I have been travelling to Thailand on and off for than 15 years and now I have been staying in Thailand for the past few years. Over the years, I’ve used all major mobile network and carrier in Thailand which is AIS, DTAC and TrueMove.
For my friends and family who are coming to Thailand, I would usually recommend TrueMove to them as they are usually the cheapest and the coverage is satisfactory. Unless if you are travelling to mountaneous region, then you may want to consider using AIS.
Get your package upon arrival at the airport
After you exit the customs at both Survanabhumi and Don Meung airports in Bangkok, there would be counters of different mobile carriers. I would recommend it that you purchase your mobile carrier plan at these counters located in the airport rather than purchasing it later at a shopping mall outlet or at 7 Eleven. Note: 7 Eleven only offers TrueMove SIM and top up.
Don’t worry that you are being overcharged in the airport. From experience, the mobile package offered in airport are usually competitive and you would not be overcharged.
Reasons why you would want to buy your mobile data in the airport:
1. You can compare and choose the best package from all the major mobile carriers
In Survanabhumi airport, all the 3 mobile carriers have their counters after you exit the customs. However, in Don Meaung airport, if the mobile carrier counter is closed, you can walk further down (direction of gate 6) and you would see shops that sells stationery as well as prepaid mobile phone packages.
2. The staff can speak and read English
At the airport, the staff would be able to communicate with you in English hence you can get your queries answered and the assistance that you need.
If you go into the carrier outlet or 7 Eleven store, you should have someone with you who can speak Thai as you may run into communication problem.
3. They will set up everything for you
This includes changing the SIM in your phone and also the language settings of the carrier. This is to ensure when the carrier sends sms, it would be in English rather than the default Thai language.
Usually when you replace the SIM card with the mobile carrier SIM card, only your normal voice calls and sms are affected, ie you would not be able to receive them unless your phone supports dual SIM. However communication via apps such as Whatapps, Line, WeChat would follow back your original number that you have been using.
What the mobile data covers
For the past few years, the packages offered usually involve unlimited internet for certain number of days, ie 7 days, 14 days or 1 month. Package type would be PREPAID, ie pay before using. For example, my brother came over to visit earlier this month and he brought a prepaid mobile data package from TrueMove for 7 days. The package covers unlimited mobile data and cost 219 baht.
If your mobile phone settings permits, you can also turn on the hotspot your device to function as a Wifi to link to your laptop or iPad. At my place, I use Wifi for my laptop. But sometimes when the Wifi is not available, I would do a hotspot and link to my laptop. However if you are doing heavy duty stuff such as video editing on your laptop, I would suggest that you purchase a separate Wifi package for your laptop.
You would need to provide your passport for sighting when purchasing the mobile data plan. The staff will make a photocopy of your passport as the mobile plan needs to be registered under a valid name.
Getting spam sms and calls
Do undertand that all the mobile numbers offered are based on numbers that have been recycled for the upteenth time. As such, you may find yourself getting a number of sms in Thai language which you have no idea about or calls from telemarketeers from unknown companies.
Usually, the calls would not be from the mobile carrier company as they would know your number is registered for short term use.
You would not need to respond to these messages or calls unless you are expecting a call from someone.
Exception of not getting a mobile plan in Thailand
Friends of mine who are businesspersons or constantly work on receiving normal voice calls that can be urgent…..they would not get a Thai mobile line when visiting Thailand unless they are using dual SIM. But often, I noticed they would just inform their mobile network company back in their country and subscribe to the package that they are offering.
If you are doing that, you would need to check the charge related to normal voice calls as it may be omitted from the mobile international travel package. If it is omitted, you would be paying high roaming call charges for every normal voice call that you receive and make.
Hopefully the above information helps as this is written based on my experience as well my friends and family who visit Thailand. The packages offered have came a long way and so are the mobile coverage.