Tropical Islands, Vibrant Nightlife, Amazing Culture Travel Thailand Welcome to the Land of Smiles

Thailand Travel FAQ | Phone | Mobile Phone | Internet Access

▶ Prepaid Phone SIM Cards

▶ True Move | Dtac - A prepaid Thailand SIM card with an international cell phone is the most convenient and economical solution for staying in touch with family and friends while on vacation in Thailand. All incoming calls while in Thailand are FREE, regardless of where they originate. Pay the local rate for local calls and use a cellular phone in Thailand like you do at home. And unlike home, your Thailand SIM card and cell phone service is prepaid so there is no need for a contract. Overseas phone calls are very cheap and you do not pay the inflatable rates of hotels etc..Top ups may be made at any 7/11 stores. The minimum is THB 50.00 - there is no maximum. Credits are good for up to 1 year - please inquire. You can simply buy a phone number from your preferred phone company such as True Move or Dtac OR you may choose to buy a more easy to remember phone number out of stock at MBK or at Pantip Plaze. These prestige numbers - for example: 88883344 or similar - may cost you up to THB 10.000 !!

▶ Prepaid Phone Additional Information

Thailand may well be good value for money - entertainment, eating and other things are exceptionally good value when compared to other many countries. One thing however which is reasonably expensive compared to Singapore or Hong Kong for example, is telecommunications. On this page we continue our reviews of using mobile telephones while travelling around Asia, in this article we look at using mobile telephones whilst in Bangkok, Thailand.

If you do not already own a mobile telephone then there are mobiles for rent at Bangkok International Airport - Suvarnabhumi. They are not cheap and to be honest it would be much better if you have your own as you will be required to pay a deposit of around 20,000 THB for the phone and 5,000 THB deposit for call usage. Then each day of rental will cost you around 250 Baht per day if under 14 days or around 150 Baht per day for more than 15 days. Then you need to pay for the calls, which on average are around 6 Baht per minute for a local call, compared to around 3 Baht per minute if you buy a pre paid SIM card in Bangkok. Such phones can be rented from the arrivals hall of Terminal the airport and need to be returned to the same place.

Mobile phones can be bought all over Bangkok and it is difficult to advise one shop over another as they all sell the phones at very similar rates. MBK does have a wide selection of small phone shops and main dealers too, but so does most malls and shopping centres. If you prefer to pay with a credit card then all the major shopping centres such as Siam Paragon, Central World, Central Chidlom etc have sell electronics such as phones, tvs, dvd players etc. Most manufacturers - htc, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Apple, Samsung etc - also have many of their own direct outlets. Thus, most of you, will already have a mobile telephone so all you need to be able to do is make local calls without it costing you an arm and a leg, and to be able to offer your local customers or friends the ability to contact you on a local number while you run around Bangkok doing business or having fun.

As in other countries the easiest way to do this is to buy a pre-paid SIM card which saves you paying for roaming charges and means your local friends or customers do not have to call long distance to reach you on your mobile. There are many providers in Thailand of pre-paid SIM cards but we recommend True (previously Orange) as it is one of the very few that offer you the ability to retain your number if the card is lost or stolen. With other networks, if your card is lost then basically tough, they will not even disconnect your old number so that whoever has "found" your mobile phone cannot use your number and SIM card. With True Move (Orange) when you purchase the SIM card, and we suggest you do this by going directly to a True shop rather than one of the many small mobile phone shops around Bangkok, then tell them that you want to have the SIM card protected by your passport number.

If you do this, True Move will take down your details and add it to their computer system so that if the mobile telephone is lost, you can simply call True and inform them by giving your passport details for authorisation and they will deactivate the phone (SIM Card) immediately. Plus you will get to keep any remaining value on the card. True Move (Orange) shops are available all around Bangkok so just ask your hotel concierge for the closest. The cost of the pre paid SIM card from True (Orange) start from 99 Baht and top up cards are available in many sizes from 90 Baht to 300 Baht, 500 Baht and the maximum 1,000 Baht. These top up cards can be bought from anywhere (including 7/11) and the instruction to top up are in English and Thai and could not be easier. The pre paid SIM card is valid for a 30 day period (very low compared to Singapore or Hong Kong which offers 6 months) so if you want to keep the same number for each time you visit Thailand then make sure you purchase enough top up cards. To make this easier you need to know that each value of top up card comes with a different life span. If you purchase a 300 Baht top up it will be valid 30 days from top up, a 500 Baht top up for 50 days and a 1,000 Baht top up for 365 days.
 

▶ Internet Access

True Move | Dtac - under construction

When people first arrive in Thailand, many need or want to connect to the internet immediately. High speed (broadband) internet is available almost everywhere, including fairly populous places in the outer provinces. The most common methods are:

  • Go to any of the Internet cafes all over Bangkok and all around the provinces, and either use their computers or else use your portable computer with their wireless WiFi connection or their ethernet cable. They charge by the minute or the hour, anywhere between 20 THB per hour in Thai suburban areas to 100+ THB per hour in central business district shopping malls and tourist areas. Usually it's somewhere in-between. Many hotels, pubs, restaurants, cafes and other places offer free WiFi hotspots, though high end hotels often charge for it, at steep prices. I've picked up my email in taxis during red lights in some places from just picking up WiFi signals around.
  • Buy a WiFi roaming account at shopping malls and other WiFi areas where you can connect to "KSC Hotspot" or "CyberLink", and buy an account. For example, KSC Hotspot gives unlimited service for 500 THB per month. Many hotels have CyberLink where you pay per hour but can use at any CyberLink outlet in Thailand. (To get an account with True or TOT, you must have a True or TOT phone line first.)
  • As a last resort, if you are staying in a property without internet set up yet and don't want to go out, then you can use a phone line to connect to your portable computer's modem. Buy a 56K dial-up credit with one of the many local ISPs. These little cards are on sale at bookstores, some convenience stores, and IT shopping malls. You pay a few hundred baht for the card (maybe $10) and you get a phone number, username and password. The charges are usually less than 10 baut (25 cents) per hour. Alternatively, if you are renting a place, or otherwise have permission, you can use your phone company's dial-up link, and the internet bill will go onto your phone bill. Unfortunately, I have found these to be surprisingly poor in quality - slow, with stalls, and some things don't work. The cost is higher than a prepay 56K dialup to the local ISP. You need to know the phone number to dial and the standard username and password, which are somewhere on the phone company websites (sorry) but it's easier to just call support and ask.

From True Corp. (formerly Telecom Asia), as do friends in the adjacent condos, and it flies. Up to 4 mbps is available here, but a friend has the 1.5 mbps (1500 Kbps) unlimited package for individuals (condo) for 1500 baht ($38) and actually gets 1 mbps throughput internationally normally. Muang Thong Thani is in a technology corridor (e.g., Software Park, Jasmine International, KSC's headquarters, others) so we're probably in one of the faster parts of town.

Likewise, in my outer suburb of Pathum Thani, I have DSL at home with True and it is fast, as it has been since 2001. The population density out here is low, but the neighborhoods are upper crust and there are good universities and high tech centers around.

Then again, I signed up for True WiFi on my home line, whereby around town I just find a True WiFi hotspot and I can use my username and password to log in and link to the internet. I get True connections in the shopping malls I go to, and they are fast and reliable. I got TOT WiFi via my Asoke office and it works in a particular mall but sometimes dies whereby I must log out and log in and hope. True WiFi in many malls during busy days like Sundays won't give you an IP address, but their username and password works with KSC Hotspot which usually works.

My relatives in another province have ADSL by the provincial telephone service provider, TT&T, and it is surprisingly good for such a somewhat remote place without anyone else or any major business around. Other people have reported likewise.

Besides speed, I also have problems sending out email using MS Outlook using TOT and my US based server. It works fine from every True connection, whether at home, my office in Muang Thong Thani, or any mall with True WiFi. But at my Asoke office using TOT, and the TOT WiFi connection, I can send mail out only thru my Thailand server, not my US server, using MS Outlook. If I switch to Mozilla Thunderbird, however, it works on every connection, i.e., Thunderbird fixes the problem with TOT and my US server. (My US and Thailand servers are mirrors of each other and the exact same software and setup.)

Besides the monthly fee, there may be a one-time setup fee. In the early years, they would offer to bring a DSL modem to your premises and set it up for you, but now it just comes in a box with instructions. If you prefer, you can switch to your own equipment, such as WiFi instead of their ethernet modem.

Other factors in choosing a broadband service provider include the quality of their support, whether their access phone numbers get busy, the speed and reliability of their network, and how impressive their marketing material looks (I'm joking about the latter).

There are many broadband vendors in various parts of town, and because the prices and specials change frequently and sometimes dramatically, I don't maintain a table for comparison, and you'll have to inquire directly. It also depends on what part of town you are in. Some offer only cable modems. A few have only ISDN. Most offer DSL, most commonly ADSL (Asynchronous DSL, since most people download much more than they upload).

Your decision may actually be a simple one: It depends on what phone company installed your telephone line.

Generally, the Telephone Organization of Thailand (TOT) and True Corporation (formerly "TA", Telecom Asia) handle the domestic physical lines in the Bangkok region, the Communications Authority of Thailand (CAT) the international link, and the various internet service providers (ISPs) sell the packages to end users and bill you in order to arrange your True or TOT broadband line and administratively bill and service you. Outside Bangkok, Thailand Telephone & Telegraph (TT&T) may be your broadband interface, or TOT. The trunk lines reach all around Thailand, though if you live in the boonies, you may be too far away from a trunk and may need to go wireless (see the section on GPRS).

True lists speeds up to 5M (megabits per second). However, when they offered 4M, it usually was not available in the particular area of my customers, and speeds of around 2.5M were typically the maximum. The speed is for your domestic Thailand connection, not thru the shared international link, the latter of which varies during the day. You never get anywhere near maximum speed internationally.

With both, there are no startup fees, but the contract is typically 1 year and there is a penalty for early cutoff. You get a free DSL modem, normally just a cheap brand name modem with ethernet connection. If you want WiFi then you must buy your own WiFi modem.

Notably, if you plan to abusively start downloading movies on the internet every day and night, then you should read the fine print. There is usually a clause in the agreement that the ISP reserves the right to discontinue the service and renegotiate the terms of the agreement. Some have a statement which points out that excess bandwidth usage can be a basis for renegotiation of terms, or discontinuation. They give good prices and service, but they expect you to be reasonable in return

Tuesday, October 15, 2019