Plan to visit Thailand soon? Staying connected is key if you want to have a rewarding and convenient trip! Prepaid Thailand SIM cards with data plan helps you stay connected and in touch with loved ones and share your adventures with ease. Wondering if you should get one? We’ll cover best Thailand SIM card types, costs, best plans and where to buy in this guide.

Best Thailand SIM cards

I. Should You Get a SIM Card in Thailand?

Yes, definitely. 

Regarding staying connected in Thailand for tourists, you have several options to choose from: roaming, free WiFi, pocket WiFi, and SIM/eSIM card. 

Each has its own pros and cons. Among them, the most common are free WiFi, SIM card and roaming.

The most prominent reasons why getting a SIM card for Thailand instead of other options are about reliability, accessibility, and cost. 

While you can take advantage of free WiFi in many hotels and cafes, it may not always be reliable or easily accessible. Free WiFi tends to be popular in big cities. So, if you plan on traveling outside of major cities, you may not have access to Wi-Fi at all. Having a local SIM card will ensure that you have internet access wherever you go, making it easier to navigate, communicate, and stay connected.

Besides, if you use your home country’s SIM card while in Thailand, you will incur high fees for calls, texts, and data usage. By using a Thailand SIM card, you will save money on high international roaming charges.

To sum up, some prominent benefits of a Thailand SIM card for tourists:

  • Stay connected wherever you go
  • Save money on international roaming charges
  • Access to affordable data plans
  • Local phone number for easier communication with locals and businesses (varied by plan)
  • Save more money in case you do not want to make calls and texts (if you use data-only plans)
  • No need to switch between different SIM cards while still maintaining your contacts in one device.

Important Note:

  • To use cell phone for Thailand, make sure that your device is unlocked (to receive signals of Thai mobile networks)
  • Most tourists to Thailand on short trips often use data-only Thailand SIM to stay connected. They can navigate the map, browse the web and make calls/texts via apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.
  • In Thailand, there is a limit of five active SIM cards per mobile operator per person.

II. Types of Thailand SIM Card for Tourists

Types of Thailand SIM cards for tourists

Based on form, there are primarily 02 types of Thailand SIM options for tourists: physical prepaid Thailand SIM card and prepaid eSIM for Thailand. 

1. Physical prepaid SIM card for Thailand (mini SIM, micro SIM, nano SIM)

Physical prepaid Thailand SIM cards for tourists comes into 02 main variations (plan types): 

  • data-only plans: this type of plan DOES NOT OFFER PHONE NUMBER for tourists to make dialog calls and texts. It is for those primarily needing internet access to navigate the map, browse the web, contact family and friends via apps like Whatsapp, Telegram,…
  • Data + voice and text plans: This type of plan HAS PHONE NUMBER. It is for those who want to use data to browse the Internet and make dialog phone calls and texts.

2. Prepaid eSIM Thailand (Virtual SIM)

eSIM is a virtual SIM card embedded with supported services in the main board of a mobile device. No need to insert or remove a physical SIM card when changing plans or carriers. Prepaid Thailand eSIM is online 100% and functions like the traditional one. 

To activate an eSIM, users typically scan a QR code or use an activation link provided by their network carrier. 

Similar to physical SIM’s, eSIM Thailand plans for tourists also come into 2 main categories: data only and data + voice and text. 

To help you have a better understanding, thereby easily making decision about which type of Thailand SIM to choose, we make a comparison table below:

Prepaid Thailand SIM Prepaid eSIM for Thailand
Pros– Affordable price
– Variety of plans for different needs / budgets
– Need to buy or wait for SIM delivery before use
– Main SIM might get lost when removed
– One phone uses only one SIM, need to remove to use another (if the phone has only one SIM slot)
Cons– Buy online, no need to go to SIM card store anymore
– Available at anytime, anywhere
– Just scan QR code, no more SIM card swapping
– Use two SIMs simultaneously
– Allow to install multiple eSIM plans on the same phone, but only 1-2 plans being activated at a certain time (depending on the phone model). The number of eSIM plans depends on the phone’s memory. Often up to 20 eSIMs / phone. 
– No risk of SIM lossPrimary SIM remains intact on the device
– Just eSIM-support devices can work with eSIM
– Phone needs to be unlocked to use eSIM

Our recommendation: 

As a tourist to Thailand, which type of SIM should you choose? 

  • Choose PREPAID DATA SIM CARD if your phone does not support eSIM + you only need to navigate the map, browse the Internet and make calls / texts by apps during the trip.
  • Choose PREPAID DATA eSIM if your phone is compatible with virtual/digital SIM. This is considered the best way to get the internet on the phone when traveling to Thailand in 2023.

Pro Tip:

  • Many Thailand eSIM packages available online do not come with calls and texts. Just a few providers offer packages with this feature. So, if you want to make calls and text messages, make sure your package includes it (we will recommend the best plans below).
  • Even when the eSIM provider claims that their plans offer unlimited data, check carefully because in fact, there is just a certain amount of data equipped with high speed data. After this amount runs out, the speed will be capped to a lower level.

III. Best Thailand SIM Card Packages for Tourists and Price

Good to know: As of Jan 2024: $1 USD = 36.3 THB or 100 THB = $2.75 USD

There are 03 main mobile network operators in Thailand that offer SIM card plans for tourists to Thailand: 

  • AIS, 
  • Truemove H
  • DTAC (merging with TrueMove H). 

They have SIM card plans made for tourists, with different prices and deals. We will introduce some best tourist SIM plans for Thailand below. But keep in mind that details like package name or features might change, so use this as a reference only. 

Important Note: Starting from March 2023, TrueMove H and DTAC Thailand have merged to form a single entity called True Corp. However, they are required to function as separate companies for a minimum of three years. This means that for the time being, you will still find dedicated TrueMove H and Dtac Thailand stores, stalls, booths, and SIM cards available.

Here’s a breakdown of each type of SIM card:

1. Best Thai AIS SIM Card Plans and Price

AIS Thailand offers a range of packages and offers to cater to different usage preferences. They have data plans, combo plans, and special packs such as social media packs. These packages provide different allowances for data, voice calls, and SMS. But in this article, we give some noticeable SIM card packages of data for tourists to help you have an overview about what AIS offer: 

PriceDataValidityActivation code
39 THB3 GB8 days*777*7102#
59 THB5 GB8 days*777*7104#
90 THB10 GB8 days*777*7106#
150 THB20 GB8 days*777*7442#

Note that: these packages are not allowed to 5G access.

AIS Thailand sim card packages for tourists
AIS Thailand sim card packages for tourists (source: AIS)

2. Best Thai TrueMove H SIM Card Plans and Price

TrueMove H is a popular mobile operator in Thailand that offers various plans and packages for prepaid SIM cards. They basically have 3 data-featured prepaid plans which are data, unlimited data, and 5G speed data packages. Here we just introduce their full speed extra data packages (แพ็กเสริม เน็ตเต็มสปีด):

DataValidityPriceActivation Code
100 MB1 day9 THB*900*3301#
200 MB1 day15 THB*900*3306#
400 MB1 day17 THB*900*1923#
600 MB1 day19 THB*900*8149#
1 GB1 day29 THB*900*8997#
1.5 GB1 day35 THB*900*8150#
1 GB7 days39 THB*900*1767#
3 GB1 day45 THB*900*8151#
1.5 GB2 days49 THB*900*8383#
3 GB1 day49 THB*900*8304#
1.5 GB3 days55 THB*900*8152#
3 GB2 days69 THB*900*8384#
4 GB1 day69 THB*900*8382#
3 GB3 days75 THB*900*8153#
1.5 GB7 days79 THB*900*8155#
5 GB3 days95 THB*900*8154#
4 GB7 days99 THB*900*8156#
1 GB15 days99 THB*900*8925#
5 GB7 days99 THB*900*1937#
8 GB7 days149 THB*900*8311#
1 GB15 days150 THB*900*8903#
15 GB7 days150 THB*900*3756#
2 GB30 days199 THB*900*8157#
1.5 GB30 days199 THB*900*8982#
10 GB15 days199 THB*900*8301#
15 GB15 days249 THB*900*8302#
2 GB30 days250 THB*900*3325#
6 GB30 days299 THB*900*8158#
12 GB30 days499 THB*900*8159#
TrueMove H full speed extra data packages
TrueMove H full speed extra data packages (source: TrueMove H)

Note: These packages allow 5G NR access.

3. DTAC Thailand (Total Access Communication)

DTAC Thailand has many SIM card plans for tourists. In most cases, you will pay from 29 THB to 99 THB for a DTAC SIM card that includes starter perks such as data, credit, minutes and/or SMS.

Here we just introduce the tourist offering of DTAC called DTAC Happy Tourist SIM cards: 

CreditDataSocial Data (for Facebook Messenger, Line, Kao, WeChat, WhatsApp)On-Net MinutesValidityPrice
15 THB1 GBUnlimitedUnlimited1 day49 THB
15 THB15 GBUnlimitedUnlimited15 days299 THB (eSIM available)
15 THB50 GBUnlimitedUnlimited10 days349 THB
15 THB30 GBUnlimitedUnlimited15 days599 THB (eSIM available)
DTAC happy tourist sim plans
DTAC Happy Tourist SIM plans (source: DTAC)

Our recommendation:

 Among three operators, only AIS and DTAC (which merged TrueMove H) offer packages including both data and voice. AIS has the best coverage while DTAC’s weak 5G coverage is a downside. But, only DTAC has true unlimited data plan while AIS’s are thresholded at 384kbps. Therefore, when traveling in Thailand, you can choose either AIS or DTAC. Consider your budgets and network priorities.

Extra Tip: Though you can totally use a physical SIM Card offered by AIS or DTAC, consider using an eSIM (also use networks of these operators) if your phone is supported with eSIM technology for convenience. We will explain further below.

IV. Where to Buy a Tourist SIM Card for Thailand?

Now that you know which SIM card packages are available and their costs, let’s discuss where you can purchase Thailand tourist SIM:

1. Buy prepaid Thailand eSIM card online before traveling

You can order prepaid eSIM card packages for Thailand online from websites like Gigago, ThailandeSIM.com before your trip.

After paying online, you will receive the activation code via email or SMS which you can redeem on your eSIM supported smartphone.

Chances are, you can get a travel eSIM for Thailand travel, which may be cheaper than getting a SIM card from the network carrier directly.

Especially, if you buy a  regional eSIM (like Asia 8 countries eSIM) or a global esIM (visiting multiple continents), the price may be better. 

Pros: Very convenient as you don’t need to look for SIM stores or wait for SIM delivery. Super easy to install, and you can activate it from home. Start using data as soon as you land. Comes with good data packages. 

Cons: Your phone must support eSIM. You cannot change packages while traveling.

2. Buy physical Thailand SIM at Thai airports

You can purchase prepaid SIM cards from counters of main mobile operators like True, AIS, DTAC at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi (BKK), Phuket airport (HKT), Samui airport (USM), Chiang Rai International Airport (CEI), and other major airports. They are usually located near the baggage claim area. To buy a SIM card, you need to show your passport.

In the past, SIM Cards sold at airports were often overpriced. However, from 2023 onwards, the SIM cards price at the airport is similar to the official listing price. 

Tourists must register SIM cards at the point of sale (not self-register anymore). 

Pros: Allow to activate SIM right away. Convenient if arriving late at night when stores may be closed.

Cons: Limited package choices.

SIM card stores at Thailand airports

3. Buy physical Thailand SIM online

Order prepaid SIM packages from official websites of mobile network operators or other prestigious websites to get it delivered at your home before the trip or pick it up at the airport.

Just SIMply plug and play SIM once you land without much hassle.

Pros: Arrive prepared with data. No need to hunt for SIM stores.

Cons: Expensive for short trips. Cannot change packages while traveling.

4. Buy physical Thailand SIM in the cities

Purchase from official retail stores of True, AIS, DTAC located throughout Thailand. Major malls and shopping areas have these stores. You can also buy from convenience stores(7-Eleven, 108 Shop, Big C, FamilyMart, Lawson 108 & Tesco Lotus).

Pros: Wide choices of data packages. Best rates. Can get assistance in stores.

Cons: Require passport copy for registration. Limited English assistance outside big cities.

Our recommendation: Here are some advice on choosing where to buy Thailand SIM for tourists:

  • If prioritizing immediate use and convenience: Buying at the airport might be suitable, despite higher prices and limited package choices.
  • For preparedness and flexibility: Purchasing online beforehand ensures readiness on arrival, although it might be costlier for shorter trips.
  • For cost-conscious travelers with time flexibility: Buying in cities offers the best rates and diverse plans but requires a store visit and registration with a passport copy.
  • For convenience, preparedness, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness: buying eSIM may help you save your time on queuing in line, waiting for delivery and avoid the hassle of switching SIM cards.

V. How to Get A SIM Card In Thailand – Registration Process

If you want to buy a prepaid SIM card in Thailand as a tourist in Thailand, you need to go through a registration process. Here are what to prepare to buy a prepaid tourist SIM card for Thailand:

  • Passport: You are required to provide a copy of your valid passport for registration purposes.
  • Phone: Make sure to have the phone you want the SIM card for ready.
  • Identification details: Be prepared to provide your full name, date of birth, nationality and other identification details for registration.
  • 1-2 passport-sized photos: Some sellers may require a recent passport-sized photo of yourself for registration. Have a digital copy ready on your phone.

Why do tourists need to go through this registration process?

It is for verification and compliance purposes. Thailand requires prepaid SIM card users to register with valid identification. This helps reduce misuse of prepaid mobile connections.

Our recommendation: It is recommended to complete the registration process at an official retail store for smooth assistance. Have all the required documents and details organized ahead of time to avoid delays. Consider registering up to 3 SIM cards on one passport to avoid frequent registrations.

What if you do not want to go through the registration process?

An extra tip is to check if your phone is eSIM compatible. You can purchase a prepaid eSIM for Thailand online before your trip and avoid the registration process altogether by using the eSIM straight away in Thailand. Some eSIM providers offer better value plans than physical SIM cards too.

VI. Thailand eSIM – Best Alternative to Getting Internet in Thailand for Tourists

Travelers visiting Thailand have various options to get internet access such as roaming with their home network, renting pocket WiFi devices, using free WiFi, or purchasing a prepaid physical SIM card. While each of these have their benefits, getting a prepaid eSIM from a provider like Gigago has several advantages making it the best alternative.

Some advantages of getting a prepaid Thailand eSIM over other options include:

  • No hassle of purchasing and activating a physical SIM card. eSIM can be purchased online before the trip and activated instantly upon arrival.
  • Flexibility of using the same eSIM number across multiple devices without needing physical SIM swaps.
  • Speed and coverage of major Thailand networks like AIS and DTAC without limitations that come with pocket WiFi hotspots or free public WiFi.
  • Avoiding high roaming costs while still retaining your home number through internet calling apps.
  • Ability to choose data-only plans or bundled data with call credits suitable for both short and long trips.

Gigago offers various flexible eSIM plans that provide both data connectivity as well as call credits, not commonly found with many other eSIM providers. For Thailand, Gigago offers multiple data plan options, starting from an 8-day plan with 15GB of data for $8.90 as their most minimal plan. They also have 8-day unlimited data, 10-day 50GB, 15-day unlimited data, and 30-day unlimited data plans ranging from 15GB to unlimited data, with prices from $8.90 up to $34.90.

To see more details about plan features and installation guide, check Gigago Thailand eSIM.

Overall, a prepaid eSIM is a very convenient option for travelers visiting Thailand wanting fast, affordable cellular data access without the hassle of a physical SIM. Gigago offers competitive plans at good rates.

VII. Best Thailand Mobile Networks for Tourists – Which to Choose?

Which Thailand network operators is the best for tourists

There are 03 major mobile network operators in Thailand: AIS, True Move H, and DTAC. All three operators offer tourist SIM card plans that are affordable and provide data, minutes, SMS for tourists to use during their stay.

Here is a summary table comparing the three operators:

OperatorCoverageSpeedPriceeSIM availability
AISBestSuper FastExpensiveYes
True Move GreatFastAffordableYes
DTACGoodFastCheapYes

See more details about each major Thailand cellular network operator:

1. AIS

According to the reports of nperf.com, AIS has the best coverage across Thailand, reaching even remote areas. It has the fastest network speeds for both 4G and 5G. However, it is also the most expensive operator. AIS offers various tourist SIM card plans starting from 49 THB that provide data and call/sms benefits. It also allows purchasing eSIM plans online.

AIS Thailand coverage map - best Thailand sim cards
AIS Thailand coverage map (source: nperf)

2. DTAC

DTAC has the second-best coverage in Thailand. While its speeds are fast, it is not as fast as AIS. However, it is the cheapest operator. DTAC also offers the famous Happy Tourist SIM Card package. The tourist SIM cards of tourists are available from 25 THB with starter data and call benefits. eSIM is supported.

DTAC Thailand coverage map - best thailand sim cards
DTAC Thailand coverage map (source: nperf)

3. True Move H

True Move has great coverage and fast speeds. It is more affordable than AIS. True Move H tourist SIM cards start from 49 THB as well and provide data and call/sms bundles. eSIM is also available.

TrueMove H Thailand coverage map - best Thailand sim cards
TrueMove H Thailand coverage map (source: nperf)

► Our recommendation:

Again, we summarize some highlights about each operator to help you make better decision on which cellular network operator to choose when visiting Thailand:

  • For best coverage and speeds AIS would be recommended despite the higher price offers great value for money.
  • DTAC provides the cheapest plans, coverage and speeds are slightly less than the other two. All three operators are good options for tourists on a budget.

VIII. Do you get calls and texts on your Thailand SIM card plan?

Yes. While many Thailand SIM/eSIM providers have packages including calls and texts, you should verify the specifics of the offer before making a purchase.

Most Thailand SIM card packages available at the airport offer a good amount of calls and texts.

In Thailand, calls typically charge around 1 Baht per minute, while texting usually costs about 2 Baht per SMS.

► Our recommendation: Gigago also includes calls and texts with a local number in most of their eSIM packages.

IX. How to Use Thailand prepaid SIM Cards and eSIM

1. Using prepaid Thailand tourist SIM Cards

Once you have purchased a Thailand SIM card, follow these steps to use it:

  • Turn off your phone and take out your existing SIM card – remember to put your old SIM card somewhere safe!
  • Insert the Thailand SIM card into the correct slot.
  • Turn your phone on and wait for it to connect to the network.
  • If needed, set up the APN settings given by the SIM card provider.
  • You’re all set! Now you can make calls, send texts, and use the internet with the Thailand SIM card.

2. Setting up and activating Thailand eSIM 

To use an eSIM in the Thailand, follow these steps:

  • Check eSIM compatibility: Make sure your phone supports eSIM and is unlocked
  • Activation: Access your phone’s eSIM settings and either scan the provided QR code or enter the activation code. Follow the steps to download and activate the eSIM profile
  • Enjoy connectivity: Once activated, switch between different eSIM profiles in your device settings for smooth connectivity.

X. FAQs about Thailand travel SIM Card

Can tourists buy SIM cards in Thailand?

Yes. Tourists to Thailand can buy SIM cards online before departure, or at the airport upon arrival, or at convenience stores or mobile network operators’ shops across Thai cities. in the cities of Thailand from many convenience stores or Thai mobile network operators’ stores. If buying after arriving, remember to bring your passport.

Which SIM card is best for travelers in Thailand?

For travelers in Thailand, the top choice is either a prepaid Thailand SIM card loaded with data, and possibly voice/text, or an eSIM. Choose DTAC or AIS network operators to enjoy excellent coverage, diverse options, and high-speed connections.

Can I buy a SIM card at Thailand airport?

Yes, all three main cellular network companies in Thailand have counters at the international Thai airports. They are easy to find, often near the baggage claim spots. Just remember to bring your passport when you make a purchase.

How long is a tourist SIM valid in Thailand?

Tourist SIM cards in Thailand usually last for 5, 7, 15, or 30 days, matching typical travel durations. Some can be prolonged by buying more credit or data, but others expire after the validity period. If you need longer, you might need a new SIM that is good for longer stays. Just know, the validity varies by plan, so choose one that fits your trip.

Should I get eSIM or physical SIM Thailand?

If you are visiting Thailand for tourism, a data eSIM comes highly recommended. It lets you keep your own number for important calls and use apps like Whatsapp, Telegram, and Viber to stay in touch with family and friends.

XI. Conclusion

In conclusion, getting a SIM card in Thailand is highly recommended for tourists. It will not only save you money on international roaming charges but also provide you with reliable internet access wherever you go. The three main mobile network operators in Thailand offer various packages at affordable prices, making it easy for travelers to stay connected. You can purchase a SIM card at the airport, online, or in the cities, depending on your preference and convenience. So, make sure to get a SIM card for your next trip to Thailand and stay connected with ease.