True Move mobile telephone company in Thailand gives away free SIM cards for tourists arriving into Thailand. I have seen these free SIM cards being given away at the visa on arrival counter at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and recently at the Phuket International Airport in the baggage claim area. The True Move counter in the arrival area of Suvarnabhumi Airport also has free SIM cards along with the paid SIM cards they sell for 50 and 299 THB respectively. Their 299 THB Tourist SIM is also an exceptional value product. Yet nothing beats free. I recently picked up a free True Move SIM in Phuket. Using it initially was a bit of a hassle though but later it worked out OK. I am writing this article to let my fellow travellers know that this “free SIM” can sometimes prove costlier than a paid SIM card. Here is how I learnt the truth…
The guy at the True Move Counter at Phuket International Airport happily gave me the free SIM after taking a picture of my passport on his mobile phone. He also gave me a slip printed in Thai language that I was supposed to use at any 7-Eleven store to add balance to my free SIM before using it. He just said, go to the 7-Eleven outside. I did the recharge at a 7-Eleven in Patong. The recharge was successful according to the 7-Eleven staff but I did not get any message. The balance enquiry code also returned an error message in Thai language. Finally when I tried calling their helpline, I got a message in English that I was supposed to visit their company shop to activate the free SIM. That was a problem. They were asking me to go from Patong to their shop in Phuket town.
I did some search online using my hotel’s WiFi and learnt that True Move had a shop in the Central Festival Mall on the way from Patong to Phuket Town. Now going to Central Festival Mall was not a total loss situation as it could have been if the company shop was elsewhere in town. I would have wasted both money and time. But it was a necessity because by then I had sunk additional money doing that recharge.
Fortunately, travelling from Patong to Central Festival Mall is easy using a “Phuket Bus” that costs 30 THB per person and stops right in front of the shopping mall. Its a beautiful and busy shopping mall and worth a visit anyway. The True Move shop is at the second level.
[Update: Later I have found True Move, DTAC, and AIS mobile shops in the Jungceylon Mall in Patong. As such there is no need to travel to Phuket town for this purpose anymore] Continue reading…
Activation and Cost of the Data Plan
I had to wait in the shop for about ten minutes before I got called to one of the counters there. The guy at the counter took another copy of my passport, activated my SIM and then showed me that my recharge balance had been added to the account. It was a relief. Then came the good news. I was about to save a good amount of money on the data plan that I wanted.
The Advertised True Move Data Plans
The information leaflet in the free SIM package showed the following unlimited data packs:
200 THB for 1GB valid for 7 days
350 THB for 1.5GB valid for 15 days
650 THB for 3GB valid for 30 days
The meaning of unlimited here is that up to the data limits specified above, the data speed will be 3G but after the data limit is reached, internet will still work within the plan period at 2G speed. I was going to stay in Thailand for 14 days and that was the reason I had not purchased the 299 THB Tourist SIM that comes with unlimited data for 7 days only. At the True Move shop, I was ready to purchase the 350 THB pack with 1.5GB data valid for 15 days.
The Good News
The guy at the shop told me about some data promotions that were current at that time and said that I could buy a 200 THB data pack that would come with unlimited data valid for 30 days out of which 1GB would work at 3G speed. These promotions are valid for limited periods from time to time and are thus not printed in the leaflets kept in the SIM packages. 1GB for 30 days would be good enough for me because all my hotels in Thailand had promised free WiFi. I opted for that plan and still had some balance left for calling India at 3 THB per minute. True Move’s data speed was good in all the cities I went to – Phuket, Krabi, Pattaya, and Bangkok.
The Possible Loss Scenario
Visiting the True Move shop had saved me 150 THB and given me this useful information that one can get better deals on data and maybe also on talk plans by visiting mobile company shops in Thailand. It could, however, be a problem for someone to locate or visit a True Move or another mobile company’s shop in Thailand so one needs to be cautious while picking up this so called ‘free SIM’. To be safe, when someone hands you a free SIM, ask them if you will need to visit their shop to activate the SIM. Do not recharge the SIM before activation. If you are aware of a company shop close to the place where you are going to stay, then a free SIM of that company could be a nice bargain.