ExpressVPN

5 Best VPNs for Thailand

The ‘Land of smiles’ it may well be, but a recent report puts Thailand in joint third place with Brazil in its use of censorship evasion, with 34 percent of the internet population using tools such as VPN and proxies to gain unrestricted and anonymous access to the internet.

When you consider Thailand’s turbulent and often violent political upheavals (a situation which at the time of writing this article has dramatically flared up again), it is not very surprising that the government has chosen to crack down on political dissent, and at last report (2010), over 110,000 websites were censored. In addition to this, the country’s deep cultural acceptance of lése  majesté  laws (the prohibition on criticising the monarch) has been used not only to silence individual critics of the government by jailing them, but in the words of an OpenNet Initiative (ONI) report, ‘what is more alarming is how members of online communities [are] engaged in cyber witch-hunting using lèse-majesté as a powerful rationale to publicly condemn and reprimand those who represent dissenting opinions.’

We will look in more detail at these issues after listing our top five VPN providers for Thailand.


Summary

Find below a summary of the Best VPNs for Thailand.

Rank Provider StartingPrice Review Link

1

ExpressVPN_Logo $8.32/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

2

vyprvpn_logo $6.67/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

3

logo $11.52/month Read Review > Visit Site >

4

logo $9.95/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

5

$10.50/mo Read Review > Visit Site >
Winner

ExpressVPN

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  • PROS
  • Servers in Hong Kong and Singapore
  • Good VPN client
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • No logs
  • Android app
  • And servers in Hong Kong and Singapore
  • CONS
  • Pricing is a bit high (though worth the extra cost)

ExpressVPN is a large US based provider with servers in 78 countries all over the globe, including Hong Kong and Singapore, and it boasts some great speedtest.net results. It also offers a very generous 30 day free trial, keeps no usage logs (although some connection logs are kept), and has some great software, including a nifty Android app and iOS auto-configuration setup script for secure surfing on the move. Unfortunately only one device can be connected at once.

Try Out the Best VPN for Thailand Today!

» Visit ExpressVPN

30 day moneyback guarantee

2nd place

VyprVPN

  • PROS
  • Fast
  • 160-bit and 256-bit OpenVPN encryption (Pro only)
  • Android app
  • iOS app
  • Servers in Hong Kong
  • 7 day money back guarantee
  • Up to 3 simultaneous connections
  • No usage logs
  • CONS
  • P2P:no
  • Expensive

VyprVPN is a large provider run by global consortium Golden Frog (based in the US), with servers in 38 countries worldwide, including Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, and even Thailand (Bangkok, but we advise choosing a server outside Thailand). Like ExpressVPN, it is good general choice, as it has simple but effective Windows and OSX clients, and very nice Android and iOS apps.

VyprVPN keeps logs for 90 days, but as it is based in the US this may not be a huge concern for users in Thailand, and many will appreciate the 7 day money back guarantee, the fact that 2 devices (or 3 for the premier package) can be connected at once, and the very good 160-bit to 256-bit OpenVPN encryption. Note that these comments apply to the Pro service, not the PPTP-only Basic plan.

» Visit VyprVPN


3rd place

BolehVPN

StrongVPN

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Fast
  • Great OSX and Windows software
  • Dedicated ‘CloakRouted servers’ for China (but which should also be effective should Vietnam try to ban VPNs)
  • P2P: yes
  • CONS
  • None

Based offshore somewhere in Malaysia, BolehVPN is one of SE Asia’s most popular VPN providers. It keeps no logs and has an excellent OSX and Windows VPN client, which while having a bit of steep learning curve, offers wealth of connection options, including the option to connect to ‘cloaked routers’ in Hong Kong, which may be useful if the Thai government ever tries to block VPN traffic. Boleh also turned in some great speedtest.net results, and allows P2P downloading.

» Visit BolehVPN


4th place

Hide My Ass

  • PROS
  • Servers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan
  • Great VPN client makes changing servers very easy
  • Lots of other freebies on-site to help maintain anonymity on the internet
  • CONS
  • Keeps logs and has a history of collaboration with the authorities, a bit pricey

HMA is a very large and high profile VPN provider with a large presence in South East Asia (it has literally hundreds of servers, including some located in Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan). The service is fast, and the Windows and OSX client software is very fully featured. A UK company, HMA keeps logs, but this is unlikely to be an issue for users in Thailand.

» Visit HideMyAss


5th place

PureVPN

  • PROS
  • P2P: yes (on some servers)
  • ‘up to’ 256-bit SSTP and OpenVPN encryption
  • 2 simultaneous connections
  • iOS app
  • Android app
  • 3 days money back guarantee
  • Servers in Singapore and Malaysia
  • CONS
  • Keeps logs (but based in Hong Kong)

PureVPN also keeps logs, but as it is based in Hong Kong this is likely not a huge threat, and unlike some of the providers listed here it does allow BitTorrent downloading (using selected servers). The iOS and Android apps are very nice, as is the ‘up to’ 265-bit OpenVPN encryption. There is a 3 money back guarantee, but we have received many complaints about customers not getting a refund for this, and receiving poor customer service.

» Visit PureVPN


Internet censorship and surveillance in Thailand

A very brief background

In 2001 and 2005 Thailand’s first single-party civilian government, led by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of the Thai Rak Thai (TRT) Party, won landslide elections. Hugely popular with the rural poor, Thaksin antagonised the urban middle classes with an outspoken manner, and was mired in accusations of authoritarianism, nepotism, and corruption, leading to an army coup in September 2006.

In a highly disputed junta-administered election in September 2007 the anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD, also popularly known as ‘yellow shirts’) took power. In the years since, the political situation has been in upheaval, with the fault-lines drawn between urban middle class ‘yellow shirts’, and the rural poor ‘red shirts’.

A year after particularly violent protests and civil disturbance in 2010, the opposition pro-Thaksin (reds) party won a landslide general election, and it is now the yellow shirts who are showing a groundswell of popular support, particularly since a blanket amnesty for the 2010 red shirt protesters was extended to include Thaksin.

Amid growing tensions and the escalating violence of demonstrations (which has led to fatalities on both sides) Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra (the youngest sister of Thaksin Shinawatra) has called for elections on 2 February 2014, but this seems to have done little to stabilize the current situation.

Website Censorship

Even before the 2006 coup, with a total of 34,411 websites blocked by government agencies, Thailand had a strong tradition of censorship. Only 11 percent of these however related to threats to national security (including criticisms of the king, government or military), the majority being banned on moralistic grounds (60 percent pornography, and 14 percent relating to the sale of sex toys). A state of emergency was declared in 2008 which led to a very large number of websites being blocked, and although this was ended in April 2010, the trend for blocking websites continues to grow (as noted earlier, the latest from figures from 2010 showed an estimated 110,000 and growing websites blocked).

When the ONI conducted tests in 2010 (after the State of Emergency Decree was revoked), it found that ‘ISPs primarily block content related to political opposition sites, pornography, gambling, and circumvention tools,’ but also that a ‘central focus of this blocking is on political content related to the red shirts and Thai-language content.’

Although the red shirts are now in power, the situation seems to have changed little (except that it is yellow shirt content that is now suppressed). The report also found, however, ‘that filtering continues to be inconsistently practiced in Thailand and that government block lists are not uniformly implemented across ISPs.’ Censorship is largely performed by Thailand’s 54 ISPs, who accede to blocklists ‘requested’ by the Royal Thai Police, the Communications Authority of Thailand, and the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT).  Unlike with the Great Firewall of China, only websites are blocked, not Instant Messaging, VoIP, or other forms of internet communication.

Surveillance and personal censorship

By casting political dissent as a breach of lèse-majesté, the government has come down hard on its critics, leading to numerous arrests and imprisonments. ISPs and International Internet Gateways (IIGs) have been ordered to monitor chatrooms and forums, ‘focusing on lèse-majesté speech, and to give a 30-minute time frame for taking down such content’. Despite a right to privacy being enshrined in the 2007 constitution (but no data protection laws have yet been passed), the 2007 Cybercrime Law  granted state officials sweeping powers to request logs of users internet traffic from ISPs, duplicate computer information and computer-based traffic information, decrypt, censor, and access computer systems, confiscate or ‘freeze’ any computer system, and more. This already dire situation has been made worse by ‘cyber witch-hunting’, where zealous internet users report comments by fellow forum members they suspect of breaching lèse-majesté to the authorities.

Response

Unsurprisingly in such an atmosphere, many internet users resort to self-censorship, leading to a severe lack of freedom of expression. The ONI report however also notes that many internet users are beginning to fight back, ‘More technologically capable dissidents have evaded the control using anonymizers and circumvention tools, while civic organizations advocating for online freedom of expression have introduced public education and regularly campaign against government Internet control, allied with international NGOs advocating on similar issues.’ With 34 percent of the population this week reported to be using VPNs or proxies to circumvent censorship and protect their identities online, it seems this resistance is growing.

A word on VPN server locations

Users in Thailand wanting to access geo-restricted media content (such as Hulu or BBC iPlayer) will of course need a VPN service with servers in the required locations (most likely the UK or UK). Fortunately pretty near all international VPN providers offer servers in these countries. Users wanting to evade censorship and protect their privacy and anonymity should choose a server in Hong Kong, as this is (relatively) close geographically (and should therefore suffer minimum lag issues), while having arguably the most free and uncensored internet access in Asia (or, for that matter, the world). If performance speed is a big issue then servers in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and even the Philippines may offer an advantage, but none of these countries has a great respect for online privacy.


Summary

Rank Provider StartingPrice Review Link

1

ExpressVPN_Logo $8.32/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

2

vyprvpn_logo $6.67/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

3

logo $11.52/month Read Review > Visit Site >

4

logo $9.95/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

5

$10.50/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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5 responses to “5 Best VPNs for Thailand

  1. Hi Doug,

    From a performance perspective, we find Strong to be a reliable performer in Thailand. On contrary, Express has been occasionally unstable. Vypr has been the most consistent. We do like Express’ no log policy.

    Your Thailand readers may also be interested in the benefits of integrating VPN on the WiFi router. May we ask that you share the following information with them?

    By installing VPN on a high-end WiFi router, the benefits are:

    1. Connect many WiFi devices to VPN using a single account
    2. Always on, always secure connection for all devices
    3. Convenience
    4. Stability
    5. Any WiFi device can connect even those that can’t normally install VPN (eg., AppleTV, Roku, SmartTV, security camera, etc.)

    Your Thailand readers can search tutorials on how to install VPN on the WiFi router. It usually involves upgrading router firmware to DD-WRT or Tomato and integrating the VPN on the router (note risk to “bricking” router). Or try Freedom Routers for plug and play routers. Freedom Routers provides a no-risk firmware install on top router models, stability warranty, VPN integration with many providers including Expess, Vypr, Strong, Pure, etc. and support.

    Hope this helps.

    Kind regards,
    Nat

  2. Yes I looked at the link and clearly you are not impressed. I have been with them for 3 years now and it’s renewal time and I thought I would look around for alternatives so your article is very useful to me. I have to say that my view of strong VPN is not quite as bad as yours for example I pay around $80 a year for my ‘special open VPN’ – whatever that means! I find their technical support competent but sometimes arrogant and too quick to ‘fix’ it for you through team viewer rather than discuss the issue with you. I have had intermittent speed problems with them (netflix was continually buffering). Recently I have experienced quite a few connection problems and so I am going to trial Vypr first and then express before deciding.

    Once again thanks for you helpful article.

  3. Hi thanks for a very useful article.

    I currently use Strong VPN and I’m curious as to why you didn’t include them in the review

    1. Hi Mike,

      I’m glad you liked the article.

      If you read our review of StrongVPN (bestvpncom.wpengine.com/blog/3292/strongvpn-review/) you will see that we are not happy with its aggressive anti-filesharing policy, poor technical support, use of non-shared IPs, lack of transparency over encryption used, its poor attitude to privacy, the fact that despite being a pretty shoddy service it is also one the most expensive….

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