Keeping in touch in Thailand
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Expats moving to Thailand won’t have a problem keeping in touch with family and friends back home, as the standard of the country’s communication infrastructure is generally good. Most communication services are high-quality and are available at affordable prices. Some amenities may be limited to larger cities however.
Internet in Thailand
For most expats having reliable internet is a priority. Whether it’s for work or as a means to keep in touch with family and friends back in their home country, internet connectivity is a necessity for expats. There are many internet service providers in Thailand, especially in big cities like Bangkok.
For expats intending to stay in Thailand long-term, it makes sense to get a local sim card to stay connected on the go and a WiFi router for connection at home.
WiFi hotspots are regularly available in most malls, restaurants and hotels. Free connections in public places should generally be avoided to prevent issues such as hacking or data theft. Free WiFi connections from restaurants and hotels are usually safe, but the connection speeds do vary.
There are four major internet service providers in Thailand, True, AIS, 3BB, and TOT. The speed of connection is highly determined by the package and service provider chosen. Fibre broadband internet connections are often only available in large cities such as Bangkok.
Both wired and wireless internet connections are available, although, for wired internet connection options it is a necessity to lease a home telephone line.
Mobile phones in Thailand
In recent years it has become more difficult for expats in Thailand to buy a sim card. In most cases, expats will be required to present their passport to get a registered sim card.
Mobile providers in Thailand
True Move, DTAC and AIS are three of the major mobile providers in Thailand. Every shopping mall in the larger cities has mobile internet shops, but expats may need to consult Google maps to find stores if they are living in a more rural town. The data plans at these companies will generally be explained in English and will be activated in the store.
Landline telephones in Thailand
The country calling code is +66.
To get a fixed-line installed, choose a reputable company. Foreigners who wish to connect a new line must visit one of the providers’ offices. TOT and TT&T provide English-speaking customer service.
Expats will usually have to provide their passport, a valid visa and a copy of their work permit or Certificate of Residence, translated into Thai, to get connected.
A letter from the landlord and a copy of the House Registration Document is also usually required. It is therefore often easier to ask the landlord to arrange a telephone connection. The monthly payment can be made either at a local convenience store such as 7Eleven, through the landlord, or via internet banking or an ATM transfer.
Censorship in Thailand
The Thai government has placed blocks on certain obscene internet content and there is also substantial political censorship in Thailand. Several bloggers and online users have been arrested for voicing anti-government or anti-royal sentiments. The Thai government spends over a million baht per day on digital surveillance.
Postal services in Thailand
The Thai postal system is efficient and reliable. The general office hours are between 8am and 4.30pm during weekdays. Parcels and letters are usually sent on the same day. Thailand has over 3,000 post offices across the country but rural areas are not serviced as well as urban areas.
The Thai postal service is relatively slow. Domestic mail can take up to a week to arrive. Expats, especially those living in urban centres, can make use of courier services such as DHL to speed up the process and ensure a secure delivery.
Staff at Thai post offices don’t always speak English well. Therefore, it may help to have a Thai friend assist with translation if the request is particularly urgent. With communication difficulties throughout Thailand in general, Thai staff may try to ‘save face’ in public to avoid confrontation and agree to a request even if they do not understand it.
English-language media in Thailand
Thailand has a well-developed media sector, yet the Thai government and the military remain firmly in control of radio and TV broadcasts. For accurate and independent news it may be useful to consult an international news outlet.
There are several English medium publications in Thailand, such as the Bangkok Post, which maintains a conservative editorial tone, and The Nation, which is a solely digital newspaper.