Communications

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Communications

Internet

Many hotels and guesthouses now offer Wi-Fi connections, though they can be slow and/or expensive. This is slowly starting to improve, and reliable Wi-Fi connections are becoming more common. Many hotels also have business centers that provide Internet access.

Outside of large hotels and business centers, the electrical supply can be temperamental. Surging and dipping power supplies are normal, and power outages are not unheard-of.

Even the smallest towns have Internet shops, and many have cafés that offer Wi-Fi (with purchase). Shops used to dealing with foreigners often will allow you to connect a laptop. Typical Internet prices in tourist areas range from about B20 to B60 per hour, sometimes more in coffee shops. Larger hotels and resorts usually charge a lot more, so make sure to ask in advance.

Contacts

Cybercafes. Cybercafes lists more than 4,000 Internet cafés worldwide, though it is far from complete. www.cybercafes.com.

Phones

The country code for Thailand is 66. When dialing a Thailand number from abroad, drop the initial 0 from the local area code.

To call Cambodia from overseas, dial the country code (855) and then the area code, omitting the first 0. The code for Phnom Penh is 023; for Siem Reap it's 063. Unfortunately, Cambodia's international lines are sometimes jammed; booking and requesting information through websites is consequently the best option. Almost all Internet shops offer overseas calling, which runs up to 50¢ a minute, depending on the location. Skype and other Internet calling options are often the easiest, cheapest methods for international calls—especially if you're in a place with free Wi-Fi.

To call Laos from overseas, dial the country code (856) and then the area code, omitting the first 0. The outgoing international code is 00, but IDD phones are rare. In cities, Wi-Fi is becoming more readily available and so, too, is the option of Skype.

Calling Within Thailand

There are three major phone companies and at least four cell-phone operators. Payphones are available throughout the country, and they generally work, though long-distance calls can only be made on phones that accept both B1 and B5 coins.

Many hotels and guesthouses use cruddy third-party pay phones, which rarely work well but make extra money for the hotel. Avoid them if you can.

Calling Outside Thailand

The country code for the United States is 1.

To make overseas calls, you can use either your hotel switchboard—Chiang Mai and Bangkok have direct dialing—or the overseas telephone facilities at the central post office and telecommunications building. You'll find one in all towns.

Mobile Phones

If you have a GSM cell phone and your operator allows it, your phone may work in Thailand (but it's best to check with your provider before leaving home). However, the roaming charges can be deadly. Many travelers use their cell phones to send and receive text messages, a cheap way to stay in touch.

Alternatively, if you have a dual-, tri- or quad-band GSM phone (and it has not been locked to one number by your phone company), you can buy a SIM card (the chip that keeps your phone number and account) in Thailand. These are becoming more widely available, and often offered for free on arrival at Thai airports. Pop the SIM card into your phone, and have a local number while visiting. Then buy phone cards (available at all minimarts) in B100 to B500 denominations and pay for calls as you go, generally B3 to B10 a minute depending on the time of day and number you are calling. International calls will run about B5 to B40 a minute.

If your phone will not work in Thailand, you can buy a used phone at any cell phone shop, which are ubiquitous (all malls in Thailand have them). If for some reason you prefer to rent a cell phone, some options are:

Contacts

Cellular Abroad. Cellular Abroad rents and sells GMS phones and sells SIM cards that work in many countries. 800/287–5072. www.cellularabroad.com.

Mobal. Mobal rents mobiles and sells GSM phones (starting at $7 a day) that will operate in 190 countries. Per-call rates vary throughout the world. 888/888–9162. www.mobalrental.com.

Planet Fone. Planet Fone rents cell phones starting at $2.95 a day, or $21 a week. 888/988–4777. www.planetfone.com.

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