Traveling to Thailand: Gadgets and You

The tech-savvy traveler goes nowhere without at least a smartphone and a laptop. Throw in an mp3 player and an e-reader, and you’ll be toting quite a bit of technology. No judging; these days it’s not easy to do without. But taking your gadgets across distances worth eight hours of flying or more isn’t like taking the same across the states border. You don’t want to end up with dead batteries once there and no way to recharge, and you certainly don’t want your smartphone to go dumb when you need Google Maps to find that restaurant or that hotel. So here are a few things to keep in mind.

First, a checklist! Bringing your charger and power cables is a given, but if you are coming to Southeast Asia chances are good the pins won’t quite fit into power sockets in Thailand and you should invest in a power adapter or three. Most hotels in Thailand worth their salt will let you borrow one for free, but it’s best to take your own just in case. For good measure, take a few extra batteries too: again, there’s no telling whether you will be stranded in an airport due to delayed flights or other mishaps and despite your best efforts, your smartphone, iPad or iPod Touch might still run out of juice mid-flight (though in the case of iPod Touches and iPads you will be a little hard-pressed to swap batteries, so look into power mats instead or start considering alternative devices).

Next: flight precautions. While the stewards will bother you about shutting down your devices, some airlines aren’t too strict with this (and provide in-flight WiFi to boot). However, if you leave your phone’s radio on–that is, the bit that checks for cellphone towers-the battery will drain to nothing within an hour or two of the plane’s takeoff; nothing sucks down power like a phone looking for a cell tower while being absolutely out of range of any. How do you fix this without turning your phone off? Simple: turn on airplane mode. It will shut down all phone signal and Bluetooth radio, but you will still be able to connect to WiFi (if any is available) and you can still use your smartphone for everything else, whether to e-read or play games to pass the time. To do this, dig around in your settings. Airplane mode should fall under “Wireless network” or a similar heading; this can vary from platform to platform.

Before you touch down at Suvarnabhumi or Chiang Mai International Airport, make sure to Google up your phone’s specs. Nothing complicated! Just try a search with “[your phone’s model] 900 3g” or “[your phone’s model] 850 3g,” as those are the two bands most conveniently available in Thailand. At the time of writing, 3G in Thailand is can be had through the carriers AIS and TrueMove, which have licenses for the 900MHz and 850 MHz bands respectively. Assuming your phone is unlocked and GSM, meaning it has a SIM slot, when you arrive you can slot in an AIS or TrueMove SIM and you’ll be on your merry way. Don’t forget to make sure it’s a 3G SIM and don’t bother with DTac; they are currently offering data at speeds no higher than Edge and what they do offer is not cheaper than their counterpart packages from AIS and TrueMove.

These should get you started on preparing your gadgets for traveling to Thailand. Never make do without your beloved devices again!

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