The Philippines – known for its beaches, tasty fruits & many festivals throughout the year.
The country is a popular travel destination for those trying to flee cold falls and winters from Europe.
But besides its warm weather, what else does the Philippines have to offer? A lot.
Of course, you can spend all your time at the beach.
With more than 7100 islands, you will be bound to find a beach to your liking.
You can also visit caves, such as the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
Or visit and swim in one of the many volcanos, like Taal Volcano (Taal Lake).
But be sure to pick out a safe volcano… you do not want to burn alive, I hope.
There are many more things you can do in this lovely country.
There are many dedicated Philippines blogs out there that will do a better job promoting the country than I will because… well… I focus on SIM cards 😎.
If you had asked me about Filipino SIM cards a few years ago, I would have told you all of them are bad and expect lousy service throughout your trip.
However, things have significantly improved over the years, especially with the introduction of 5G NR, with the country achieving incredible speeds.
What you should not do, in many cases, is roam internationally in the Philippines.
International roaming can be expensive, which is why using local and travel eSIMs is recommended to save money.
And if you get a travel eSIM, you do not have to deal with the SIM card registration bureaucracy (in general – not a thing in the Philippines… for now) and skip the queues in the Philippines.
How much will a local or travel eSIM for the Philippines cost you?
You can get an eSIM for the Philippines for as little as 4 USD, with 1 GB of data for 7 days, up to 32 USD, with 20 GB of data for 30 days, from Smart Philippines, Airalo (Alpas Mobile), Holafly & Nomad.
Those are some generous data allowances, right?
In this guide, I will go over the eSIM options offered by the Filipino mobile operators (Smart Philippines), Airalo, Holafly & Nomad. Let's do this.
Original publication: 26th of August 2022. Last updated: 27th of January 2023.
Table of Contents
eSIMs offered by the Filipino Mobile Operators
To get the best service available, in terms of reception and speeds, you want to go with the local mobile operators directly instead of with a travel eSIM.
That is because you will have a higher priority on the network in case of network congestion.
However, that does not mean travel eSIMs will always be slow.
In fact, some mobile operators throttle (prepaid) on select plans or all plans for “optimization” reasons (read: we cannot be bothered to invest in our network).
Anyway, which Filipino mobile operators offer eSIMs to prepaid customers?
Currently, only Smart Philippines offers eSIMs to prepaid customers.
You also have several other options for getting an eSIM for your trip to the Philippines: You can choose travel eSIMs from Airalo (with Alpas Mobile), Holafly & Nomad.
Not only can you set up these eSIMs before arriving in the Philippines and activate them upon landing.
While mobile data is already affordable in the Philippines, getting a travel eSIM will not break the bank – not at all.
Plus, I have plenty of experience with Airalo, Holafly & Nomad, and I can assure you they work well – and other Phone Travel Wiz readers also had pleasant experiences with them.
So let's see what these travel eSIM providers have to offer in the Philippines, right?
Airalo eSIMs for the Philippines (Alpas Mobile)
If I could only get a travel eSIM during my trip because I do not have the time or opportunity to buy a local SIM card or eSIM, then I would always get an eSIM from Airalo.
Airalo has eSIMs for around 190 countries, offers eSIMs at the lowest prices (on average compared to the competition) & has good service.
Airalo usually partners with the local mobile operator with the best coverage, the fastest speeds, or both.
And if it needs to partner up with multiple mobile operators, it does so, allowing you to have the best reception at all times.
Anyway, you can get an Alpas Mobile eSIM for as low as 4 USD, with 1 GB of data, up to 32 USD, with 20 GB of data.
Those prices and data allowances are not too bad, right?
Especially knowing that the Alpas Mobile eSIM uses the Globe Philippines network.
But Airalo used to have a partnership with Smart Philippines offering its eSIMs – they were even better than the Alpas Mobile ones (because of 5G NR access).
And they were loved by Phone Travel Wiz readers – they were sold as cupcakes, basically.
And the data allowances were more generous (although the Alpas Mobile ones are good too).
Anyway, he following five Filipino Alpas Mobile eSIM options are available:
- Philippines/Alpas Mobile 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing
- Philippines/Alpas Mobile 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 9.50 USD
- Philippines/Alpas Mobile 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 13 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Philippines/Alpas Mobile 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 21 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Philippines/Alpas Mobile 20 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 32 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
What do I mean by very popular and most popular?
57.1% of Phone Travel Readers get the 5 GB or 10 GB Alpas Mobile eSIM (equal split, so 28.5% each).
The 1 GB, 3 GB & 20 GB variants have an equal split of around 14.3%.
I guess these eSIMs are equally loved 🤪.
The Airalo links will automatically get you the available Phone Travel Wiz exclusive offers – a code is unnecessary.
- Check out my Airalo eSIM reviews
Overall, the Alpas Mobile eSIM gives you fantastic value for your money.
Airalo Alpas Mobile eSIM Pros
Are there any other reasons why you should get the Alpas Mobile eSIM for your trip? For sure:
- You can activate your Alpas Mobile eSIM as soon as you land in the Philippines
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access to the Globe Philippines network
- Alpas Mobile eSIMs are affordable (especially compared to roaming) and have generous data allowances
- Out of data? You can simply top up online on the Airalo website and not worry about language barriers when dealing with local agents
There are many other small pros, but these are the major ones.
It would be disingenuous not to mention some cons, so here we go.
Airalo Alpas Mobile eSIM Cons
So, why should you not get the Alpas Mobile eSIM?
- The Filipino mobile operators, including Globe Philippines itself, have much more generous data allowances
- While you get access to Globe Philippines' network, your speeds will not be as fast as going with Globe Philippines itself because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- There is no 5G NR access with the Alpas Mobile eSIM (yet)
- You cannot call or text with the Alpas Mobile eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
Airalo Alpas Mobile eSIM Overall Thoughts
Honestly, the Alpas Mobile eSIM is fantastic.
The plans offered with Alpas Mobile eSIMs are generous and affordable.
You get fast speeds and access to Globe Philippines, without standing in queues.
And everything, purchasing and topping up, can be done online on the Airalo website or Airalo app (downloading the app is recommended).
Unfortunately, you cannot call or text with the Alpas Mobile eSIM, as it is a data-only eSIM.
Nomad eSIMs for the Philippines
Another travel eSIM provider I recommend is Nomad.
In fact, I have been in close contact with Nomad as soon as I partnered up with them.
For example, upon my recommendation, it started offering the Nordics regional eSIM – an eSIM that can be used in Denmark, Finland, Sweden & Norway.
Yes, I really try to get the best offers and deals for you 🥰.
Another thing I have been pushing Nomad for, and Airalo and Holafly (to be discussed next) for that matter, is lowering its prices or increasing its data allowances.
In June, Nomad started offering a 2 GB eSIM variant upon my request for the Philippines and various other Asian countries (because Phone Travel Wiz readers asked for such an eSIM) at competitive prices.
In August, Nomad dropped its prices again for its China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand & Vietnam eSIMs (which are even cheaper than Airalo – that is remarkable on its own!).
So yes, Nomad is looking out for you 👁👁.
Anyway, in the Philippines, it uses the Truphone network, which uses a combination of local networks (Smart Philippines, Globe Philippines & Dito Philippines), allowing your eSIM to switch to the network with the best reception automatically.
This way, you will always be connected!
You have the following ten options with Nomad for the Philippines:
- Philippines 1 GB eSIM for 7 days (Globe – new), costing 4 USD/4 EUR/3.50 GBP/5.50 CAD
- Philippines 2 GB eSIM for 30 days (Truphone), costing 10 USD/9.50 EUR/8.50 GBP/13.50 CAD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Philippines 3 GB eSIM for 30 days (Globe – new), costing 7 USD/7.50 EUR/7 GBP/11 CAD
- Philippines 5 GB eSIM for 30 days (Globe – new), costing 11 USD/11.50 EUR/10 GBP/16.50 CAD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Philippines 10 GB eSIM for 30 days (Globe – new), costing 19 USD/18 EUR/16 GBP/25.50 CAD
- Philippines 15 GB eSIM for 30 days (Globe – new), costing 25 USD/23.50 EUR/20.50 GBP/33.50 CAD
- Philippines 20 GB eSIM for 30 days (Globe – new), costing 34 USD/31.50 EUR/28 GBP/46 CAD
- Philippines 30 GB eSIM for 30 days (Globe – new), costing 80 USD/74 EUR/65.50 GBP/107.50 CAD
- Philippines 40 GB eSIM for 30 days (Globe – new), costing 110 USD/102 EUR/90.50 GBP/147.50 CAD
- Philippines 50 GB eSIM for 30 days (Globe – new), costing 125 USD/116 EUR/102.50 GBP/167.50 CAD
Use code ADU123 for the best deals available when getting Nomad eSIMs (on the site or their apps) and get 3 USD/2.85 EUR/2.45 GBP/4.10 CAD off (even on top of current promotions)!
- Check out my Nomad reviews
Of course, going with Nomad has some pros and cons, so let's go over them.
Nomad Philippines eSIM Pros
So, why should you get a Nomad eSIM? Because:
- You can activate your Nomad Philippines eSIM as soon as you land in the Philippines
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access on all Filipino networks, allowing you to have the best reception at all times
- You can avoid expensive international roaming fees
- Out of data? You can simply top up online on the Nomad website and not worry about language barriers when dealing with local agents
But it is not all good news with Nomad though – there are some disadvantages.
Nomad Philippines eSIM Cons
So, why should you not get the Nomad Philippines eSIM?
- The Filipino mobile operators have much more generous data allowances
- While you get access to ten networks, your speeds will not be as fast as going with the Filipino mobile operators themselves because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- There is no 5G NR access with the Nomad Philippines eSIM
- You cannot call or text with the Nomad Philippines eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
Nomad Philippines eSIM Overall Thoughts
Overall, the Nomad Philippines eSIM is a great premium eSIM offering.
You will always have the best reception because the Nomad Philippines eSIM automatically switches to the best network at your location.
However, just like the other travel eSIMs mentioned in this guide, you do not get a (local) phone number with the Nomad Philippines eSIM.
Moreover, you can only get up to 5 GB of data.
Luckily, you can top up your Nomad Philippines eSIM with more data if you want.
Holafly eSIMs for the Philippines
The last travel eSIM provider I recommend is Holafly.
My relationship with Holafly is quite funny.
I knew they existed when they offered travel SIM cards for the Spanish market only.
Then they pivoted to the global market, still offering travel SIM cards.
Eventually, they started offering travel eSIMs for the Spanish market only again before going global.
There are many travel eSIM providers nowadays – new ones pop up every week like mushrooms, so I did not bat an eye.
Until they did something revolutionary.
In 2022, Holafly started offering unlimited data plans for its eSIMs.
And these unlimited data eSIMs can be used in various Asian countries, almost all European Union member states (except for Liechtenstein) & a few other countries, like Canada and the United States.
Unfortunately, unlimited data eSIMs are not available in the Philippines… yet.
I say yet because Holafly's goal is to offer unlimited data plans for every country it covers: 100+ countries.
And I can tell you that I get positive emails multiple times a week from Phone Travel Wiz readers that have used the unlimited data plans in East- and Southeast Asia, Europe & North America; they love these eSIMs.
For now, you have only one Holafly Philippines eSIM (which uses the Smart Philippines network – the mobile operator with the best coverage and fastest speeds, by the way):
You have only one Philippines eSIM option with Holafly:
- Philippines 8 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 47 USD/49 EUR/37 GBP/69 AUD/64 CAD
Not much choice, as you can see.
As I recently started my collaboration with Holafly, you can get 5% off each purchase whenever you use code PHONETRAVELWIZ – awesome, right?
- Check out my Holafly reviews
Of course, there are some pros and cons with going with Holafly, so let's go over them.
Holafly Philippines eSIM Pros
So, why should you get the Holafly eSIMs? Well, because of the following:
- Holafly Philippines eSIMs are affordable compared to roaming
- You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access to Smart Philippines – the best in the Philippines
- You can activate your Holafly Philippines eSIM as soon as you land in the Philippines
But it is not all good news with Holafly though – there are some disadvantages.
Holafly Philippines eSIM Cons
So, why should you not get a Holafly Philippines eSIM?
- You cannot call or text with the Holafly Philippines eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
- Filipino mobile operators, Smart Philippines, have much more generous data allowances
- While you get full (4G/LTE) access to Smart Philippines' network, your speeds may not be as fast as going with Smart Philippines directly because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
- You cannot top up your Holafly Philippines eSIM – you would have to buy another eSIM if you need more data
- There is no 5G NR access with the Holafly Philippines eSIM (yet)
Holafly Philippines eSIM Overall Thoughts
While you have only one option for the Holafly Philippines eSIM, it is one of the most generous eSIM (in terms of data) in this guide.
And the price for the Holafly Philippines eSIM is low compared to expensive Pay As You Go roaming rates for Philippines.
But it still is not cheap.
Best eSIMs for in Asia (not just the Philippines)
Unfortunately, you cannot use your Airalo Alpas Mobile, Holafly Philippines, or Nomad Philippines eSIMs in any country than the Philippines.
However, the three eSIM providers have eSIMs covering several East Asian and Southeast Asian countries.
I highly recommend these Asia/APAC eSIMs if you plan to visit multiple East- and Southeast Asian countries to save money!
Airalo recently heavily improved its Asia eSIM, which used to offer a meager 4 GB of high-speed data before allowing for unlimited data at snail speeds, following the popular Eurolink eSIM for 39 European countries.
The Eurolink eSIM is the most popular eSIM for Phone Travel readers, and I have no doubt that the Asialink eSIM will be popular too.
Just like in Europe, many readers tend to visit multiple Asian countries, so they would rather have a travel eSIM covering multiple countries than just one (like the Philippines).
The Asialink eSIM can be used in the following 14 countries:
- Hong Kong
- Singapore 1
- South Korea
1 currently, newly bought Asialink eSIMs cannot be used in Singapore. Airalo is working on re-including Singapore in its Asialink offering
Below is an overview of how much each Asialink eSIM costs:
- Asia/Asialink 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 5 USD
- Asia/Asialink 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 13 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Asia/Asialink 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 20 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Asia/Asialink 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 37 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
- Asia/Asialink 50 GB eSIM for 90 days, costing 100 USD
- Asia/Asialink 100 GB eSIM for 180 days, costing 185 USD
Holafly & Nomad eSIMs for the Philippines
Because of Airalo's previous Asia eSIM, I used to recommend Nomad's APAC eSIMs instead (to be used in 8 countries).
This eSIM can be used in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore & Thailand (1 GB/7 days/15 USD – 20 GB/30 days/69 USD).
As you can see, this eSIM cannot be used in the Philippines, so it would be useless here but useful in the aforementioned countries.
The Holafly Asia eSIM has only one variant: 8 GB for 30 days, costing 47 USD/49 EUR/34 GBP.
This eSIM can be used in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand & Vietnam.
Basically, the same countries as the Airalo Asialink eSIM with just fewer options (1 variant (8 GB) vs. 6 variants (1 GB/3 GB/5 GB/10 GB/50 GB/100 GB)) and much more expensive.
So yeah, the Asialink eSIM is superior, I would say.
Remember, the Airalo links above will automatically offer you the best deals.
Overview of the Best eSIMs for the Philippines (Airalo vs. Holafly vs. Nomad)
In this guide, I went over various eSIMs for the Philippines: Airalo (Alpas Mobile), Holafly & Nomad.
Below is an overview of my recommendation order:
- Airalo's Philippines Alpas Mobile eSIM (best value for money)
- Airalo's Asia Asialink eSIM (best value for money when also visiting other East- and Southeast Asian countries)
- Nomad Philippines eSIM (cheap and excellent performance)
- Holafly Philippines eSIM (generous data plan)
- Holafly Asia eSIM (to be used in 13 countries)
Remember to use code PHONETRAVELWIZ for Holafly eSIMs and code ADU123 for Nomad eSIMs – a code is not necessary for Airalo eSIM purchases.
Buying a SIM Card in Philippines
Want to just use a SIM card but not your current one because roaming will be criminally expensive?
Consider getting a Filipino SIM card instead – local SIM cards are the cheapest way to stay connected abroad.
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