For many westerners who have chosen to retire in Thailand, a big worry before they arrive is staying in touch with family and friends back home. Today, Thailand is part of the global village and staying in touch is as easy as a phone call. Thailand has a highly developed communications network which will allow retirees to stay in touch with those back home. In this article we will examine the many telephone options available to the long stayer.
Three companies in Thailand offer traditional fixed-line telephone services. TOT (the state owned, Telephone Organisation of Thailand) and TT&T a major public company both offer traditional fixed line services to homes on a nationwide level to all major population centres. There is a small line rental fee and calls are billed on a monthly basis. Bills can be paid by direct debit but often this can be time consuming to set up and it can take several months. The easiest way to pay monthly phone bills is in cash at one of the major banks or in 7-11 stores. The other company that provides a fixed line service is True, but their service only covers limited areas mainly in Bangkok. In most instances of having a fixed line installed in your home, there is a fair bit of bureaucracy involved and as a result, many foreigners living in Thailand opt solely to use mobile telephones.
The major population centres have very good mobile telephone service networks and most foreigners living in Thailand use one of the two main service providers AIS, True Move or DTAC. All three operators offer very easy to use pay as you go networks. It is as simple as buying a phone and SIM card and topping up on credit as you go. Credit is easily purchased at many outlets including the ubiquitous 7-11 stores.
The mobile phone networks also offer registered accounts allowing for monthly billing. The benefit of these packages is that calls are cheaper and considerable savings can be made for the heavy phone user. The downside is that it is more difficult to set up. Whereas with the pay as you go services, you can be calling home within minutes of buying your phone; if you want a contract you will have to provide a passport, visa and work permit, or in the case of retirees a Certificate of Residence from your local Thai Immigration Office.
Whether you use a fixed line or mobile, calling overseas is easy and generally the call quality is clear. One tip that can save money on overseas calls is to dial 008 or 009 before the international dialing code. This service offers considerably cheaper calls and although sometimes the call quality is not 100%, there are normally no problems. If you do have a problem with quality on the discount lines use the prefix 007 which offers a better line but still at a slight discount than just dialing direct.
These contact details will help you in contacting Thailand’s main telephone providers.
Fixed Telephone Providers
TOT: Call centre: 1100
TT&T: Call centre: 1103
True: Call centre: 02 900 9000
Mobile Telephone Providers
AIS: Call centre: 1175
DTAC: Call centre 1678
True Move: Call centre 1331