Calling home in Koh Samui

Chiang-mai-internetSo, you’ve been bumming around Asia for months and haven’t once called your dear old mum back home, shame on you! Those living here soon realise that international phone calls from Thailand aren’t cheap, and if you’re travelling and need to call your home country, it pays to know where to call cheaply from.

Luckily we live in an age of electronic communications and there are a few options. The easiest and most practical one for travellers is to use the numerous cheap calling services provided by internet cafes and guest houses in tourist areas. You can’t miss them because they all display near identical signs outside their shop. The services use one of two methods; a call back service of a VoIP (voice over internet protocol) which effectively turns an internet connection into a phone line.

Those living here can set up their own VoIP service; Skype is the best known and is reliable and extensive. These services require that you register and give credit card details (if you want to buy credit to call hardlines). Some are more efficient and reliable than others so it’s worth shopping around. Obviously you need your own computer or iPhone. PC to PC calls are free, though you have to co-ordinate with those you are calling of course, plus you can use Skype with your iPhone and these services can also call directly to regular phones.

If you are on the go, pick up a local 3G-enabled SIM card and/or make use of the free WiFi in the many coffeeshops and cafes in Samui.

Unfortunately the phone network in Thailand is somewhat neglected and poorly maintained, but works most the time. Many people rely entirely on the mobile networks.