Thailand’s claim to fame is that it’s the only South East Asian country to retain her sovereignty throughout her 800 year history. This should bode well for nations to develop and become technologically advanced. Certainly there are sections of Bangkok that look quite modern, though once you start travelling away from the cities it fast becomes rural. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to get around Thailand.
Not all free things are good. True, one of the three major mobile operators in Thailand does offer free SIM cards at the airport. This may be an o.k. solution for some, but if you plan to travel anywhere outside of cities, you may find that the signal strength drops rapidly. I bought both an AIS and DTAC SIM card from a shopping center once I got out of the airport in Krabi. The locals claim that AIS has the best coverage overall.
More information about Thailand mobile operators can be found HERE.
I went armed with nine Thai-specific mobile apps during my trip. I subscribed to the 7 day unlimited data plan through AIS for around $2 USD. This allowed me to connect to the internet from my mobile phone with 384kb download speeds.
The Bangkok City Guide by Tripadvisor is useful for getting around the city. Outside of that, the most useful apps for me during my trip was to use Google Translate Offline, and both Google Maps and Tripadvisor.com while connected to the internet.
One special note about Thailand is that Google does not offer offline maps (via the Google Maps application) for this country. A list of practically every other country for which we can download offline maps can be found HERE.
Bangkok City Guide - Tripadvisor
The Bangkok City guide for Tripadvisor has everything you need to get around Bangkok- all offline. With nearly 7,000 places to eat, 500 places to go, and six self guided itineraries, it’ll keep you busy. Just make sure to download the app and updates at a free and fast wifi spot as it is over 108 mb in size.
When using my AIS sim card, I was able to check a number of things conveniently without having to remember or write down any codes. It allows me to check my balance, the internet plan I am currently using, as well as to subscribe to calling plans.
If you happen to need an offline dictionary and have an aversion to using google translate, this one does the trick. It allows you to add favorite words, which is a good way to have some commonly used words already bookmarked for easy look up. Using the Menu to navigate is a bit tricky as you’ll need to wait for it to ‘retrieve’ some additional information in between looking up words.
I was hoping that the map functionality of this app would work well since we do not have Google maps offline in Thailand. Unfortunately, the map is just too slow to redraw and unless you have the patience of a saint, you should really use Google maps with internet. At least one of the other sections does something useful, right? Well, I couldn’t figure out why the developer of the app could not even bother to include translations in Thai. The ‘Informations’ button does provide you with offline Wikitravel sections of Thailand though.
This app looks so promising with it’s colorful metro-style menu. Unfortunately, none of the buttons were clickable.. must be a bug in the latest version I downloaded. Perhaps you’d have better luck with it.
This app purports to list and allow you to book various public transportation options for travelling throughout Thailand, including transport by bus, train, and ferry. This is an ambitious task as there are too many cities and options for it to cover them all. The company behind the app does intend to capture all the ground transport options in Thailand- I hope that the app continues to improve and eventually list and update most of the options. For now, it is not very incomplete.
Thailand’s own popular restaurant guide, listing over 100,000 places. Unfortunately, there are no descriptions or reviews in English. If the developers of the app would allow us to copy the review, we could perhaps paste it into a translator page if we were really curious about a place. The app does not allow for copy/paste. Thus, non-Thai speaking users can only look at the photos. Come on, Wongnai- let the non-Thai people benefit from your foodie community too!
Most of the larger tourist destinations will be mapped out, though you’d best double check coordinates that you plug into google maps from other applications (such as Tripadvisor). You must be connected to the internet to use Google maps for Thailand, as there is no offline map option.
Google does provide offline language pack for Thai. Download it and you’re good to go. Generally, translating English to Thai works well, though when you try it in reverse (Thai to English), the results can be more entertaining than informative.