One of the first things to do when you arrive in Bangkok is to setup your phone. If you have an unlocked gsm phone, your already on your way. If you don’t have a phone, you can purchase one from a shopping center like MBK, where your choices range from 1,000 baht basic phones to the most recent Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones. However, beware that used phones at MBK may have internal issues are guarantees are unlikely to be honored.
Mobile Service Providers
There are 3 major service providers in Thailand: AIS, TRUE, and DTAC. Kiosks for each company can be found at the airport and at nearly every shopping center. Prices and service quality is similar, but AIS is the most popular choice. Once you select a plan, the representative will activate the SIM card and your phone will get a signal almost immediately.
Pre-paid vs. Post-paid
Pre-paid plans are paid upfront, while post-paid plans are billed and paid at the end of the month. There is generally no price difference between these two options, but post-paid plans require a work permit to prove that you are a long-term resident. Pre-paid plans are quick to set up and if additional phone credit is needed, it can be easily purchased at any 7-eleven convenience store. The benefit of the post-paid plan is that it can be linked to a Thai bank account and paid automatically to avoid trips to 7-eleven.
If basic call service is all you need, you can purchase the SIM card for 99 baht and add 100 baht or so for airtime credit. Calls cost roughly 2 baht per minute. Smartphone users will likely want to purchase a data package to go along with their airtime. Luckily, data prices are very reasonable. Daily and weekly 3g and 4g data plans can be purchased, but a 1.5GB 3g monthly package with 200 baht of airtime costs only 600 baht with AIS (the most expensive provider). Once all the data is used, it reduces down to 2g speed.
Wifi is prevalent in Bangkok and the network providers offer wireless hotspots in all around the city – especially major shopping centers. Many service packages include unlimited wifi at their hotspots by logging in with your telephone number and designated password on your web browser. Although only one user can be logged into the account, any device can log in including laptops. This comes in very handy since coffee shops like Starbucks often charge absurd rates to use their wifi service. True and AIS have hotspots everywhere, so if you stop in a coffee shop, it is very unlikely that you won’t be able to pick up a wifi signal from one of them. Wifi service can be purchased even if you don’t buy a data plan for only 100 baht per month, which is well worth the price!
For additional details, feel free to check out the service providers sites directly…