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Thailand forum

SIM card for Thailand and Southeast Asia?

Posted by TheNewGuy8 on 28/9/2010 at 01:51

I'm trying to figure out what makes most sense:

I have an iphone that I can bring with me to Thailand. I'll be in Thailand for a month and then travelling around SE asia for another 6 weeks - vietnam/cambodia/indonesia is the plan at the moment but who knows.

Is it worth getting a Thai sim card for being able to call the states? Is that quite expensive with thai sim cards? Can someone from the states call my phone if i have a thai sim card in my phone? Does that cost my account?

If it *is* worth getting one - is there a SIM card that will work across most of SE Asia? Or are they mostly Thailand specific? If the latter, what is the best card to get if I'll be around Chiang Mai primarily?

Thanks all

#1 TheNewGuy8 has been a member since 8/9/2010. Posts: 35

Posted by sirhalberd on 28/9/2010 at 08:53

You could leave your iphone home and purchase a cheap Nokia in Thailand and just change sim cards for the countries you visit if necessary. Normal US cell phones do not work in Asia. If you bring the iphone to Asia I think you would have to get it unlocked.

I have a cheap Nokia for Thailand and it works good enough for me. There are lots of cheap internet shops in Asia. You can even send short emails to some cell phones at a local rate but you have to set this up ahead of time. I send emails to my brother in the US all the time and all he has is a cell phone. You might consider Skype for communication back home to save money.

Good luck.

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Posted by idreamofdurian on 28/9/2010 at 16:03 TF writer

You can buy a prepaid SIM card in pretty much every SE Asian country. They're cheap (from $3 USD in Thailand to $15 USD in Singapore) and international calling can be quite affordable too (especially if you are using the cheap IDD function -- you dial a few numbers before the country code and rates are only a few cents per minute).

You can set up a prepaid SIM card to work outside its country of origin ("activate roaming"), but this is roaming so rates will be much, much higher. As such, people usually switch SIM cards when entering a different country.

Of course people from the USA or elsewhere can call you on a Thai SIM card. They just need to dial the country code for Thailand then your number. Whether it costs you to receive a phone call depends on the SIM card you get -- some have free incoming calls, some do not.

I've bought a SIM card in Thailand at least 5 times and, from my experience, they're all pretty much the same. The last one I bought was with "True" ( and I remember the international IDD rates being really good (I was calling Canada regularly).

Hope this helps.

#3 idreamofdurian has been a member since 5/9/2008. Location: Singapore. Posts: 576
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Posted by svendj on 28/9/2010 at 16:05

It's good to have a local sim. I have a Dtac sim card, local calls cost me 1 THB per minute and to call back home I almost pay the same as doing a local call back in Europe.
Sending a text to Europe only costs me 5 or 6 THB, cheap as hell.
Emailing to a cell could be a good option as well as mentioned above.

There's no sim you can use in every country, just buy a knew one if you are crossing the border. though if you're only going to be in vietnam, laos or cambodia just for a week or 2 it's not worth buying one (but it remains relatively cheap).

I use 'Tigo' in Laos and Mphone in Cambodia, don't know the Vietnamese any more, lost 2 sim's over there and was to lazy to buy another one.

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Posted by TheNewGuy8 on 28/9/2010 at 22:44

Thanks everyone, that is all super helpful.

I have an unlocked iphone, so I'll just keep it there. Do yuo know how much Data costs?

#5 TheNewGuy8 has been a member since 8/9/2010. Posts: 35

Posted by n8sand on 12/1/2012 at 23:40

If you do bring your IPhone, be careful. I actually just returned to Thailand from the US. With me, I brought a brand new IPod 3G. I took the phone to MBK to have it unlocked (so it could use a Thai SIM) for 500B and the phone ended up getting "bricked," or frozen, or un-useable, or worthless. I was and am sad. I cannot use the phone now.

I do know of others, however, that have had no problem unlocking their phones.

My advice would be to just buy a 500B phone with a 100B SIM card. You'll be all set for cheap.

#6 n8sand has been a member since 18/12/2010. Location: United States. Posts: 13
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Posted by Phiddy on 14/1/2012 at 13:45

Hey guys just a quick one, I have an (unlocked) iPhone that I plan on bringing with me, I will probably buy a cheap phone and local sim cards (mainly because I hate the idea of taking the sim out of the iPhone and losing it). Main reason I'm bringing the iPhone is for music and internet, when you use wifi on your iPhone are there any charges such as roaming? Or is it completely free in the same way as using a laptop would be? I would be turning roaming off (does this mean I won't be able to access wifi?) I'm from the UK by the way and on O2. I apologise for my idiocy!

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Posted by Phiddy on 14/1/2012 at 17:45

Sorted - rang my phone company and they said its free woohoo

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Posted by kapilpaul on 24/1/2012 at 02:08

Can anyone tell me what documents we have to submit inorder to get a local sim card in Singapore or Bangkok.?

#9 kapilpaul has been a member since 17/1/2012. Posts: 9
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Posted by tyler on 24/1/2012 at 10:39

@ kapilpaul

You don't need documents. All you need is a phone and a few dollars. Easy.

#10 tyler has been a member since 7/12/2010. Location: Canada. Posts: 257
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Posted by kapilpaul on 25/1/2012 at 02:17

thx tyler.

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Posted by screamin on 18/2/2012 at 06:28

Last time I was in Thailand , December 2011 they were handing out free sims at the airport True Move Sim , very easy to recharge at 7/11 stores and came with heaps of info on data deals and dialling codes.

Indonesia - Bali, I used an Indosat sim . They are around 10,000rp to buy out of the tourist areas . Around Kuta they sell them for 50,000rp but will help in setting the phone up and help with recharging it. I got good reception all over Bali with local calls and calls back home to Australia . It also comes with unlimited facebook which is a plus to keep in contact with family and friends.

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Posted by time2fly on 19/2/2012 at 22:01

If you are back before April let me know how it worked out..
I will have an unlocked Iphone 3G that I am bringing. I want a sim mostly for texting back to Canada!!!


#13 time2fly has been a member since 18/1/2012. Location: Canada. Posts: 112
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