Internet, Wifi and making calls in Bangkok, Thailand – Where to buy a local SIM ?

high speed wi fi

Internet Access in Bangkok and Thailand

Internet access is good in Bangkok (also in the rest of Thailand).
Wifi is available in most cafés, restaurants, malls and hotels and also the Internet speed is OK. There are several cellular companies operating in Thailand and they also give you good Wireless Internet access.
To get Internet in Thailand you have basically 3 options :

1. With a Wi-Fi (or cable) Connection :

Your hotel, restaurant or café may provide you with a Wi-Fi connection (or a cable connection). Most of the times the wifi is free if you consume a drink or you stay at the hotel, other times the business asks for a special fee.

2. With a Local Sim of one of the cell phone Networks

sim cardIf Internet access is important for you and you want to be independent from the wifi networks in cafés and hotels, buy a local SIM from one of the local cellphone (cellular) networks and make a pre-paid Internet subscription, like that you can get internet even under a coconut tree on an island.

3. With the Sim Card of your country

This is usually not going to be the cheapest option. The cellular network of your country will charge you high for phoning or using internet from abroad and it is difficult to beat the prices of Thailand, but you can never know. If you are not sure about the prices that your operator will charge you, buy a local SIM for your stay in Thailand.

Who are the cellular operators in Thailand ?

The 3 big Thai cellular companies are:  trueaisdtac
They all have an English version of website, some websites are clearer than others. All companies have a store at the 4 floor of Siam Paragon mall, in center Bangkok. All companies have a store at the airport.

true coffee bangkok

Where to buy a local Thai SIM and where to charge pre-paid credit?

You have several options :

  1. At the cellular operators selling points. This is the preferred choice because you get full assistance. All the cellular companies have offices at the big malls around Siam, especially at Siam Paragon mall.
  2. At the 7 Eleven grocery stores. They are open 24 hours a day, and they sell SIM cards and you can fill credit in your pre-paid account. The vendor is doing it for you.
  3. At the airport, but there is always a queue of people and prices are sometimes slightly higher.
  4. You can fill credit by yourself via your phone or their website with a credit card. I wouldn’t do it without experience.

Note : A SIM card is sometimes distributed free at the hotels or at the airport. If not, the price of the SIM card is symbolic, after all the cellular operators want you to use their networks.

How much does it Cost to use Internet in Thailand ?

Prices in Thailand are lower than in Europe and so are the Internet services. With time, Internet is getting faster and cheaper all over the world so expect changes all the time.
Example of cellular Prices In 2024 :

  • At the airport , a pre paid Package of Internet for 1 month, of 60 GigaBytes : around  800 Baht. In town center, you can have it at half price. See the next chapter for an explanation. See also a general explanation about the packages.
  • Price of using a computer in an Internet café : around 40 Baht.
  • Price of using wifi in a café or hotel : usually free.

Getting your SIM at the Airport vs in Bangkok Town Center

It is convenient to get your SIM at the airport, because you get immediate internet access and can navigate to your hotel with the public transports. The cellular companies know it is convenient and they propose to the tourists a “Tourist SIM” which is more expensive than the regular pre paid SIMS that local people use. The tourist SIM is usually limited in the amount of GB and in the time validity.
An alternative is to get your SIM at Siam Paragon mall, in the town center (skytrain station Siam). All cellular companies have an office at the 4 floor of Siam Paragon mall. Note : You may need to insist a little bit in order to receive the regular SIM, because also here they will first propose you a “Tourist SIM”. In any case, you need to show your passport in order to receive a SIM in Thailand.
My advice : If your visit to Thailand is for less than a month, save time and get your SIM at the airport.

How to subscribe to a pre-paid Internet program  ?

It is the same all over the world :

  1. First you need to “Top up” (fill, charge) money into your account that is associated with the SIM. Do charge with the same amount of the price of the pre-paid plan that you are going to subscribe to.
  2. Buy a pre-paid plan. You do this by dialing a specific number from your smartphone. Each pre-paid plan has a different number. In order to know the available Internet plans (and the number to dial) you should ask the staff or consult the website (not always good in english).

Note : It is best (easier) if both operations will be executed by the person from which you buy the SIM. He knows how to do it.

The Wifi Networks of the cellular companies

A big bonus you get when you buy a subscription of Internet with one of the cellular companies, is that they let you use their wifi networks in town.
The company true (and the other ones) have their own high speed wifi networks in the big malls in town, in cafés, at the airport and many other locations. You just connect to their wifi with a password that you receive. It is free during the time that your subscription is valid. By using their wifi networks you don’t spend your GigaBytes of your subscription. Cool.

true coffee bangkok

How is the Internet speed in Thailand ?

Pretty good now. See this worldwide connection speed comparison.
If speed is important for you, use the free wifi networks of the cellular companies. Also the cellular Internet itself is pretty fast, as long as you are within your Data usage (see explanation).
Wifi speed in cafés and hotels varies from place to place.
Some Internet speed numbers in Bangkok 2024 :

  • Speed from cellular companies : Can reach 100 Mbps.
  • Speed of wifi networks of the cellular companies : Can reach 200 Mbps.
  • Speed of wifi in cafés at the Khaosan area : Can be slow, if the hostel tries to save on the provider.

ais internet bangkok

Phoning from Thailand

Lets assume that you have your own phoning device like a Smartphone (you are human, right ?).
Two options :

1. Via an Internet connection :

If you are connected to the Internet, you can make phone calls with a software like Skype. A software like Skype lets you make free phone calls in case your destination has also skype or you can call to regular phones and mobiles for very low rates.

2. Via traditional cellular voice with a cellular company :

You can buy a local SIM from one of the Thai cellular operators with the  pre-paid option as default. Then, fill credit inside your account, and you can make international phone calls for very good rates.
For example with true company, you can do the prefix 006 and your country code and your number. Here you can see true tariff for each country.
You can also use a SIM card from your country and call with it internationally but in most cases it will be more expensive than with a Thai SIM.

Understanding the Pre-Paid packages of the cellular companies

They play with 3 factors:

  1. The total amount of data that you can get (the more you use Internet, the more you consume data)
  2. The speed that you will get the data (How fast the Internet pages will be displayed on your device)
  3. For how long (days, hours) you will be entitled to get internet.

The amount of Data : The cellular companies charge you by amount of data used. If you are viewing a simple page on a website, you use a small amount of data. If you are viewing a youtube video, you use a big amount of data, so you should restrain yourself from high consuming datas if you are connected via a cellular company, otherwise it will get expensive (or move to a wifi connection).
The Speed : As long as you are within your Data allowed in your package, you get it at the maximum speed that the company can deliver, and it is pretty fast. When you have finished your Data, they don’t cut you, but they deliver the internet at a very low speed, one that may be enough to view a simple Internet page but not to make, comfortably, a voice call with Skype.
The Time : When you buy a pre-paid package, it fixes the amount of Data you can use and the total length of time that you can use it.
For example, lets say you have bought a package including 6 GigaBytes of Data and valid  for 1 month. If one month has passed and you have used only 5 Gigas, you have lost 1 Giga.
On the other hand, if you have finished your 6 Gigas in just 1 week, you have 3 weeks left of Internet at low speed.

Note 1:  Some companies cut you out completely if you have consumed your Gigas (no low speed, nothing).
Note 2: If your package is finished and you have credit (money) in your pre-paid account, you may still use Internet but they can charge you by minute. Beware of that option, it may be very expensive. Protect yourself from this by disabling the Data Transfer on your smartphone.
Note 3: Don’t get confused :
Megabits per second (Mbps) and Kilobits per second (Kbps) is about speed
Megabytes (MB) and Gigabytes are an amount of data.

dtac bangkok

If you need Cellular Internet on your Laptop or Tablet – Tethering

Your laptop can receive wifi, but unlike your smartphone, it usually cannot get cellular reception. Thankfully it is possible (and very easy) to transfer the internet of your smartphone towards your laptop, it is called Tethering.
tetheringYou can do it with a cable or wireless (wifi). The speed you get is like the one you get on your smartphone. Wireless is the easier option because with a cable you may miss a driver.
Here are the general steps:
1. Make sure you receive internet on your smartphone.
2. It depends on your smartphone, if it is an Apple or Android and which version, but generally you should go to the “settings” and search for a menu with a name like “tethering” or “hotspot” or “transfer of data”.
3. You will find an option to make it wireless or with a cable. It is easier wireless. If you choose the cable option, then the one you use to charge your smartphone may be fine.
4. You will also find a menu in which you can see the wifi password (and change it if you want), you will need that password in order to connect your laptop to this wifi network.

aircardAnother option to get cellular Internet on your laptop is with an Aircard, but I don’t see why you would do that, if you have a smartphone.
An Aircard is a small device (looks like a thick USB key) that can gets internet from a cellular company (wireless), it is connected to the laptop via a USB socket. Inside the Aircard, you should put the SIM of the cellular company you want to use. You can buy an Aircard from one of the cellular companies or on the free market (but then make sure it can work with any SIM and not just a certain cellular company).

What to check on your phone if you can’t get Internet

As I already said, the best is to get human assistance when you put a new local SIM. In case you prefer to do it all alone, make sure that :

  1. If you are using your SIM card abroad (roaming), make sure the roaming option is switched on, in the configuration.
  2. You should have a valid pre-paid or post-pay subscription with a cellular company, the same company of the SIM you inserted into your smartphone. If you are using the SIM of your country make sure it includes International use. If it is a pre-paid plan, check that your have credit (with the special number the company provides for that). Make sure the plan includes also Internet (usually it does).
  3. Make sure the “allow cell phone data receiving” is enabled on your smartphone (this is different than wifi reception). You should find it in the “settings” menu of your smartphone.
  4. Make sure your smartphone is not in a “flight mode” (the mode that cuts all communications).

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