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Travel eSIM for Thailand in 2023 : 3 providers Tested [+ Discounts]

Speeds, Networks, Features, Coverage, Setup, etc : discover our eSIM reviews of DTAC, Nomad, Airhub

Published: Aug 21, 2023

thailand esim plans

If you're gearing up for a 2023 trip to Thailand, ensuring you're always connected is probably at the top of your to-do list. Whether it's for navigating unfamiliar terrains, updating your social media, or staying in touch with family and friends, a dependable internet connection is a must-have.

As you go on vacation to Thailand, and set aside hotel WIFI and pocket WIFI, here are basically your options for uninterrupted cellular connectivity (smartphone) :

  1. Roaming with your existing phone line (which can be quite expensive - expect to spend around $10 per MB),

  2. Opting for a prepaid SIM card, which you can get either before your journey or upon arrival,

  3. Going for a prepaid eSIM, provided your phone supports it.

Why a prepaid eSIM for Thailand ?

This article focuses on the third option: prepaid eSIM plans that work in Thailand.

The use of an eSIM is gaining popularity among travelers due to their convenience and cost-effectiveness. They eliminate the hassle of handling physical SIM cards and you basically can order and download your digital SIM card (or eSIM - embedded SIM) before or after you land. This is - much more flexible !

You can purchase and install an eSIM plan directly on your phone, either before your departure or upon arrival using Airport WIFI. For some devices (take the US version of iPhone 14), you don't even have a choice anymore, as they are eSIM only : eSIM also offers another game-changing advantage for travelers, especially when it comes to managing phone lines and data usage.

One of the standout features is the ability to have dual SIMs or even dual eSIMs on a single device

  • with Dual SIM, travelers keep their primary phone line active for receiving SMS messages, which are usually free to receive, even when they're abroad, and turn off data roaming to avoid exorbitant roaming fees.

  • then, when it comes to accessing the internet (for things like web browsing, WhatsApp, or YouTube) a second data-specific eSIM can be added: travelers can purchase a local or travel-friendly data plan, providing a cost-effective way to stay online through the secondary line. I

Let's delve into the top five eSIM plans for Thailand, based on the most recent product and pricing data.

AIS, DTAC, TrueMove H : what Thai network is best ?

All Thailand boasts a robust mobile network environment with three primary providers: AIS, DTAC, and TrueMove H. Here's a snapshot of their performance as per the latest Opensignal report on Thailand.

AIS - Best Network in Thailand

  • Speed Metrics: AIS is the lead in speed metrics, both for general usage and 5G. It consistently wins awards for 5G Download Speed, 5G Upload Speed, and Download Speed Experience. AIS's 5G Download Speed is recorded at 156.4 Mbps, which is 55.8% faster than TrueMove H.

  • Gaming and Voice App Experience: AIS has retained its titles for the 5G Games Experience and 5G Voice App Experience, marking its dominance for the second consecutive time.

  • Consistent Quality: AIS has achieved an Excellent Consistent Quality score of 62.9%, showing a 2% improvement from the last report.

DTAC - Second Best Network

  • Consistent Quality: DTAC has maintained its Core Consistent Quality with a score of 87.1%, which is its only outright victory in this report.

  • Availability: All three providers, including DTAC, share the Availability award.

TrueMove H

  • Video Experience: TrueMove H stands out for its Video Experience, scoring 42.1 out of 100 and leading DTAC by 1.1 points.

  • 5G Availability and Reach: TrueMove H shares awards for 5G Availability and 5G Reach with AIS.

Ideally, eSIMs that can roam with AIS is the best choice, but DTAC is great too.

Our review of 3 prepaid eSIM providers for Thailand

Thailand's mobile data for travel is really affordable. In Thailand, expect to pay prices that range from $0.5 per GB to $2 per GB, depending on the package capacity you purchase.

During our trip (in Bangkok and Samui), we were luck to review plans from the following providers : DTAC, Nomad, Airhub.

Overview

In a nutshell, here is what an overview of the plans we tested in Thailand.

Feature/Provider

DTAC Happy Tourist

Nomad

Airhub

Data Allowance

15GB

20GB

15GB

Price

$9.80

$34.00

$9.70

Validity

8 days

30 days

30 days

Network

DTAC

AIS

AIS

Phone Number

Yes (Thai)

No

No

Top-up Option

No

Yes

No

Setup Ease

Moderate (QR code only)

Easy (Multiple options)

Moderate (QR code only)

Speed

7.15MBs down, 5.8MBs up

33.6MBs down, 43.8MBs up

32MBs down & up

Latency

Low

High (Hong Kong routing)

High (Hong Kong routing)

Extra Features

Free calls within DTAC, 15 Baht credit, Free chat app data

Data only

Data only

Pros

Best value, Low latency, Extra features

Best network, High speed, Easy setup

Good balance of price and validity, High speed

Cons

QR code only for setup, Shorter validity

High price, High latency

Hidden fees, High latency, QR code only for setup

The best value: DTAC Happy Tourist

eSIM2Fly, an eSIM reseller based in Thailand, has a "7 Days - 15GB" plan tailored for travelers in Thailand. The distributor sells DTAC's "Tourism eSIM" plan for $9.80.

Data

15 GB

Validity7 day(s)

🇹🇭 Thailand

Data only

Network(s) : DTAC (4G, LTE)

Special Offer : $1 OFF
eSIM2Flylogo

DTAC Happy Tourist

eSIM2Fly

$8.80

$9.80

$0.59/GB
Learn more ›

Plan features :

  • Data & speeds : 15GB at the highest speed (5G). This is roughly equivalent to 180 hours of browsing or 15 hours of streaming. Unlimited 2G data at 384 kbps after the high-speed data is exhausted.

  • Duration: 8 days from the day of activation.

  • Network: Quite obviously, utilizes the DTAC network.

  • Coverage: Exclusive to Thailand.

  • Calls & texts : Comes with a Thai phone number - Free calls within the DTAC network / 15 Baht of calling credit included / Free chat app data usage

  • Dedicated help center available at 1678.

Purchase & setup process :

The purchase process for the DTAC Tourist eSIM plan via eSIM2Fly was notably seamless.

However, a slight hiccup was the delivery method of the eSIM QR code: it was only provided as a QR code, which poses a challenge if you have just one device; scanning the code directly from the same device isn't feasible.

Since you have to scan a QR code to setup your plan on your mobile device, we recommend you buy and setup your eSIM when you have access to two devices (one to scan, one to display the QR code) right before your trip.

This could be a point of improvement for eSIM2Fly. Nevertheless, we managed to buy the plan before landing in Thailand using our flight's Wi-Fi + laptop to display the QR code, and the rest of the setup experience was smooth and hassle-free.

the eSIM QR code for DTAC by eSIM2FLY_screenshot

With eSIM2FLY, we only received the eSIM QR code, but not the manual setup information for when QR scanning is not possible.

Overall, it remained a smooth transaction with just this minor inconvenience.

Use, network, speeds :

After setting up our eSIM, we were just left with using and testing it.

We installed it as a secondary eSIM, with our first eSIM being our main phone line (with roaming off) and DTAC's eSIM being used for mobile data.

As soon as we activated our eSIM, we received a not less than 11 welcome and greeting messages in Thai and English(yes, with relevant information included), that informed us about our phone number, free phone calls and text features we would get, how much "fast data" we would get (15GB, then unlimited "slow data") and great bonuses: free messaging app data use for 8 days, and country-wide access to DTAC's free WIFI.

dtac welcome sms esim plan_screenshot

DTAC informed us of our plan's features through multiple SMS

When it comes to speeds, we felt our bandwidth was a bit slow, eventhough we were in Download Bangkok, with 4G network.

dtac-test-speed-esim-bangkok_screenshot

With our speed test with DTAC, we reached 7.15MBs download and 5.8MBs upload speeds, through a 4G network.

ip-address-bangkok-dtac_screenshot

Our IP address was located in Bangkok, which was great : very low latency.

Conclusion

DTAC's plan are of great value : for 10 bucks, we were able to secure 15GB of mobile data that work with a Thai phone number, and got a ton of extra cool benefits.

Nomad: the best local network (AIS)

Nomad, an eSIM provider based in Singapore, offers a "30 Days - 20GB" plan for Thailand.

Data

20 GB

Validity30 day(s)

🇹🇭 Thailand

Data only

Special Offer : $1 OFF
Nomadlogo

Thailand 20 GB

Nomad

$29.00

$30.00

$1.45/GB
Learn more ›

Key details :

  • Data: 20 GB, or roughly 200 hours of browsing or 20 hours of streaming.

  • Price: $34.00, which means around $1.7 per GB before any discounts.

  • Validity: 30 days from the activation date.

  • Network: Users will be on the AIS network in Thailand : the best network in Thailand.

  • This plan is solely for data and doesn't come with a phone number. If you run out of data, you can top-up via the Nomad app or purchase a new eSIM.

Purchase & setup process :

As usual with Nomad, the setup process was really easy and seamless.

Whether through Nomad's website or their mobile app, your can purchase your eSIM very easily in just a few seconds.

nomad purchase process for esim thailand is smooth_screenshot

Nomad's purchase path is very smooth and straightforward. Everything is well designed - and using Apple Pay - it does not take more than a few seconds to order an eSIM on Nomad's website.

When it comes to setting up the eSIM, Nomad offers several options on iOS : QR code Scan, Adding the eSIM details manually, or direct eSIM installation, when the Nomad app is installed on your device.

For this test, we used decided to enter our eSIM's details manually.

esim details manual nomad esim thailand_screenshot

Manual details for a Nomad eSIM are very clearly laid out and can be easily copy pasted in Android or iOS's eSIM setup interfaces.

Note that since Nomad is not a local Thai provider, we had to turn on data roaming on our Nomad eSIM.

Use, network, speeds :

Same as with our first DTAC test, we installed Nomad's eSIM as our secondary "data only" eSIM (so, dual eSIM setup). Our main line was against kept on with data roaming off.

After setting up our eSIM, we did a quick speed test to see how great the plan works :)

In the middle of Bangkok we connected to the AIS network and were able to get 33,6MBs download and 43,8MBs upload speeds (speeds clearly higher than what we had with DTAC).

One key drawback that was expected, since Nomad is a MVNO, our ping was not as good as with DTAC's local plan - roughly 4 times higher, and our internet traffic (therefore IP address location) was in Hong Kong.

nomad thailand traffic was routed through hong kong_screenshot

Our internet traffic was routed 1700kms away, resulting in a higher latency. Could be worse, could be better.

Airhub: good network options (AIS / DTAC),clunky experience

After testing Nomad, we tried one of Airhub's eSIM products for Thailand, that has the ability to roam on the AIS network.

Data

15 GB

Validity30 day(s)

🇹🇭 Thailand

Data only

Network(s) : DTAC ()

Special Offer : 3% OFF
Airhublogo

Thailand 15GB 30Days

Airhub

$9.70

$10.00

$0.65/GB
Learn more ›

Key details :

  • Data: 15 GB, equivalent to 180 hours of online browsing, 15 hours of video streaming, or 9 hours of video calls. After the 15GB of data has been used, speed is reduced to 128Kbps.

  • Price: $9.70, discounted from $10.00, which equates to approximately $0.65 per GB.

  • Validity: 30 days, starting from the moment the QR code is scanned and the eSIM is installed.

  • Network: Operates on the AIS network in Thailand. 4G only.

  • Other features: This plan is exclusively for data and does not include a phone number.

  • No top-ups offered : a new eSIM needs to be purchased when expired or fully consumed.

Purchase & setup process :

Everything with Airhub's purchase process was rather smooth, but we felt that the following items need to be made more clear :

airhub checkout is clunky and misleading_screenshot
  • The initial announced price is not the total price. During checkout, Airhub also adds extra fees corresponding to credit card payment fees ("I agree to pay the convenience fee according to payment gateway").

  • Airhub offers the ability to differ the activation of our eSIM to a later date, which is great. However, what actually happens is that you get your eSIM delivered at the date you selected !

  • One last item we did not like is that similar to eSIM2FLY's delivery, our eSIM was only delivered as a QR code, meaning we needed a second device to scan the eSIM from.

Use, network, speeds :

When it comes to the networks and speeds with Airhub, we had quite a few surprises.

We uncovered that our plan was actually a plan made by Three Hong Kong, a Hong Kong based provider, and that it came with a phone number !

What a nice surprise.

airhub plan for thailand used three hong kong_screenshot

It seems that to be able to use our number, we had to fill-in a form, though.

three hong kong welcome SMS_screenshot

Welcome SMS #2 received from Three Hong Kong invited us to use VoLTE during a roaming context, as well as to turn on data roaming (since we are roaming from Thailand).

Since Three Kong Kong is based in Hong Kong, we then had to do a we speed & latency tests, which we did :

speed_test-three-thailand_screenshot

As expected, latency was high ! But bandwidth was stable in both download & upload : Roughly 32Mbs, on the AIS network.

As expected, our IP address was in Hong Kong, which explains the higher latency.

internet-routing-hong-kong-three-thailand_screenshot

Conclusion

Travelers heading to Thailand in 2023 have a variety of options for staying connected, but eSIMs are emerging as a convenient and cost-effective solution. Among the eSIM providers reviewed, each has its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

  • DTAC Happy Tourist: Offers the best value for money, providing 15GB of high-speed data for $9.80 with an 8-day validity. The plan also includes a Thai phone number and free calls within the DTAC network. However, the setup process could be improved, as the eSIM is only delivered as a QR code, requiring a second device for setup.

  • Nomad: Utilizes AIS, the best network in Thailand, and offers 20GB of data for $34 with a 30-day validity. The setup process is smooth, but the service routes internet traffic through Hong Kong, resulting in higher latency.

  • Airhub: Also offers 15GB of data but for 30 days at a price of $9.70. The plan operates on the AIS network but is actually provided by Three Hong Kong, which also results in higher latency due to routing through Hong Kong. The purchase process has some hidden fees and the eSIM is only delivered as a QR code.

In summary, if you're looking for the best value and are okay with a slightly more cumbersome setup process, DTAC Happy Tourist is a strong choice. If network quality is your primary concern and you're willing to pay a premium, Nomad's plan on the AIS network is ideal.

Airhub offers a good balance but comes with its own set of drawbacks, such as hidden fees and higher latency. If you wish to browse more eSIM plans for thailand, then esims.io offers much more options to compare.

Airhublogo

Thailand 15GB 5Days

Airhub

$5.33

Airhublogo

Thailand 15GB 8Days

Airhub

$6.06

Airhublogo

Thailand 30GB 30Days

Airhub

$13.58

Airhublogo

Thailand 30GB 12 Days

Airhub

$17.46

eSIM2Flylogo

DTAC Happy Tourist

eSIM2Fly

$8.80

Regardless of your choice, be advised to consider your specific needs, such as data usage, length of stay, and whether a local phone number is required, before making a decision.

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