Thailand travel adaptors – which plug to take?

Before you head off on your fabulous holiday to Thailand, spare a thought for which Thailand travel adaptors you’ll need to make sure your smartphone, tablet, camera, and all those other essential travel devices stay charged up and ready to use. And if you’re from the USA, there’s an extra special caution for you!

The power standard in Thailand is 220V but the power sockets will be a bit strange for most travelers as Thailand hasn’t quite settled on whether to use flat pins or round pins for its appliances, so they cater for both. There’s a temptation to deal with this by using the wrong kinds of power adaptors, which is why we’ve written this post.

For our American friends, note that your appliances and devices will plug straight into these sockets, but because the voltage is double what you have at home they may blow a gasket! Some appliances these days are voltage tolerant in the range of 110-240V and will happily use anything in this range. But if you’re coming from a country with 110V standard power we recommend buying or obtaining a 220-110V power converter which is available from most Thailand department stores for about 200 Bt.

Most hotels and guest houses in Thailand will provide some kind of power adaptor for you to use during your holiday, but more often than not they’ll be more trouble than they’re worth. They’ve typically been over-used and abused and if they were ever any good, it was a long time ago. They fall out of the wall socket, your device plug falls out of the adaptor, or there are scorch marks on the socket. It’s just trouble with a capital T!

In our experience, you’re better off slipping out to your nearest Big C or Tesco department store and buying yourself a good quality Thailand power adaptor board for about 1200-1500 Bt. These will handle multiple devices at once (we usually have a couple of iPhones, a small camera, a tablet, and a GPS needing charging every night) and because they sit horizontally, nothing will fall out of the sockets. The good quality boards have a round earth pin as well as two flat pins. They also have a surge protector built in (Thailand power can be a bit dodgy at times) and can take almost any kind of plug.

A word about the electricity in Thailand

As mentioned earlier, the power in Thailand is 220V and operates at 50 Hz. But it’s generally not as reliable as you might hope. There are brown-outs (where the voltage drops well below 22oV for a few seconds or a few minutes at a time) and there are occasional blackouts (total loss of power), but generally only in more remote locations.

One of the big causes of power problems in Thailand is the apparently unregulated access to power poles and transformers. Look up almost anywhere in Thailand’s metropolitan areas and you’ll see a bird’s nest of power and phone wires that can’t possibly be safe or legal. But it is what it is. Don’t let it spoil your holiday, just be ready for it.

A side-effect of this jungle of wires is that it makes Thailand’s electricity and telephone cables much more prone to lightning strikes, so if you have devices plugged into power or even into phone lines and there’s a thunderstorm, unplug them immediately!

If you have any questions about electricity in Thailand or the right kinds of power adaptors to use, or if you have a story about using power adaptors in Thailand, add your comments below. You can log in with your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media account.

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