Thailand Phone Number Formats
In Thailand the main telecommunication lines and infrastructure was installed by the Telephone Organisation of Thailand. Geographically STD codes are generally fitted within provincial borders and usually adopt a two digit prefix (except Bangkok). For example, Bangkok (02), Pattaya (038), Hua Hin (032) etc. In the main areas Bangkok, Nontaburi, Pathum Thani and Samui Prakan numbers were made up of six digits until 1980, when due to higher demand this was extended to seven digits. As an example, a typical Bangkok number would be 02-223-2546, and other provincial areas would look like this - 032-345345.
Up until 2021 it was possible to call a number without the STD if you were located in the same provincial area. However, in 2021 this changed to mean that even if you are in the same province, you must still dial the STD code prior to the main number. Anyone calling Thailand from outside of Thailand must first dial 66 then the number including STD, but drop the first (0). So, for example, calling 02-223-2546 in Bangkok would look like +66 (0)2-223-2546.
The rapid surge over recent years has seen three main mobile suppliers in the market, those suppliers being AIS, TRUE and DTAC. When mobile phone networks were originally established each number was made up of six digits, again however, with the surge in users, each number is now made up of seven digits. The first three digits are established dependent on the supplier code, then the following seven digits are assigned - so a typical number for AIS would read as 089-456-6789.
Mobile Phone numbers currently start with 06, 08 or 09 with other prefixes indicating regional landline numbers.
The rapid increase in the number of mobile units across Thailand has meant a huge reduction in land line usage and registration since around 2016. This is largely due to the flexibility of current smartphones and their ability to go online, web browsing, emails, social media and phone calls via certain apps.
The mobile network in Thailand predominantly uses 900/1800 MHz for GSM and there is still free roaming service within certain areas with certain providers dependent on contract. Obtaining a number for either local Thai or foreigner is relatively easy. You can get registered for a contract with proof of identification, visa type and proof of address. Other options would be to go on a pay-as-you-go deal. The per minute usage is slightly higher, but due to its flexibility is still very popular.
All three suppliers are actively expanding their customer base and to that end it is worth shopping around to try for the best deal, although they are so closely matched it’s difficult to differentiate.
The Thai market is predominantly prepaid with 84.8 million prepaid subscribers. More than 99 percent of the market share belongs to three large operators (including their subsidiaries): Advanced Info Service (AIS) 46.52 percent market share, DTAC 28.50 percent market share, and True 24.26 percent.
For tourists looking to obtain a mobile contract or PAYG SIM whilst in Thailand, there are several options. Each of the networks has representation at the main airports where you can walk up to the counter, tell the staff your holiday plans and they will be happy to sort you out with a package which will suit your needs. Again, the requirements are the production of proof of identification.
To help the general population and tourists with commonly called numbers, larger companies and organisations have introduced “short codes” - these are typically 4 digit numbers for popular services / suppliers. For example, 1112 Pizza Company, 1193 Highway Police, 1691 Ambulance Service and 1711 McDonalds.
Looking to the future, the networks recently released the 090 numbers, which will again be followed by seven digit numbers. As can be seen, the impact of mobile devices is continuing to increase with no slowing in sight.