Thailand Frequently Asked Questions

How to buy a mobile phone in Bangok


One of the first things that many expats will want to do after moving to Bangkok is get yourself a mobile phone and the most popular place to buy one is on the 4th floor of the Mahboonkrong (MBK) shopping centre. Inside you will find hundreds of stalls selling thousands of phones from cheap 1000 Baht models to the latest Blackberries and iPhones.

Getting a phone is as simple as choosing a model and negotiating a price, there is no paperwork or contract needed. Once you have your phone the next step is to choose a number and purchase some credits so you can start making phones calls. There are 3 major carriers in Bangkok, AIS, DTAC and True who all offer different types of calling plans depending on if you want a prepaid or post paid calling plan.

The most popular pre-paid credit plan is the AIS One-2-Call package. You can buy One-2-Call top up cards at most 7-11’s and all you do is enter the PIN and your phone in instantly credited and you can start making calls, sending SMS messages or browsing the web.

One word of caution is that while many of the pre-paid phone plans do allow you to access the web over their EDGE or 3G network they charge for the time and not the bandwidth. Some users of the Apple iPhone have reported that since their phones are connected to the net all the time that it can quickly drain the credit they had purchased.

If you are a heavy internet user switching to a post paid plan is probably a better option as many of the plans come with an internet package. The difficulty with getting a post paid plan is that you usually are required to have a work permit or a Thai guarantor but if you are looking to get a post paid plan all 3 major carriers have store outlets in Paragon shopping center.

One particular group of products that are extremely popular is the products from Apple. Within day of a new Apple product being released in the US you can usually find it for sale here in Bangkok, months ahead of the official international launch. Such is the case with the new Apple iPad. Apple recently announced that the international sale of the iPad would be delayed but you can find plenty of grey market ones here.

One word of caution about buying a phone or any Apple product at MBK is that many of the phones have a dodgy history and just because the vendor offers you a guarantee doesn’t mean that they will actually honour it. The phones bought in MBK are good short term phones but for something you want to keep and have work over a long time I would suggest the visiting the official retailer in either Paragon or Central World shopping mall.

So whether you are after the latest offering from Apple or a cheap holiday phone the 4th floor at MBK is a good place to start.

39 responses to “How to buy a mobile phone in Bangok”

  1. if u have a nokia 9500 comunicater new one then u mail me price with the store name………

  2. My iphone is using version 4.1. can it be jailbroken and unlocked there? if so, where and how much. thx

    • If you take it to MBK mall I’m sure someone there could do it for a few hundred Baht. Or you can easily do it yourself depending on which model iPhone you have.

  3. Hey.. M gng to Bangkok next week… Is MBK a good place to buy the factory unlocked iPhone 4 (brand new). How authentic is it. If not. Where should I buy d iPhone 4 from at a very good price. What would b d lowest price I can bargain at ?
    Plz help me out. Have taken a lot of efforts to save up on cash to buy myself an iPhone.

    • Very risky to do that. Only way to do it would be to find a store that takes credits cards and hope that they actually ship the phone to do and also hope that it actually works. Personally I wouldn’t recommend buying anything from MBK unless you can examine it very closely first.

  4. Hi. I am from Bangladesh planning to go to Bangkok next month. Is brand new mobile phones cheaper in Bangkok or is it same priced as anywhere else? If it is cheaper,where can I buy it from?thnks

  5. hi planned to visit bangkok by jan 15th, i plan to buy a new mobile @Mahboonkrong (MBK) shopping centre. Samsung galaxy or Sanmsung ACE it costs me in india 30000 & 14000 respectively. for how much leass i can buy it from MBK, please suggest me..

  6. Please may i know price of IPHONE 4 & samsung note please let me know im coming to bangkok with in 15 days

  7. I need some places to buy phones in Sri Lanka. And also I need there prices with pictures and there facilities. Thanking you.

  8. Hi i am planning to come to bangkok next month, i want to buy a samsung galaxy note, can you please advise the best place to buy and the best price to buy, i would b really greatfull to you.

  9. I am already in Bangkok today. I would like to know the best price of Samsung Galaxy S3 which is newly launched.

  10. hey nxt mnth im cumin 2 bangkok n i want 2 purchase samsung galaxy note cn u tell me how much it cost?

  11. Follow “The Farang Phone Shop” on facebook for best prices. Deal with an Englishman with many years in the mobile phone industry. Shop in MBK

  12. can you tell me another place else of mbk . i’m living in India and going to Bangkok next month. Thanks

  13. hello any one i have glassy s3 smasung new 3 piece any body want to buy pls let me know and send me price his new with complate box nont use

  14. Does the plan include the SIMs? Some websites noted I needed to buy a SIM, then credits for it.. Am I missing a step or is that all part of the plan and number I choose?

  15. Can you make and receive international calls from a phone you purchase at MBK for 1000 baht?

  16. Hi guys I have a short visit to bangkok next month I want to no where can I get cheap Korean version copy mobiles and good quality readymade so please suggest me your good opinion about my requirements so please give some time for me guys and mail me your opinion and one more where can I get cheap hotels to stay

  17. i am from india , going to bangkok on june . just wanting to know will buying a mobile phone from bangkok be cheap or costly than buying here in india.

  18. I have an old AT&T GSM phone in the US that I want to use in Thailand. I used it before when I went to there with my AT&T Plan. Can they unlock the phone there and let me buy a SIM card and use it as a Thai Phone? I know that I will have a new number and I will reach my family from the US on WIFI Face Book or Email off my tablet.

  19. Your best bet is to ask AT&T to unlock it for you. If it’s not on contract anymore they will usually unlock it and you’ll never have to worry about it being locked in future software updates.