data plan: TrueMove H

thailand sim card
Photo: きんちゃん
  • Has social media and Internet plans if you don’t want to pay for calls
  • Poor coverage

TrueMove H, a subsidiary of the True Corporation, is one of Thailand’s leading mobile network providers, known for its competitive services and extensive network coverage.

TrueMove H prices

# of daysPrice in USDData
8 days$12Unlimited
15 days$20Unlimited
30 days$29Unlimited

📳 How to activate Thailand sim card

Photo: Canva Pro

In most cases, the your purchased Thailand SIM card will automatically activate upon insertion.

However, if you need further assistance or activation is not automatic, you can visit any service centers, where the staff can help you with the activation process.

Alternatively, you can also call hotlines for each sim card providers where they will have an English-speaking staff who can assist you on the phone.

You may wonder how on earth you are going to call these numbers if your Thai sim card is not activated. You can ask your hotel concierge or you can actually use your hotel room’s phone to call these hotlines:

  • dtac: dial 1678
  • True: dial 1242

Do Thai SIM cards expire?

Yes, Thailand SIM cards do expire. The validity period of each card will depend on the package you purchase and the individual carrier, however, it is usually between 30 days to one year.

After this period has expired, your unused data allowance will typically expire as well. It is therefore important to check the expiration date of your card after purchase and keep track of it in order to avoid any inconvenience or additional charges due to expired SIM cards.

🔃 How to top-up Thai sim cards

Photo: Canva Pro

Credits for topping up your Thai sim card can be added through various methods, such as purchasing top-up cards from convenience stores like 7-Eleven or FamilyMart, as well as service centers and authorized retailers.

The top-up card, no matter how old school it is, is still being used for adding Thailand sim card credits.

To add credit using a top-up card, follow the instructions on the card, which typically involve dialing a specific code and entering the unique PIN provided.

Alternatively, you can top up your credit online through the websites of the sim card providers that you chose.

TALK TO TRISHA

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I’ve been giving expert and genuine advice to solo travelers and digital nomads for the last 15 years. You choose the destination and I will answer all your questions!

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4 Comments

  1. I didn’t know that there are different types of SIM cards. Thanks for breaking each down and sharing your thoughtful charts. They really help explain the differences.

  2. Thanks for sharing this handy Thailand sim card guide! I have only been in Thailand for a weekend, but would definitely get the card for a longer itinerary

  3. Love how you broke this down in several different charts- so helpful and easy to compare what might work best on a trip to Thailand. Looks like these would be pretty easy to use on a trip!

  4. So informative! I’m pinning this for when I make it to Thailand. And thanks for the Thai translations – super helpful!

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