Tag - AIS

Guide: Which Thai Mobile Phone Company should you use?

Thai Mobile Phone Companies with Thai tourist sim cards (AIS, DTAC, and TRUEmove)
Do you want mobile phone signal on your island hopping in Thailand? We tested the options, see the results here.

Before you buy a Thai sim card, be sure you buy from the company that best suits your needs. In our previous post, we argued that there are several good reasons for acquiring a Thai sim card for your stay in Thailand. However, the further you get away from the cities and popular vacation spots, the harder it is to stay connected. If you stay on Koh Samui, Phuket or Hua Hin there will be no such issues. But are you island hopping to Koh Kud, Koh Mak, Koh Muk or Koh Kradan you need to use the right Thai mobile phone company.

AIS, DTAC or True Move

There are three main suppliers in Thailand, who all offer sim card packages for tourists. The three operators offer similar products and prices. What is more important, is where you are going to use the phone and for what. Will you use 3G or 4G, and do you want to stream movies and use your smartphone as a WiFi hotspot? Or do you want the best coverage in the entire country? If you are in bigger cities it doesn’t really make much of a difference. We have tested all three mobile service providers in Thailand and done a bit of follow-up research. This is how AIS, DTAC, and True Move compare:

Which Thai mobile phone company? Comparison of AIS (12Call), DTAC (happy), and TRUEmove

For the purpose of island hopping and exploring all corners of Thailand, we definitely recommend AIS (12Call). Prices do not differ much between the mentioned companies, and for a lot of beach aficionados it is nice to have the option to communicate with friends and family, and check your email without burning a hole in your pocket.

Bear in mind that Thai mobile phone companies constantly look to upgrade their coverage, adjust their rates, launch promotions, and provide better and faster internet. So remember to keep yourself updated before you buy.

For those who want a little more detail, we recommend the web page They give nice overviews of coverage with their country maps. You can zoom in on you favourite beach and see which carrier you should use. Take a look at this:

AIS (12Call), DTAC (Happy), and TrueMove Network Coverage Maps

NEW Update!

Thai Cellular Phone Signal Coverage Maps as of July 2017:
Thai Cellular Phone Coverage Maps as of May 2019:

As you can see, the coverage has significantly improved over just a couple of years. Especially TrueMove has improved their coverage throughout Thailand. If you are going to remote islands or rural regions in the country, we still recommend that you research the mobile coverage before you buy your Thai sim card. On OpenSignal, you can type in the exact location of your stay and quickly learn which Thai phone company suits you best.

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Why You Should Buy a Thai Sim Card when Traveling in Thailand

Hand holding a smart phone at the beach
If you intend to use your smartphone or tablet in Thailand, we recommend using a Thai sim card instead of using expensive roaming services with your existing sim card.

So why would you need a Thai sim card in the first place? Here are some occasions where a Thai sim card can come in handy:

Re-confirm appointments and reservations
Call your transfer service, tour company or accommodation provider to confirm reservations and pick-up times.

Meeting up with friends
Planning on meeting with friends? It is very common that circumstances, traffic, illness, and change of heart suddenly modifies plans. So if you want to make sure that the agreed time and place is still valid, it is always a good idea to stay in touch.

Give directions to a taxi driver
If you go touring alone – without a guide or local resident that is – how do you come from A to B if you don’t know how to pronounce the name of the place you are going and/or don’t know the exact location? In this case, just call a Thai friend or the hotel reception and have them give directions to the driver. I can’t count how many times we have entered a taxi, called a Thai friend, and let him or her explain the route to our destination. Works perfectly!

Emergency situations and staying connected with loved ones
Your family and close friends would love to know that they can contact you if they need to. And if you buy a local sim card with data included, you can keep them updated on your whereabouts and doings. If you travel with friends and get lost from each other or want to go separate ways for a while, you can easily keep in touch and meet up again if you stay connected.

Use your smartphone as your toolkit
Having your smartphone with you, enables you to stay updated on local events, translate words, find vegetarian restaurants in the area, convert currencies, and see your position on the map. Your smartphone is an excellent toolkit, and your Thai sim card can conveniently include the data package to make sure your tool kit is working.

Thai Sim Card showing the flag of Thailand





Where to buy your Thai sim card

In the arrival hall in Bangkok airport, you will find booths of the three biggest mobile network operators, AIS 1-2 Call, DTAC (Happy), and True Move. Do not despair if you forget to buy your sim card in the airport. In all cities, you will be able to find a sim card at your nearest convenience store such as Family Mart and 7-Eleven, although the English skills might be lower here than at the airport. They will generally have all kinds of sim card types available – standard, micro, and nano. Just remember that you mobile phone should not be sim-locked.

Which Thai sim card package to buy

If you are enjoying a 2 week vacation in Thailand, the most convenient package to buy is the pre-paid tourist sim card packages offered by each of the three mentioned companies. You can get packages with free data for a week and a little credit to call or send text messages. You can see the current deals by following the above links. You can add extra money to your Thai sim card by buying top-up cards which can be found in almost every convenience store. Note that if these sim cards are inactive for one or two months, they will be inactivated. So you have to buy a new sim card with a new Thai number for your next trip to Thailand.

Another option is to only buy a basic pre-paid Thai sim card without any attached package. In this case you only pay for what you use. Signing up for a monthly/yearly subscription plan is not ideal unless you plan on staying for several months, which is of course not unlikely if you love tropical beaches.

Thai Sim Card photo credits:

Coming up: Which Thai Mobile Phone Company should you use? Wait around for our analysis of which of the Thai telecommunication companies to use when you travel or live in Thailand.